Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant don’t think much of Stephen Curry‘s defense.
Westbrook chuckled during the postgame press conference Thursday evening, when asked whether Curry’s defense was underrated. And Durant didn’t offer a glowing report on it either, despite Curry’s five steals and Westbrook’s seven turnovers in Golden State’s 120-111 victory.
“I mean, getting steals, that’s a part of playing defense. He’s pretty good, but he doesn’t guard the best point guards. I think they do a good job of putting guys on Russell — Klay Thompson to Andre Iguodala — and Steph, they do throw him in there sometimes. He moves his feet pretty well, he’s good with his hands, but I like our matchup with him guarding Russell.”
Westbrook’s reaction to the question was a proverbial slap, straight to the face of Curry, and the intensity like something from The Three Stooges.
Though Durant, who looked over at Westbrook as he offered his acutely deliberate reaction, tried to clean it up, the damage was done. And Curry tends to do his best work when he feels disrespected in one way or another.
Curry’s response was stand-up-ish in nature, and pointed in tone:
“I’ve got a great teammate that’s obviously a better defender on the perimeter. I like the challenge. I’ll do my job the best I can. That’s what I’m out there to do. SO in those situations, I don’t get too caught up in the one-on-one matchups. My job is to follow the game plan, and I’ve done that the last four years of my career, trying to elevate my defensive presence and do my job.”
Curry’s not one to get bogged down in a war of words, and though Thompson does normally take the best offensive player on a team, that player is Durant, not Westbrook.
More than that, Westbrook has averaged 28 points per game, and has failed to match his 11 assists per game average in this year’s postseason with Curry guarding him.
Curry, on the other hand, has been primarily guarded by Durant — Oklahoma’s best overall defender — and managed barely under 26 points per game.
Curry was also ranked as the third best point guard in the NBA this season by ESPN, behind only Ricky Rubio and Marcus Smart.
It’s debatable, to a point, whether Curry is a poor, mediocre, good, or elite defender. Stats are one thing, and film is another. But what anyone who has watched his career progress from injury prone to back-to-back MVP, knows that Curry doesn’t take well to disrespect about any part of his game.
And he shows it on the floor.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.