Stephen Curry, if nothing else, left a mark on the NBA tonight. En route to a career-high 54 points and a team-record 11 3-point shots made in a single game, Curry torched the New York Knicks at the famed Madison Square Garden for 47 minutes. In the Garden’s nearly 50 years as the Knick’s home, just 13 players have eclipsed the 50-point mark. Just 8 have done so playing for the visiting squad. Of those 8, just 5 have topped 54 points. Curry, the baby-faced assassin, entered rare company with his performance, putting his name alongside greats like Michael Jordan (career high 55 at MSG), Kobe Bryant (61), and LeBron James (52), as well as in the realm of legends like Elgin Baylor (71) and Wilt Chamberlain (73). Included in that list of 5 players is Warriors legend Rick Barry, who once scored 57 points against the Knicks at MSG. Something else the two players have in common? They both lost.
In a way that seemed fitting for the Warriors’ franchise, an all-time great game from Curry was squandered as the Warriors fumbled away a close game down the stretch. With multiple turnovers and missed open shots, in addition to a Curry shot that was blocked with the game tied, the game’s final minutes belonged to the Knicks, who came away with the 109-105 victory.
On a night where Curry could seemingly not miss, Raymond Felton found the only way to stop him. His blocked shot set up J.R. Smith for the tie-breaking basket, and Curry’s amazing night became a whole lot less memorable. I don’t mean to sound like I’m taking away from his accomplishment. Win or lose, 54 points in the Garden is an all-time game, and probably Stephen Curry’s best of his career. Even in the loss, it might be his most memorable as well, though his previous high, 42-point, 9-rebound, 8-assist Win over Portland to cap off his rookie year might have something to say about that.
All-in-all Stephen Curry was great, for 47 minutes. In a game in which he played all 48, it’s the final minute that did the Warriors in. You might say that Steph getting his shot blocked cost the Warriors game, but that would be silly, and wrong. The Warriors beat themselves on the defensive end, allowing Knick free-throw attempts; on the boards, losing the battle 46-38 and 16-5 on the offensive end; and by turning the ball over 17 times to New York’s 10. With David Lee out due to suspension, the Warriors starting lineup didn’t pack much of an offensive punch. The other 4 starters combined to score just 13 points on 6-22 shooting, with just 1 from long range and no FTs. Curry’s back-court mate, Klay Thompson, finished just 3-13 from the field with 6 points and an 0-6 mark from downtown. He was the starting unit’s leading scorer, followed by Draymond Green with 4, Harrison Barnes with 3, and Andris Biedrins with 0 points in 7 minutes.
The rest of the Warriors’ offense came from the bench duo of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. Even in out-performing the starters, Jack didn’t have a very good night, either. With just 14 points on 15 field goal attempts, to go with 2 assists and 4 turnovers, he was definitely not his typically reliable self. Landry fared a bit better, scoring 15 on just 4 attempts, and a 9-10 mark from the FT line. But he also committed 5 of the Warriors’ 17 turnovers and pulled down only 3 rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
And so, Curry’s personal best performance will go down as a game that the Warriors almost won. He outscored Carmelo Anthony by 19 on just 2 more field goal attempts. An NBA-season high 54 points.He didn’t deserve that Warrior performance tonight. Not the way he played, and I hope each and every Warrior holds themselves accountable for taking away from a potential win, as well as Steph’s personal accomplishment. These are the type of games your teammates are supposed to have your back in. With an effort like that on offense, there’s no reason the rest of your teammates shouldn’t be “balls to the wall” on the other end, locking down the opponent and snagging rebounds. Instead, they got bullied down low by Tyson Chandler all night, while playing lazy defense far too often, and while I know Stephen Curry won’t take it out on his teammates, I certainly have no reason not to call them out where I see fit. They needed to step up, all of them, and they just didn’t.
Congrats to Steph on his amazing night. I just wish he had gotten a W to go with it.