Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry delivered a classy performance Saturday night, after which head coach Steve Kerr was pleased, “He’s never played better.
It was not enough to get past Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
Despite 57 points and 11 assists from Curry, the Warriors lost 134-132 to the Mavs, who got 42 points and 11 assists from Doncic.
This defeat did not stop Kerr and Doncic from dominating the entire game. He scored 19:31 from the field and 11:19 over the arc in the 37th minute.
“Great,” Mr. Kerr said. “Those were ridiculous pictures he took.” The difficulty. The ease with which he made them. He never played better. We’re talking about a double MVP, a triple champion….. I’ve never seen him like this. He looks so strong.
“Of course, he’s always had a great shot, but he just seems stronger at getting close to people, driving them from the alley to the rim and pinning them. And of course, it’s just incredible what he does there”.
Doncic stepped up, going 12 for 23 from the field and 7 for 12 on a deep throw, but the young guard was still impressed with Curry’s performance, hitting from all angles from the floor.
“Every time he hit the ball, I thought it was going to go in,” Doncic said in a post-game interview with ESPN.
Curry, who overtook Reggie Miller for second place on the three-point list two weeks ago, continues to accumulate shooting numbers. Saturday’s performance marked the 40th time in Curry’s 12-year career that he has scored at least 40 points in a game and the eighth time he has scored at least 50 points. It was also the 16th time Curry had scored 10 or more points in a game.
After making a three-pointer near the Mavericks logo midway through the first half, Curry, who scored 30 points in the first half, made his famous shimmy, a celebratory gesture that is among the finest moments of his career. He added five assists, two rebounds and two steals on a night when the Mavericks kept trying to slow his momentum with extra defenders.
Asked about his assessment that he is playing the best basketball of his career, Mr. Curry reiterated that he feels his body is in good shape as he faces more and more defenders each night. He said he believes he can handle the additional bodies that will come his way this season.
“I feel strong,” Curry said. “I feel like I have a good rhythm. And obviously, since last year, I’m enjoying being back on the court and being healthy. So I really feel like I’m in control of my game and learning along with my team as we continue to try to improve this season and gain speed. It’s been a strange year. I’m playing well and we’re getting better as a team; we just need to add all those wins together and then we can all feel a little bit better.
Curry scored just over a month after setting a career record with 62 points in a home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on January 3.
“I don’t know if there’s a tougher player in basketball right now than Steph Curry,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said, “because he has a different effect on the game and just his inexplicable ability to make shots from anywhere on the court. It’s easy to get discouraged when a player throws a shot from 30 feet in your face and all that, but our guys persevered and found a way to win.
Kent Bazemore, the warrior’s guard, was precise in his praise after Kerry’s 57 points.
“The best basketball player right now,” Mr. Bazemore said. “It’s unreal. Brad Wanamaker and I were sitting on the bench and we were wondering how, on the one hand, we were lucky enough to see him, and on the other hand, it’s so easy.
“When you’re in the heat and the guy doesn’t have the conscience to come down from 40 feet, it’s incredible. It’s incredible. You have to be there.”
Curry has long said that he feels like every shot he makes is a cannon shot, but on nights like this, when most of his shots are fired, he knows that every team has a hard time stopping him.
“That’s great,” Curry said, “especially when, depending on when the defense is holding you, there have been some hard looks. But for the most part, I could see where the help was coming from – and where the screens were coming from – and go to my spots.” So it’s always a good feeling when you feel like you’re in a rhythm and you just need a clean look and things are disappointing. But you can also stay aggressive and keep that rhythm going.
“So it was that night … and it was clear that you wanted to win. It’s a mixture of emotions right now.”
Tim McMahon of ESPN contributed to this report.
doncic, golden state