With Kevin Durant's backing, Stephen Curry finds groove

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Jeff Van Gundy says injuries are the only thing that can stop the Warriors from reaching the Finals and winning a championship. (1:01)

OAKLAND, Calif. -- There has been something a little off with Stephen Curry this season.

His numbers surely aren't anything to be ashamed of, considering that he's playing with four All-Stars, but that electrifying zest from a season ago hasn't been present on a consistent basis.

Shots he usually makes and acrobatic layups he typically pulls off have repeatedly and unexpectedly come up short far too often this season.

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr acknowledged part of the issue was Curry trying too hard to incorporate Kevin Durant into the offensive fold.

Even though this is Durant's first season with the Warriors, Durant also noticed Curry wasn't himself in the first 30 or so games.

It prompted Durant to engage in a series of routine chats with Curry over the next few weeks. These conversations took place at practices, games and while away from the game. Durant's message was direct and simple: Get back to being yourself, and I'll adapt.

"I just said to him, 'Don't worry about me,'" Durant told ESPN of his ongoing dialogue with Curry. "I said, 'Just play your game. I'll figure it out. I'll figure it out around you. You're the engine of this team, and I know that. I'm not trying to come over and feel like everything just revolves around me. Just do you, man. I'm going to play around you. I've played this game long enough. I know how to score. I know how to find the ball. Just go out there and play your game.' And that's what he's been doing."

On Saturday, Kerr said he read something online recently in which the writer asked, "Is Steph gonna Steph?"

Curry torched the Los Angeles Clippers for 43 points on 15 of 23 shooting -- 9-of-15 from long distance -- and added nine rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes on Saturday. Golden State won handily 144-98 at Oracle Arena. Curry did not play in the fourth quarter.

"Whatever [Steph gonna Steph] means, I think that's what happened," Kerr said.

The back-to-back MVP was back at his cheat-code, video-game-playing self that was reminiscent of his 2015-16 campaign. When he let it fly against the Clippers, the ball found the bottom of the net. It got to the point where you knew that once the ball left his hands, three more points would automatically be added.

He even launched a 51-foot half-court shot that beat the buzzer to end the first half. It was his first 40-plus-foot jumper of the season. He made four of them last season.

Curry wasn't overthinking the game. That zestfulness was back. He danced all evening following the swishing of his treys. He was just being himself, doing exactly what Durant has been asking of him.

"For lack of a better term, he said I need to get in my bag and be aggressive," Curry told ESPN of Durant's message. "That back-and-forth dialogue is where you build chemistry and camaraderie to get through the season. You understand what each other needs to hear. It was not a come-to-Jesus meeting; it's just being locked in, observing what's going on and having each other's back. You need that encouragement along the way."

Curry said Durant didn't have to reach out and encourage him, but he's glad he did.

"It didn't hurt," Curry said to ESPN. "I feel like I'm self-motivated enough to figure it out; but along the way, if you get in your own head, you need an outside perspective of what other people see, especially a guy that invests a lot in the game, just like I do. It didn't hurt, for sure. That's what we're going to need going forward, as well."

Durant has been careful about not stepping on toes. He said adaptability is one of his greatest traits. He wants his teammates to play to their strengths, and if anyone must sacrifice, he's willing to do so.

Durant has seen enough sacrificing from Curry, and he's going to continuously urge his point guard to just be "Steph."

"I think the whole season, he's been having an impact on the game that is kind of different from last year, where he maybe made 10 or 11 3s in the game. But this year, he's still making the right plays in pick-and-roll, drawing three or four guys and kicking out," Durant said to ESPN. "But then tonight, you see he gets hot so quick, and that's not a coincidence. That's just from him playing the right way. I want him to be himself."