No one knows what it’s like to bamboozle defenses more than Kobe Bryant. The Lakers legend has made a career vivisecting opposing fortresses specifically tailored to slow him down, and if anyone can appreciate Stephen Curry’s shot-making abilities, it’s him. So, when Curry was dropping step-backs in the fourth quarter last night, Kobe explained on Twitter why it’s so hard to defend him:
Now, don’t get confused. We’re not talking about the four three-pointers Steph swished in the opening gambit. As Kevin McHale, Dwight Howard and a frustrated James Harden all said after the game, they just lost him on defense, and that was on them. But even when Dwight Howard runs out on him, followed closely by Jason Terry after Curry side-steps Howard, the result is more of the same:
It was in the fourth where Kobe’s tweet rang true. Steph was still hitting ridiculous step-backs any coach would be happy to have an opponent take. As Kobe mentioned, those seemingly impossible angles and hot potato releases Houston forced on Steph are simply natural extensions of his offensive repertoire.
The late-game step-back is a shot you want a player to take, but Curry routinely rips nylon like this one over the excellent defense of Terrence Jones:
In the above GIFs, Curry is guarded as well as you can expect anyone to guard him, and he still gets the sliver of separation necessary to get a shot up. Splash.
Houston eventually just started doubling Steph the moment he came near half-court, or any time Golden State ran a high screen for him. And while the typical tunnel vision of the reporters in the post-game press conference kept alluding to how it stymied Steph’s shot making, he also did things like this:
Kobe knows what he’s talking about. When you force a player to take difficult shots from low-efficiency spots on the floor, that’s what every coach wants. But when the player is jut as capable and adept at making those shots, there’s really no answer. Curry is a riddle. You just keep taking certain things away from him and hope his brilliance eventually takes a night off. Houston is hoping that happens to Steph in Game 3 on Saturday.