Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren made sure he was at his best against Stephen Curry. But the Golden State Warriors superstar ruined Holmgren’s career night with his game-winning layup in Friday night’s 141-139 win.
Holmgren’s career-high 24 points ended in defeat. But he didn’t go home empty-handed as he earned a jersey swap with Curry.
“It was my first time playing against him in the NBA, obviously I’ve brought it up before, but there are great players over there and he’s one of them.” Holmgren told reporters after the game about Curry. “I definitely knew where he was at all times. It’s a cool first full circle moment, I guess you could call it, you know, going to his camp, no matter how many years ago, and now being in the league with him and to play and compete.”
“That’s what it’s all about – I want to go out there and compete with these guys and they want to do the same thing. It is great. They’re 1-0 ahead of us and we just have to keep getting better until we see them down the line.”
Curry said it was fun watching Holmgren’s growth in camp and the big rookie’s return from injury. The 7-foot-1 prodigy shot 7 of 9 from the field, including 2 of 2 from downtown. He filled the stat sheet with eight rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in a complete game that impressed Curry.
“Of course he’s incredibly talented offensively.” Curry told reporters about Holmgren. “He’s a tough cover for the big guys. He’s a difficult cover for the guards when you’re switching just because you get from point A to point B pretty quickly.”
Even Draymond Green, one of the best defenders in the league, Holmgren called it a “problem.”
“[Holmgren’s] has a good degree. He has the length. You have to respect him on all three levels,” Curry added.
And the best or the scariest thing about it?
“He’s just getting started,” Curry said.
Stephen Curry is relieved that the referees made the right decision
Curry breathed a sigh of relief after the officials finally counted his basket and emerged victorious in the hard-fought game.
Curry’s high-banking layup with 0.2 seconds left was initially canceled after Draymond Green was called for a basket interference. The lengthy review, Curry said, cast doubt on whether his shot was good.
“It was hard for me to watch the Jumbotron and watch the reruns” Curry told reporters after opening the NBA in-season tournament with a tough win. “I didn’t see it live because when I put it on I fell on the baseline and then I saw the ball go in. I saw Draymond [Green] was up there and I couldn’t tell if he touched the ball or not or if he grabbed the net or not.”
“And I think they didn’t call it a good thing at first… And I guess doubt started creeping in because I couldn’t tell what camera angles we had. But fortunately, [the referees] I understood it correctly. Because if I’m not mistaken, [Green] grazed the rim and didn’t touch the ball. Good basket.”
Official decision by the referees on Curry’s controversial game winner
Crew chief Mitchell Ervin explained why they decided in favor of the Warriors in the official NBA pool report.
“It was clear and conclusive evidence that Draymond did not touch the ball. Although Draymond touches the rim, he does not touch the ball, nor does his contact with the rim cause the ball to bounce abnormally, and therefore there is no basketball violation in the game.” Ervin explained.
Curry finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the high-scoring game against a Thunder team missing top star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander due to a knee injury.
Erle Almo is a basketball journalist who covers the New York Knicks and Golden State Warirors for Heavy. He has more than 15 years of experience in local and international media, including broadcast, print and digital. He previously covered the Knicks for Empire Sports Media and the NBA for Off the Glass. Alder is from the Philippines and now lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. More about Alder Almo
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