Curry lights up Nets as Warriors prevail 124-120, Cam Thomas scores 41 in defeat
That was some craaaazy basketball skill last night.
Sheesh, Stephen Curry did it again.
His 37 points against the Brooklyn Nets last night temporarily stopped the bleeding on a season filled with painful pre-Christmas losses. In an 82 game season, starting off with a 11-14 record isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s also a clear indicator the team has some issues to address if they want to contend.
Thankfully Golden State’s 124-120 victory over a very game Brooklyn team showed the Dubs are finding spurts of cohesion that demonstate they still possess some real power in their haymakers. Also Monta Ellis was in the building, a man who once carried the torch for Warriors fans in the era of the Kobe-Lebron-D Wade primes.
He inspired me to write these words when Dub Nation first came together:
I recall a decade ago when face of the franchise Monta Ellis was sharing the court with bright-eyed rookie Stephen Curry. They were both 6-foot-3 combo guards whose strengths (scoring off the dribble) seemed redundant, while their combined lack of size made them a liability on the defensive end.
Back in that time, Curry showed flashes of promise that were derailed by perpetual ankle injuries. Ellis, no stranger to a major ankle injury himself, was one of the scant few remnants of the magical We Believe team that the organization systematically dismantled.
So when the new ownership group led by Joe Lacob sent Ellis packing in a trade to Milwaukee, I was pretty depressed. It seemed like the franchise was continuing in the cycle I had known for all my life: get a good player like Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber, or Jason Richardson, or Gilbert Arenas, or Baron Davis…and then let them go without making the team better.
At the time, I surely thought Ellis was the known commodity, better player, and bigger alpha dog than Curry, and I was upset that Curry stayed while Ellis left.
This is a take I’ve been excoriated for on the internet, but in real life (out in da STREETZ) there were plenty of folks who absolutely cosigned this take at the time. People forget, Monta was the MAN!
That’s why it was surreal to see a much older Monta return to a Warriors game, this time as a spectator at Chase, across the bridge from his old stomping grounds at Oracle Arena where he was the guy Curry started his career apprenticing under.
Last night the Warriors were greedily blowing yet another lead, this time to the Brooklyn Nets. Curry knew he couldn’t let this happen in front of the legend Monta. After being up 18, the Warriors were getting lit up by a dangerous Brooklyn attack spearheaded by Cam Johnson, who finished the game with 41 points.
Ummm, this Killa Cam guy is a PROBLEM. He’s an extremely entertaining scorer, with silky dribbling combined with a truly audacious jumpshooting ability. In an era where everybody wants to be a Splash Bro, Cam is looking like a true disciple of the superscorer guild, able to get to his shot off in a myriad of scenarios.
The Nets were putting up a full team effort to support Cam’s furious scoring, and I could see the vision for this team in a post-Kevin Durant/James Harden/Kyrie Irving world. Mikal Bridges is a defensive pest and a confident scorer who puts a lot of pressure on the defense to account for him. Thankfully last night he Dubs limited him to 6-of-17 shooting. Meanwhile his teammate Nick Claxton put in a hearty double-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks, sometimes simply just being bigger and stronger than anyone in a Warriors jersey.
But that’s when the Splash Bros combined forces to punish the Nets with a gutsy scoring display of their own, once again reminding us that they are one of the most dangerous duos in NBA history when they’re on at the same time.
Klay Thompson played a team-high 36 minutes, a literal miracle after the devastating Achilles and ACL injuries he suffered. He was also had team high +9 plus/minus and led the team in free throw attempts shooting 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. He also had zero turnovers, shooting 7-of-19 from the field and nailing 4-of-9 from the arc.
This was the kind of gritty game Klay has made a career of shining in, where the stakes are high down the stretch and the pressure is on. Such was the case last night when the Nets took a 103-102 lead with 7:32 remaining in the fourth. Cam Thomas took a step back bomb that narrowly missed, and Curry responded like Neo in the Matrix after he realized that reality wasn’t really reality and he could stop bullets in the air with his mind.
Incredible. From 6:46 to the 4:34 mark, Curry went on a personal 10-3 run against Brooklyn, with each one of his makes getting more and more disrespectful as he went along. He would finish the quarter with 16 points, going 7-of-7 from the field in the final frame with those buckets coming on a maddeningly high degree of difficulty.
Curry reminded us that even without Draymond Green allowed to be anywhere near a NBA area for the indeterminable future, Number 30 is not going to just be an idle victim to the franchise’s rough start to the year.
Seeing the Doug Norrie (host of the Locked On Nets pod) tweet this brief interpretation of Curry’s impact made me have a flashback to how Curry’s reign of terror is just accepted as a regular degular part of sports culture.
By the way the Warriors have some other guards who are pretty good apparently! Brandin Podziemski scored 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, 4-of-9 from downtown, with 5 boards, 5 dimes, 3 steals, and 5 turnovers. He’s getting a ton of opportunities to get his mojo going as a starter, and the rookie is finding his way so far.
The other side of that coin is that Andrew Wiggins is out of the starting lineup, but in an interesting development for Wiggins Island he actually looked pretty solid in 27 minutes as a reserve. His 14 points led all subs, and he added five rebounds for good measure. His fellow bench mobbers Chris Paul (11 assists) and Dario Saric (12 points, 6 rebounds) buoyed a strong effort from the starters to stiff-arm Brooklyn outta Chase Center.
MONTA! THIS ONE WAS FOR YOU!
Alright, who was your Warrior Wonder in the big home win? (non-Steph because he’s already busy getting ranked in the GOAT conversation).