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Stephen Curry scrimmages with Warriors’ G League team as he nears NBA return

Stephen Curry works out with the Warriors' G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, Calif. (Dan Coyro/Santa Cruz Sentinel/AP)
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When the Golden State Warriors send a player to the G League, it doesn’t always cause headlines — but then again, that player usually isn’t Stephen Curry. The team did just that Monday with its superstar guard, but he was officially demoted for only a few hours, just long enough to get in a much-needed scrimmage as he nears his return to the NBA.

Perhaps displaying a bit of rust, Curry reportedly missed a game-winning shot attempt as his team lost by one point, but he looked like the “Steph of old,” according to several accounts. The two-time NBA MVP has been out of action since Oct. 30, when he broke his left hand in a game against the Phoenix Suns.

Curry reportedly required two surgeries to mend his hand, and in the meantime the Warriors, who already started the season without Klay Thompson (torn left ACL) and Kevin Durant (now with the Brooklyn Nets), plummeted to the NBA’s worst record. Thus Golden State could afford to take its time with Curry, and although he hoped to return to the court Sunday for a game against the Washington Wizards, the Warriors decided he would be best served by getting his feet wet in a decidedly less meaningful contest.

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That meant showing up Monday morning at the modest facility used by the Santa Cruz Warriors, where windows were covered up to prevent curious fans, media members and other onlookers from seeing the G League’s most famous player (for several hours) compete in an intrasquad game.

After reporters were let in to speak with players and coaches — and to watch Curry go through drills for approximately an hour — Santa Cruz Coach Kris Weems said the 31-year-old point guard appeared to be in good shape, at least in terms of his conditioning. Weems noted the importance of having Curry test his surgically repaired hand in a reasonable simulation of an NBA game.

“The real thing is getting bumped around, the physicality of the game, setting screens, fighting over screens. Maybe jamming that wrist or that hand on a fall,” Weems said (via ESPN). “You have to have those things to feel like you’re ready to go, and so hopefully we gave him that in that three quarters that we played.”

“Whenever they deem [Curry] fit to be able to play, he’ll be ready to go,” the coach added.

Curry won’t travel with the NBA’s Warriors for a game Tuesday in Denver, per the San Jose Mercury News, but he might return Thursday in a home date with the Toronto Raptors, who defeated Golden State last season in the NBA Finals. That could give Curry as many as 20 games to finish the regular season by regaining his form and developing some chemistry with new teammates, including recent trade acquisition Andrew Wiggins.

The G League players who competed with and against Curry on Monday were impressed, not only by his level of play but by the unique opportunity they had to share the court with him.

“We had Steph Curry, the greatest shooter of all time, in the gym,” forward Roger Moute a Bidias said. “So it was a great experience for us to have him come down and obviously help him get ready to come back on the court.”

“Made some shots that was Steph of old,” guard Jeremy Pargo said. “His game is going to be his game, and he’s going to be amazing at what he does no matter what. The confidence level speaks to that, and the shots he made today speaks to that.”

Kevin Danna, the Santa Cruz Warriors’ play-by-play announcer who attended the scrimmage, said of Curry (via NBC Bay Area): “He missed his first couple of shots as he was kind of getting his legs underneath him, but then he started going. And once he started hitting, he didn’t go back to missing much."

Danna added that as the intrasquad game came down to “crunchtime,” Curry was guarded mostly by Jonathon Simmons, a 6-6 swingman who has played in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers. At one point, Curry “just rose up and drilled one in his face” from well outside the three-point line, said Danna, and another moment saw Curry eschew a screen and hit from even farther away.

“It was definitely fun to see,” the announcer said.

Unfortunately for those in attendance, Curry was apparently unable to provide one last highlight by hitting the game-winner. He reportedly was triple-teamed on the play, but Weems said he gave no thought to using his temporary superstar as a decoy.

“Why would I draw it up for anybody else?” the G League coach said (via ESPN). “I’m trying to keep my job.”

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