He didn’t start, he missed his first 10 three-point attempts and he had just 11 points at halftime.
It didn’t matter. When it mattered most, Steph Curry played his best – and he did just that in Portland in Game 4 on Monday.
Curry erupted for 29 second-half points, including 17 points in overtime – the most by a single player in NBA history – and led the Warriors to a 132-125 win to go up 3-1 in the series.
Golden State can close out Portland in Game 5 on Wednesday.
“I’ve been around this team a lot of years, and I’ve been particularly close to this team the past three years,” CSN Bay Area Warriors insider Monte Poole told Paul Nanos, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I’ve watched them go from 51 wins to 67 wins to 73 wins. I’ve watched Steph Curry go from an injury-prone guy who they weren’t sure was part of the future to becoming the face of the franchise to becoming an MVP to becoming a two-time MVP. I’ve seen him do some tremendous things, some truly spectacular things, some historical things – 402 three-pointers this season just shattered his own record. What I saw tonight surpasses anything I’ve seen him do give his condition and given the circumstances around the game.”
Portland led 21-5 in the first quarter and 67-57 at halftime.
“The Blazers gave the Warriors all they could handle,” Poole said. “Took them into overtime and the Warriors were looking at 2-2 going back to Oakland for Game 5. Steph, in overtime, was beyond incredible. It just seemed as if he had found something that had been missing. This wasn’t Steph playing at an MVP level; this was him playing at a level beyond what we see normally from anyone on this planet. This was just something otherworldly. To have him score 17 points in five minutes in a playoff game – think about that.”
Early on, Poole said that the Moda Center, which he deemed one of the five loudest arenas in the NBA, “was roaring.”
“They sensed that the Blazers had a chance to win the game,” he said. “Portland led for most of the game. In the fourth quarter, once it got to overtime, I sensed a little bit of dread in the building. And once Steph started shooting and making shots, I sensed a level of resignation. It seemed like they realized they were being led to the slaughter. There was nobody that was going to stop this kid. Damian Lillard played another tremendous game. He’s been great in this postseason. But when Steph gets it going like that, it almost doesn’t matter where he is when he shoots it. It’s going to go in. And most of the time, it doesn’t just go in. It doesn’t even touch the rim. It just goes in and it drops right through the net.
“Up to now, the single-most tremendous moment that I’ve seen from him this season was the game at Oklahoma City, here he made the (long three) to win the game,” Poole continued. “Because in that game, he had rolled this ankle and it looked horrible. He went to the locker room and I thought, ‘Okay, he’s done for the day. That thing rolled hard.’ He not only came back, he came back and took over the game. That was truly incredible. But tonight, when you think of the fact that this was a playoff game in a building that’s tough to play in, against a team that was giving the Warriors all they could handle – and for him, this morning, he wasn’t sure he was going to play. This afternoon, he wasn’t sure he was going to play. And this evening, he was going to play but he wasn’t going to start. He came off the bench.”
Poole figured Curry would play 20-25 minutes. He wound up playing 37 and, despite not playing a full game in almost a month, had the energy at the end to take over, making five of his final six threes.
“It’s incredible stuff,” Poole said. “It was truly a special moment.”