As good as he had been through 12 games, we knew Stephen Curry was capable of more. The Warriors point guard was going to demoralize some poor team, and soon. The only questions were when and which team.
It was Tuesday night against the Heat in Miami.
Curry went off for 40 points in a 114-97 win at American Airlines Arena. Of his 19 shots, 12 splashed through the net. He was even better on 3-pointers, drilling 8-of-11. Because he could, Curry added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.
"I thought he played the perfect game," coach Steve Kerr said, "so I'm pretty happy with everything he did."
That's because Curry delivered more than mere numbers. He orchestrated on offense, played solid defense and made shots in the final minutes that allowed the Warriors to separate from a plucky opponent.
"He took the game over offensively for us," center Andrew Bogut said.
"He was unreal," Kerr said. "He was ridiculous."
This is the Curry that was voted last season to start the All-Star Game, the Curry widely considered the league's best shooter and gaining acclaim as its top point guard.
Two nights after missing 10 of 15 shots at Oklahoma City, Curry torched the Heat.
"We're going to have to win games all sorts of ways, with all sorts of individual performances," Curry said. "No matter how we shot last game, it doesn't have anything to do with this game.
"I was feeling rhythm. I had some guys that set some great screens early in the game to kind of get me going, get me some space. And then when you start finding shots, it just feels good. Even the ones I missed (badly) felt good off my hands."
Curry has played well since reducing his turnovers, but his shooting numbers have been down across board. He only recently moved ahead forward Draymond Green to become the team's third-best 3-point shooter this season, behind Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.
Games such as this one will put Curry back in his rightful place, as the most dangerous bomber in the game. This was his first true signature performance of the season.
"When he's in that mode," Bogut said, "it's a luxury for us to play with him."
THE GOOD: Curry at his best, in most every way.
The Warriors played marvelous defense in the second half, holding the Heat to 35 points on 11-of-40 (27.5 percent) shooting. Brandon Rush, still seeking his offense, blocked three shots in 12 minutes.
Thompson also bounced back from a poor performance in Oklahoma City, delivering 24 points, four rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.
Bogut played 32 minutes, more than the Warriors would have liked, but finished with a game-high 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. His eight points came on 4-of-5 from the field.
THE BAD: The Warriors allowed Miami to score 62 points in the first half, including 36 in the first quarter – more than the Heat has scored in any quarter this season.
"They had it rolling in the first half,'' Kerr said. "We were switching a lot of things but we weren't staying in front of them. They were attacking, they were making threes, but in the second half we turned up the defense and that guy Steph Curry was not bad.''
The Warriors, who shoot 80 percent from the line, missed eight free throws – though they made their last five in a row.
THE TAKE: On a five-game road trip against five inferior teams, it's not always easy to maintain a mental edge. That's the perfect time for a team leader to, well, lead the way. Curry did that in spades.
There will be nights when Curry is transcendent, when it seems even the most difficult shots find the bottom of the net. There will be nights when he finds another physical gear, when his competitive heart overshadows his baby face. There will be nights when Curry blocks a shot at the rim. He did all of that, which is why the Warriors were victorious in Miami for the third consecutive season.