Steph Curry panicked at the moment Gary Payton II blocked Victor WembanyamaL: “It was scary.. (video)

Steph Curry panicked at
the moment Gary Payton II blocked Victor WembanyamaL:


“It was scary.. (video)

Steph Curry, Gary Payton II, Warriors

Getty
Devin Vassell #24 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against Stephen Curry #30 and Gary Payton II #0 of the Golden State Warriors.

Stephen Curry matched a season-high seven 3-pointers as he got back on a high-scoring track. But the highlight of the Golden State Warriors‘ 118-112 win over the slumping San Antonio Spurs belonged to unheralded Gary Payton II.

Curry was appreciative of Payton II’s block on 7-foot-3 Victor Wembanyama’s shot after he turned the ball over.

“It’s a way to reintroduce himself after his absence and obviously, he’s got a knack for athleticism but, especially off of my turnover, that was appreciated,” Curry said Payton II’s defensive gem.

Wembanyama intercepted Curry’s pass to Payton II off a pick-and-roll. But Payton II tracked down Wembanyama, who wrapped around the ball behind his back to elude Curry’s defense. Payton II got back in time and leaped with all his might to block the shot.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr described it as a “hell of a play.”

It was Payton II’s first game back after missing three games due to a strained muscle in his left foot. He provided the much-needed spark for the Warriors to stay alive in the In-Season Tournament.

“He just gives us great energy on the ball defensively,” said Curry of Payton II. “He’s one of those guys who might show up in stat or might not but he makes the opponent aware of him where he’s at, think about him because he causes chaos out there. He’s doing a good job with for us.”

Curry added Payton II took on the challenge, having watched them crumble on defense while he was out.

Payton II made his presence felt right away.

The win pushed the Warrior’s record to 2-1 in the In-Season Tournament and 8-9 overall in the regular season.

Curry had 35 points after he was held to 16 in their loss in Phoenix on Wednesday, November 22. He added six assists but also had six of the Warriors’ 24 turnovers.

Payton II set the defensive tone for the Warriors with that emphatic block on Wembanyama that sparked their rally. The reserve guard had four points, three rebounds, one steal, one block and lots of intangibles in his return.

Gary Payton II’s Block Fuels Warriors Comeback

Payton II’s block sparked a 19-9 Warriors run to close the opening half to take the lead after trailing 46-40 before he subbed Chris Paul.

“I was just trying to get back and help protect the rim and I think it was [Curry] that


made [Wembanyama] re-adjust in [Eurostep]. I knew he wasn’t passing the ball so I just tried to meet him at the top before he got it off,” Payton II told reporters, describing his chase down block.

Curry then scored 23 points in the second half to hold off the Spurs’ late rally.

Where Warriors Stand in In-Season Tournament

The Warriors stayed alive with the win over the Spurs. But they can clinch Group C in the West if they beat the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday and hope the Minnesota Timberwolves fall to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In this scenario, the Warriors and Kings would end up with an identical 3-1 record. But Golden State would win the head-to-head In-Season Tournament tiebreaker over Sacramento.

A loss to the Kings would eliminate them from contention.

The Warriors will receive a major boost with Draymond Green’s return. Green served his fifth game suspension during the team’s Friday win.

Gary Payton II views Warriors' NBA In-Season Tournament games as 'money time' – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

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