- Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.
SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry scored 38 points in a 115-105 win over the LA Clippers on Friday night at Chase Center, bringing his team all the way back from a 22-point second half deficit while reminding the rest of the basketball world just how much more fun the game can be when he goes off on one of his patented hot streaks.
“Pretty awesome, awesome night, considering how the first 28 minutes went,” said Curry, who bounced back after being held to 13 points in Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers.
The latest example of Curry’s brilliance came on a night when the Warriors struggled to find any rhythm during the first half and relied on the two-time MVP to put the team on his back as he has done countless times through the years.
Curry poured in nine 3-pointers, went 13-for-24 from the field and dished out 11 assists in 36 minutes. In a week that has already featured Curry scoring 62 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, the latest performance was almost as impressive, given how dominant the Clippers’ defense appeared to be at times early in the game.
“He’s making shots that you be like, ‘Whoa!'” Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins said. “There’s not a lot of shots that he can’t make. As soon as he steps over half, he’s a threat, so he causes a lot of attention. So when he gets rolling, you just sit back and watch and let him roll.”
In a week full of great performances, Curry’s scoring barrage left teammates and coaches in awe again. It was Curry who sparked a 64-40 second-half run by the Warriors that earned the team its most impressive win of the season.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr had to chuckle a little while describing how Curry got rolling when things appeared so dim for his team.
“Number one, because he’s Steph Curry,” Kerr said. “There’s not too much you have to say beyond it’s just who Steph is. He’s been doing this for many, many years and one of the reasons he’s a two-time MVP and he’s a phenomenal basketball player. And usually with Steph when he has a tough game he bounces back [in] the next one. That’s part of his character, part of his competitiveness. He found something out there, he found some openings, and got himself going.”
Curry went on such a tear heading into the fourth quarter that Kerr said his assistant coaches came to him with an idea to start the fourth: They wanted to keep him in the game at the start of the quarter, a move that doesn’t usually happen for a player who has grown accustomed to a similar substitution pattern through the years.
The change continued to help open the floor for the rest of his teammates and gave them confidence that they could come all the way back from such a large deficit.
“I mean you got a guy that’s hot like that, it takes a lot of pressure off for everybody at that point,” Clippers swingman Paul George said. “Guys play harder. They got a guy who at any point can get hot and is an obvious offensive threat from anywhere on the court. It just fuels the whole team. They want to make extra plays, they want to keep their guy hot, keep the ball in his hands. And then it just gets to a point where they get comfortable, they get confident, the basket is just big for them. So I think that is what happened tonight.”
To put Curry’s recent play into more context, he is now 141-39 in his career when he scores 30 or more points. That’s a .783 win percentage and is the third-best all time among 78 players to record at least 100 3-point games. The only players who have a better percentage are Larry Bird and Hal Greer, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
“If I can create shots and create momentum scoring the basketball, there’s probably going to be some more attention my way,” Curry said. “And they know that I’m going to try and make the right play at all times and get going and get guys opportunities. For us, we just can’t get in our feelings like we did in the first half, myself included, in terms of if it’s not clicking that we kind of lose our energy a little bit. So that’s on everybody, but that’s on me obviously in terms of just keeping my foot on the gas pedal no matter what’s happening in the game.”
Curry’s latest scoring spree had Warriors personnel almost shaking their heads in collective disbelief after the game.
“Sometimes, I’ve got to remember that I’m his teammate,” Warriors forward Eric Paschall said. “I’m so used to watching it on TV. Sometimes I got to remember like, ‘Hey, hold on. You’re playing with Steph.’ But sometimes you don’t want to sit there and watch. I’m not going to lie.”
On top of Curry’s performance, the Warriors ended their night with a joyous moment when Curry and the rest of the roster handed the game ball to longtime scorekeeper Fred Kast.
Kast, who has worked for the team for 57 years, got a picture with the Warriors players and made one final basket under the rim with Curry by his side.
“That was such a cool moment,” Kerr said. “It’s just remarkable when you think about how many basketball games Fred has seen, and how much he’s committed to the Warriors organization. Going back to working games at the Cow Palace. It was so beautiful to see him out there. He was genuinely thrilled to be on the court with the guys. They signed the game ball, gave it to him. It was really a beautiful moment. It’s the stuff that happens in sports that I think that pulls us all towards basketball, towards competition. All the people around the team who help and who are passionate about the game, are a part of all this. It was beautiful.”
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.
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