SAN FRANCISCO – Stephen Curry would not be arrested. Not this night. Not at Chase Center. Not by the Boston Celtics and their third defense. Not because of his recent cold attack. Not out of fatigue. Not through bad trouble. Not because of the doubt and dysfunction swirling around the Golden State Warriors.
“Curry must have a bad back,” rookie guard Brandin Podziemski, who left the game with lower back pain, said randomly from his locker after the Warriors’ 132-126 overtime victory over Boston. .
The stakes were too high. The Warriors are trying to restart their season. They are struggling to find their footing after a pile of wasted victories followed by the indefinite suspension of Draymond Green. They needed galvanizing greatness to recover from a disappointing first third of the season, struggling stars, fluctuating rotations and the realities of a monstrous Western Conference.
So, understanding the mission, Curry took over. He scored 20 points and assisted on nine more points in the final 17 minutes on Tuesday, including overtime, finishing with 33 points and 6 assists.
But the momentum builds over the moments. Curry, a maestro of the memorable, was in rhythm and determined to get the signature victory Golden State desperately needed. With the Warriors leading by two in overtime, he curled up on a screen and came in with Jaylen Brown on his hip. Curry got to the rim and, after a pump fake, dropped in the layup to put the Warriors ahead 127-123 with 38 seconds left.
Celtics big man Al Horford followed with a 3-point basket, increasing the drama. But Curry had another noble delivery. He caught Chris Paul’s cross-ice pass as Celtics guard Derrick White charged directly at him. With the shot clock ticking down to less than three seconds, the defense closing in and the tension pulsing, Curry turned to his quick release. The catch-and-shoot was over in the blink of an eye.
And he hoisted the 3-pointer from the right wing high enough for White’s desperation closeout to fail. High enough to raise eyebrows and chin. High enough to slow down time. Curry practices those moonshots. Not just for scenarios like this. But because the splash hits differently. And with the Celtics reeling and the Warriors on the verge of a signature victory, Curry wanted an emphatic touch.
Let it rain.
“He grabbed it so quickly and released it in the air,” Warriors guard Cory Joseph said. “It was like one of those movie shots where you follow the ball. He shot that thing so high.
It’s been a tough week for Curry. The emotional toll of his basketball player brother, his sidekick in championship glory, turns into a spectacle. The unmistakable reality of their dynasty’s limited excellence in an emerging new era. The lead burned and the position buried in the ranking. Doubt arises among them. He even changed his pregame routine to escape the noise.
The Warriors beat Brooklyn and Portland last weekend to generate positive vibes. Their 2022 NBA Finals victims coming to town, sporting the best record in the NBA, were an opportunity to build on. Curry was keenly aware of how much his team could use the momentum of an upset victory. How they could stand a reminder of their potential and how powerful they can be at their best. As long as they have curry.
If he’s great, the Warriors don’t need to finish him. They just have to be different. Young players are no longer mere accessories. Golden State’s best are no longer exploited exclusively in their championship core. But also in the explosive athleticism of Jonathan Kuminga. In the agitation and intelligence of Podziemski. In the size and presence of Trayce Jackson-Davis. In the eternal availability of Moses Moody.
The Chase Center was filled with new energy Tuesday thanks to these young people. Especially Jackson-Davis, the rookie center who was effective enough that coach Steve Kerr could rely exclusively on center for most of the second half. Twice he came from the weak side to protect the rim, including a massive block on a Brown dunk in overtime.
“The two blocks of Trayce,” Curry said, “you feel the crowd going in there. It gets everyone excited. And that JK steals from the first minute of overtime. I feed off the energy of the crowd and these two guys created that with spectacular individual plays.
It all starts with Curry and his elite. One game after missing all eight of his 3-pointers against Portland, he made 6 of 11 against the Celtics. On Tuesday, he clearly wanted to make a statement.
Midway through the fourth quarter, a the barrage of 3 from the Splash Brothers sent Chase Center into a frenzy. And Curry became the player who left Boston in ruins two summers ago.
The Celtics’ 17-point lead was down to 4 after a 3-pointer by Klay Thompson at the 3:53 mark. And 50 seconds later, the Warriors’ deficit was 116-115 after Curry drilled a 30-footer with Horford in drop coverage. The next time, Thompson tied the game with another 3-pointer. Then, after White responded with a 3-pointer, Curry waved off the screen to go iso against Horford and drilled a stepback 3-pointer to tie the game again at 121.
Let it rain.
“This guy is magical. You can’t explain it,” Kerr said of Curry, later adding: “Steph brings joy to the world. He is incredible.
But before the joy, there was the slow-motion eternity of the balloon sailing through the air. There is something hypnotizing about the highest planes. They impress with their degree of difficulty, with their cinematic thrill. Curry’s dagger was launched about 13 feet above the court — higher than the backboard, higher than the shot clock — and with it loomed the possibility of a Warriors revival.
Curry knew he was going in when he released his hands. And he knew that splash would add emphasis, adding to the suspense of that liminal space between another disappointing ending and the dawning of better days.
When it splashed, the beauty of the shot, the purity of the moment, left an entire arena and a national audience breathless. And his teammates.
“Being on the field, watching it, against the No. 1 team in the league,” Jackson-Davis said. “And the way he pulled it skyward.” I was just under the edge. I was looking at him like, “Oh, wait a minute. It could go in. Ridiculous.”
When he splashed, the Celtics were defeated, cooked by an all-too-familiar chef.
“Obviously being on the end of that type of situation sucks,” said Celtics guard Jrue Holiday, who was drafted 10 spots after Curry in the 2009 draft and is one of Curry’s toughest defenders . “But sometimes seeing how he does it is pretty amazing.”
When this broke, the league had a memorandum on Curry’s value as an MVP.
“From keeping it all these years to seeing it up close now,” Joseph said. “It’s truly amazing. I can’t take what he does for granted. When he gets into these zones, you sometimes find yourself staring at him, just in awe.»
When he splashed, the Warriors secured the biggest victory of the season, the triumph of quality affirming their belief. in a ceiling higher than their record.
Let it rain.
Warriors snatch victory from Celtics in overtime as their youth reappears
(Photo of Curry leaving the court after Tuesday’s win: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)