For about 46 minutes, Stephen Curry made it look easy.
Curry dropped 54 on the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, but somehow, it wasn’t enough. The Warriors shouldn’t have needed more, but they came up short, losing to the Knicks 109-105.
Without David Lee — suspended by the league on Wednesday for his role in the altercation in Indiana on Tuesday night — someone had to step up to fill the shoes of the missing co-captain.
In front of a New York crowd that has witnessed more than its share of virtuoso performances at the world’s most famous arena, Curry splashed in rainbows from beyond the arc that made the MSG fans “ooh” and “aah.” Even veteran Knicks beat writer Frank Isola from the New York Daily News was impressed.
Curry's three at the end of the quarter had the Garden buzzing…the way Jordan, Kobe and LeBron sometimes have the crowd buzzing
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) February 28, 2013
By the end of the night, Curry had set a new Warriors record with 11 three-pointers in the game, finishing one shy of the NBA record of 12 held by Kobe Bryant and former Warrior Donyell Marshall. Curry also became just the 23rd player in the history of Madison Square Garden to score 50 or more points.
With 8:25 left in the 4th quarter, Curry hit a driving lay-up that gave him 43, a new career high. He didn’t stop there. He kept going — despite being hounded by double-teams most of the second half — until he had poured in his NBA season-high 54 points.
After the game, Curry told the media his confidence built as the night went on:
Warriors guard Stephen Curry
“I felt good all night…once I started to see that three ball go down in transition from all sorts of spots on the floor, I knew it was going to be a good night. … I had confidence to rise up and take it wherever I was on the floor.”
Curry was asked if he realized how many points he had:
“Not really until my teammates started jabbing at me. They were in my ear treating me like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, trying not to touch my right hand.”
Curry on this performance coming in a loss:
“It’s tough, you want to be able to celebrate a performance like that with a win. Especially on the road, especially with (David Lee) DLee, (Andrew) Bogut and (Brandon) Rush not here. … So this would have been a big win, but I’m just blessed to have played the way I did and to have a chance to win down the stretch.”
The snubbed All-Star worked hard for every shot and earned this performance. In the bruising loss, Curry played all 48 minutes, adding seven assists, six rebounds and three steals to his eye-popping 54 points.
Win or lose, this is one of the greatest individual single-game performances in recent Warriors history.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 28, 2013
Of course the all-time NBA and franchise record is Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points scored on March 2, 1962 when the then-Philadelphia Warriors played the Knicks in Hershey, Pa.
Wilt also set the West Coast franchise record with 73 points — also against the Knicks, also at the Garden — on November 16, 1962.
The most points scored by a Warriors player in the last 30 years are:
|59||Purvis Short||Nov. 17, 1984|
|57||Purvis Short||Jan. 7, 1984|
|54||Stephen Curry||Feb. 27, 2013|
|52||Joe Barry Carroll||Mar. 5, 1983|
|51||Eric “Sleepy” Floyd||May 10, 1987 *|
|51||Antawn Jamison||Dec. 3, 2000|
|51||Antawn Jamison||Dec. 6, 2000|
|50||Jamal Crawford||Dec. 20, 2008|
* – Playoffs