Curry is back, and "it feels like it’s on again," said Kerr

© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — The new kid was back. And excited. Maybe more excited than the crowd, which was thrilled.

Even the sight of Steph Curry on the big screen before the game started had people roaring.

When he finally hit the court — and, after a couple of misses, hit a jumper — it was nirvana.

This was a reward for patience and agony. Four months of agony.

It’s wrong to say that all is right again. The Warriors still lost, 121-113, to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night a Chase Center, as they lost to the Raptors in last year’s NBA finals.

Still, as head coach Steve Kerr told us, “It feels like it’s on again.”

Yes, a small part of the Warriors we knew has returned. Make that a large part, because the Warriors in their success were built around Curry. Then, after Klay Thompson tore up his knee and Kevin Durant headed east, Curry broke his left hand in the fourth game of this fateful season.

Those other guys, Marquis Chriss, Damion Lee, even Andrew Wiggins, each of whom had been starting, if not from Day 1, had to make adjustments for the new kid, the 11-year veteran and two time MVP, Curry.

Steph had 23 points, as did Lee. What the Warriors had was a new outlook.

“There was a different level of anticipation and excitement,” said Kerr. “We are now through the woods. We can now start looking ahead and use these games to prepare ourselves to try and reach a high level of play. For the most part, we did that tonight.”

For the most part. They even led Toronto for a minute or so in the final quarter but fell apart near game’s end, no sin when the circumstances are considered. The Warriors are now 14-49, the Raptors 44-18. The better team won. The lesser team showed it can win.

Suddenly, the dreariness is gone. Steph is there. Draymond Green will have healed; Klay should be playing when the 2021 season begins. And then there’s that draft pick the Warriors will have, err, earned — first, second or, at worst if the lottery turns nasty, third.

The Warriors learned who they are and who they might be. They also learned what it was like to face a champion team with a brilliant defense — a defense that the Warriors themselves had not so long ago.

“What we talked about before the game was transition defense,” said Kerr, “but until you face that kind of speed coming downhill at you, it doesn’t matter what the coaches say. I felt we fell into fouls we could have avoided, but those are things our young guys are going to learn.”

What forward Marquis Chriss said was what virtually everyone in the building felt.

“The energy in the arena was amazing,” said Chriss. “You kind of felt the vibe and the energy in there. Being on the floor with a player like (Curry) draws a lot of attention. That helps players like me, players like (Damion) Lee, who is a scorer. So when people close on Steph, (Lee) gets to do his thing.”

Steph’s thing is everything. Two hours before the game he was working out, dribbling two basketballs simultaneously, then turning around and hooking flip shots, then tossing in balls seemingly from across the width of the bay.

“It felt great,” Curry said of playing again. ‘It was a lot of energy. Just the anticipation for tonight and getting back on the court and just seeing what was going to happen, it was a cool moment.”

Asked if he felt the love from the fans, Curry said, “For sure. We’ve been together 11 years. I’ve never been out this long while the season’s been going on. With the new building, and being on the sideline cheering for so long and just trying to get back out there, it’s definitely fun.”

As it should be.