The Golden State Warriors did it again Wednesday, overcoming an early deficit with scintillating second-half shooting to down the Dallas Mavericks, 128-114, in front of a raucous crowd at ORACLE Arena.
The Warriors trailed by as many as 22 points, but thanks to a 51-point night from Stephen Curry, who erupted for 26 points in the third quarter, Golden State staged a miraculous comeback en route to a double-digit win.
“When they started making that comeback, he started getting hot,” Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The only way they could get back is if he got hot.”
He did. Curry shot 16-of-26 from the floor, including 10-of-16 from three-point range, falling just shy of the career-high 54 points he scored against the Knicks in New York in February 2013.
Curry’s performance came less than two weeks after Klay Thompson scored 52 points – including 37 in the third quarter – in a 126-101 win over Sacramento on Jan. 23.
“The funny thing is, (Curry) had 26 (in that quarter),” Spears said. “But after seeing Klay have 37, we don’t even tweet about the 26. It’s like, ‘Eh, he didn’t have 30. He didn’t have 35.’ It’s like this crazy standard they got around here now with how the Warriors are doing things.”
Crazy, yes. But still breathtaking.
“I will say this,” Spears said. “I have (been) stationed here as an NBA writer. I grew up in the Bay Area and have seen a lot of bad basketball. But watching those two guys – Klay and Steph – it’s a pleasure, and I really enjoy seeing what they’re doing and how they’re growing as players.”
Asked which backcourt in the league is comparable – or can at least match up – with Curry and Thompson, Spears didn’t hesitate.
“There’s nobody,” he said. “I found it laughable before the season when you heard Kyrie (Irving) – and mostly Dion Waiters – talk smack to (Bradley) Beal and John Wall. And you know, John Wall and Beal is a pretty good backcourt. But those guys can’t shoot like these two guys can. Kyrie’s a great scorer, and John Wall’s a great scorer – don’t get me wrong. But in a three-point competition, I wouldn’t be surprised if (Thompson and Curry finish) 1-2. They’re explosive. I don’t know how you guard them. Most nights, they are pretty hot.”
The Warriors’ win sets up a monumental showdown between the top teams in the league Friday, as Golden State (39-8) travels to Atlanta to take on the Hawks (41-9). Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. ET.
“I like the Warriors,” Spears said. “I give them the edge. The Warriors also lead the league in assists, if I’m not mistaken. I believe Atlanta is second. The Warriors, they don’t just shoot (jumpers). They get a lot of fast-break points. I think they’re viewed as a jump-shooting team – and that is certainly a strength of theirs – but they get a lot of easy buckets, too.”
They’ll need them against Atlanta, which has won 20 of its last 21 games and ranks third in the league in scoring defense (96.5 points per game).
“Nobody in the league has been playing better defense than them,” Spears said. “I just really think the Warriors are unguardable. You go those two guys in the backcourt shooting how they shoot and you got a guy like Harrison Barnes as your third or fourth option. Draymond Green’s been hot, (Andrew) Bogut gives them some size. As one assistant coach from another team told me, it’s just not fair because when the Warriors go to their bench, they got two max players on their bench in David Lee and (Andre) Iguodala.
“And I think that’s were, in a lot of ways, (the Warriors are so successful),” Spears continued. “When they go to the bench, that’s how they jump ahead because most benches aren’t even in the same atmosphere (in terms) of (the) talent they have. In fact, I think sometimes their bench is better than some of (the starters they face on other teams).”