Boiling Point: Stephen Curry’s 54-point explosion at Madison Square Garden Last Night Was Pure Joy to Witness, Even Through a Television


Stephen Curry is the best shooter in the NBA.  No debate.  Not even a conversation.  Watching him in these last two games, against the Pacers and Knicks, the adolescent three-point shooter in me is enamored.  The man is pure joy to watch shoot the basketball.  He had the Knicks crowd literally murmuring to themselves in disbelief for most of the second half last night.  Mike Woodson was triple-teaming him the second he crossed the half-court line.  And Curry refused to be denied.  It seemed only to provide extra determination to the wiry, impenetrable Curry.  The son of former sharpshooter Dell Curry, Steph has been turning heads in Oakland since day one.  Now in his fourth season (third full year after missing the second half of last year with an ankle injury), Curry has arrived.  Last night’s effort in New York seemed to be a statement to the league, and thus, we shall call it “The Arrival.”  Curry, who was snubbed his first All-Star appearance earlier this month, put the Association on notice with his insane show, swishing 11 of his 13 threes.  I write “swishing” because Curry’s triples don’t roll around and in.  They never knuckle their way through the net the way Tim Hardaway did it.  He never coaxes the ball in the way Paul Pierce sometimes has to on tired legs.  His shots sneak through the net with ease, sometimes the net barely seems to notice.  He could drop threes on a rim that was 12 inches in diameter, rather than the standard 18-inch rim.  In other words, his margin of error is greater than anyone I’ve ever seen shoot.  The way the net moves (or doesn’t) is evidence of his pinpoint accuracy.

Historic Pace

Kyle Korver may be leading the league in 3-point percentage at the moment (.464 to .460), but Curry takes (385 to 304) and makes (177 to 141) more often from distance.  Steph Curry is a point guard who can get his own shot whenever he wants it, because of his ball-handling skills.  The New York Knicks beat Golden State last night, 109-105, but Steph Curry’s performance made the score irrelevant.  Had Klay Thompson or Jarrett Jack been able to step up in David Lee’s absence, Curry’s performance would have surely resulted in another big road win for the Warriors.  Curry made the right pass when the Knicks’ triple-team was just too much to overcome, and even Rondo, Parker, or Paul would have had trouble escaping with a dribble.  Curry’s night sent shivers down my spine.  The game will be saved to the DVR.  “Keep Until I Delete” without a doubt.

The Zone: Curry’s Confidence

It wasn’t just the 11 of 13 from long-range, or the 54 points on a mere 28 shots (how’s that for efficiency?).  It was the complete and utter belief in himself that Curry possesses that allowed him to reach that proverbial “zone” that fans see the select few players reach.  We’ve seen Pierce, Kobe, Dirk and Wade get there.  We’ve seen Ginobili, Parker, Durant and Westbrook get there.  We witnessed LeBron get there and seemingly stay there, starting with Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston last year, and continue on throughout the NBA Finals.  But the majority of these guys are taller than 6’3″ and get their shots off over their defenders.  While Parker has a silky jumper, his range is roughly 18-23 feet, while Curry’s is comfortable up to 26 or 28 feet, which allows him to attempt so many.  Defenders look down at the court, see they are beyond the arc themselves, and figure, “I can’t go out any further, unless he’s going to drive right by me.”  Next thing they know, Curry has dropped in another swish, and is making his way casually back down the court.  I’ve never heard him discuss it, but having a father who taught him what becoming a pure shooter is like, and the degree to which staying completely confidence in your stroke has been embedded in his psyche, had to have played a part in Steph’s development.

Dennis Scott’s NBA-record 267 three-pointers made in 1995-96 came as a result of having the most dominant big man of his era, Shaquille O’Neal as a teammate for 54 of those 82 games.  Scott managed to connect on 11 of 17 in game 80.  Curry, on the other hand, is doing it all on his own.  And at age 24, he’s only getting better.

Full Highlights from the 54-point barrage on New York:

Slow-Motion Highlights with Close-Ups:

The play-by-play is listed below in order to show how far from the hoop Curry’s triples were coming.  That’s why they call it “long-distance.”

***

Jonah Hall writes about and raves about basketball at The Darko Index.  He is greatly appreciative of anyone who spreads Darko Index links to their hoops-loving friends.  He used to shoot three-pointers all the time.  To the point, where it’d be getting dark and kind of hard to see, but he could still hear the ball when it went “swish” and when it went “clang.”  If you feel so inclined, the donate link at the top of the home page is kind of like a “tip” jar.  Keep shooting!

True Hoop TV’s short interview from 2/28/13: Stephen Curry interview from True Hoop

1st Quarter Summary
TIME GOLDEN STATE
11:08 Stephen Curry misses 25-foot three point jumper
10:07 Stephen Curry makes jumper
9:42 Stephen Curry defensive rebound
9:34 Harrison Barnes makes three point jumper (Stephen Curry assists)
9:04 Stephen Curry misses 17-foot jumper
8:26 Stephen Curry bad pass (Iman Shumpert steals)
3:41 Stephen Curry makes 3-foot two point shot
2:33 Stephen Curry misses jumper
2:13 Stephen Curry lost ball turnover (Iman Shumpert steals)
1:52 Stephen Curry misses 21-foot jumper
2nd Quarter Summary
11:19 Jason Kidd blocks Stephen Curry ‘s 4-foot jumper
11:12 Stephen Curry defensive rebound
10:55 Stephen Curry defensive rebound
10:26 Stephen Curry shooting foul (Amar’e Stoudemire draws the foul)
9:30 Stephen Curry makes two point shot
9:15 Stephen Curry makes technical free throw
9:00 Stephen Curry makes 20-foot jumper (Carl Landry assists)
7:48 Stephen Curry makes 28-foot three point jumper
6:41 Stephen Curry makes 25-foot three point jumper
5:13 Stephen Curry makes 25-foot three point jumper (Jarrett Jack assists)
5:03 Stephen Curry personal foul (Raymond Felton draws the foul)
4:26 Stephen Curry misses 25-foot three point jumper
3:30 Stephen Curry makes 6-foot two point shot
2:51 Carl Landry makes 17-foot jumper (Stephen Curry assists)
2:15 Stephen Curry misses 23-foot jumper
1:35 Stephen Curry makes 18-foot jumper
1:13 Stephen Curry makes free throw 1 of 2
1:13 Stephen Curry makes free throw 2 of 2
0:00 End of the 2nd Quarter
3rd Quarter Summary
10:45 Stephen Curry makes three point jumper (Draymond Green assists)
9:56 Festus Ezeli makes two point shot (Stephen Curry assists)
9:23 Stephen Curry makes 25-foot three point jumper
8:59 Stephen Curry makes driving layup
7:37 Stephen Curry misses 22-foot jumper
6:47 Stephen Curry lost ball turnover (Raymond Felton steals)
3:41 Jarrett Jack makes 24-foot three point jumper (Stephen Curry assists)
3:30 Stephen Curry kicked ball violation
0:05 Stephen Curry makes 27-foot 3-pointer
0:00 End of the 3rd Quarter
4th Quarter Summary
10:30 Carl Landry makes layup (Stephen Curry assists)
10:00 Stephen Curry makes 25-foot three point jumper
9:10 Stephen Curry misses 4-foot lay-up
8:25 Stephen Curry makes driving layup
7:11 Stephen Curry makes 24-foot three point jumper
6:20 Draymond Green makes 19-foot jumper (Stephen Curry assists)
5:15 Draymond Green makes layup (Stephen Curry assists)
4:46 Stephen Curry defensive rebound
4:43 Stephen Curry makes 25-foot three pointer
3:42 Stephen Curry makes 25-foot three point jumper (Carl Landry assists)
3:18 Stephen Curry defensive rebound
3:13 Stephen Curry bad pass (Iman Shumpert steals)
2:04 Stephen Curry makes free throw 1 of 2
2:04 Stephen Curry makes free throw 2 of 2
1:28 Raymond Felton blocks Stephen Curry ‘s 20-foot jumper
0:17 Stephen Curry defensive rebound
0:00 End of Game
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