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Rewatch Stream: Steph drops a most selfless 51 on Magic, 2/25/16
Special link for those who can’t watch the re-broadcast on NBCSN tonight, 8pm Pacific
Special link at the end for people who can’t get this broadcast.
Peak Stephen Curry playing with peak confidence. His box score looks literally like an NBA2K video game box score.
51 PTS, 7 REB, 8 AST on 20-27 shooting, 10-15 from 3
This is not a D’Antoni steroids trick where Steph dribbles and shoots every play. TWENTY SEVEN SHOTS. Here are my extensive notes from the night after.
(Not) Going For 50
But let's roll back to 5:49 in the 4th quarter. The Warriors are up 115-102, so the game is basically over if they can score a couple of times, but it's also close enough that a couple of bad possessions could make it a tight game. Curry has 46 points and has 9 threes (the game record is 12). Would anyone blame him if Curry called a bunch of high pick and rolls with Draymond, and he bombed a few threes? It's a plausible offensive scheme too. Instead, these are the next seven possessions:
5:14. Curry starts off ball, backdoor cut, fouled going for a layup.
5:00. Curry doesn't touch the ball: curl for Klay off Bogut pindown screen. Resets to Draymond drive with dish to Bogut.
4:41. Curry draws a triple team and passes out to Draymond, deflection out of bounds.
4:35. Curry sets screen for Draymond drive with Bogut roll.
4:07. Curry to Draymond who hits Bogut cutting backdoor for a dunk.
3:50. Curry passes out of a layup to give Draymond a layup.
Now we've reached 3:30 left and it's a 13 point game. It's almost time to pull the starters. Curry is still stuck on 46 points and 9 3's because HE HAS NOT TAKEN A SHOT IN SEVEN POSSESSIONS (or one non-three if you count the backdoor layup) and has been setting up other teammates. He's basically given up the chance to get 12 3's and has much harder road to 50 before he's pulled (any minute now!) with the starters.
First, I have no doubt that if Curry were the no-conscience gunner that Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan were, he would have multiple 60 point games by now, and perhaps a 70 or 80 point game. But the Warriors probably wouldn't have as many wins, and they wouldn't have the tight team-focus that has made them literally the GREATEST REGULAR SEASON TEAM IN NBA HISTORY so far. (So weird.) Remember how Draymond earlier this year admitted that chasing triple-doubles made him mess up the team's play? Can you imagine if Harrison Barnes went out of the offense to get his numbers in a contract year? Or the bench players gunned for theirs? Or if Andrew Bogut went for shot block records instead of playing sound defense? The team works better when everyone pushes for the best team play. And that happens when your leaders Curry and Green put the win before their stats.
And really, can you picture Westbrook, Harden or Kyrie on the verge of getting 50 or near the three-point record and playing off-ball and setting up teammates for seven possessions in a row? Even SCREENING for others?
Tonight, Curry made the right plays while the game was in doubt, then fired up a couple of shots taking a last stab at 50, then got it when he was done trying for it. The Basketball Gods chuckle.
Don’t tell the NBA about this link.