The backdrop fitting and the moment appropriate, Steph Curry played it exactly right, taking full advantage of the circumstances to write another memorable chapter of his NBA career.
Curry began Wednesday evening in Charlotte as the local homeboy, the Davidson College product. He spent the first half of the Warriors-Hornets game as the good son, joining the Curry family as his father, Dell, was honored in a halftime ceremony.
Good deeds done, family obligations met, Curry came out in the third quarter and put on a mesmerizing show, taking compete control of the game and leading the Warriors to a 116-99 victory over the Hornets.
“Steph was incredible,” interim coach Luke Walton told reporters at Time Warner Cable Arena. “To do it in his hometown like this, 40 points in only three quarters . . . that’s why he’s the MVP of the league.”
Curry scored 12 points in the first half, basically providing support for fellow guard Klay Thompson, who lit up Charlotte for 15 points in the first quarter. Thompson, who finished with 21 points, softened up the Hornets.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Curry scores 40 in Warriors' 20th win]
“The way that Klay started, getting us going, was huge,” Curry said. “Draymond (Green) impacting the game the way he does every night, we kind of fed off that in the beginning.
“And then the third quarter was just a nice little flurry.”
Flurry? Try an epic blizzard of offense. Curry scored 28 points in the quarter – including his team’s last 24, in a span of 7:26 – on 10-of-11 shooting, making all five of his 3-point shots. He tied his career-high for points in a quarter, a mark set 32 days ago.
“He’s doing an amazing job of picking his spots,” Walton said. “Obviously, when you’re in your hometown and you’re the best player in the league, you want to come out and put on a show. But Klay was hot early . . . Once they adjusted to the way they were guarding Klay, then Steph turned it on late in that first half.”
Curry’s performance – the fourth time this season he has scored 40 points while sitting out the fourth quarter – punctuated a special night before family and friends already familiar with his exploits from high school through three years at Davidson.
“When you get on a streak like that, that’s fun,” Curry said. “You don’t expect to make 6-of-6 (actually 5-of-5) in the third quarter. But the shots that I took are the ones that I practice, the ones that I’ve taken plenty of times. You expect to make them, even though some nights it’s off. I was just aggressive, trying to get to my spots, and have confidence when I rise up and shoot.”
All things considered, this may have been Curry’s finest (regular-season) hour as a Warrior.
“Every night you’ve got to keep watching, because you never know what Steph Curry is going to do,” center Festus Ezeli marveled. “Steph is going to Steph. It’s always special. He works on his craft, and when he gets out there on the court it’s kind of like a man possessed.”
Curry surely seemed determined to keep the Warriors perfect, as they’re the first team in NBA history to begin a season 20-0 – which ties the longest streak to start a season in any major American professional sport. The Warriors’ overall winning streak was increased to 24, third-longest in NBA history.
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Curry is the first player with six 40-point performances through 20 games in 29 years, since Michael Jordan accomplished the feat in 1986-87. The reigning MVP personally assured the Warriors of becoming the first team to score at least 100 points in each of its first 20 games since the 1990-91 Nuggets.
Since they plan to spend the next couple days in Charlotte before leaving Friday for Toronto, where they face the Raptors on Saturday afternoon, the Warriors can spend some time to savor their perfection.
Nobody has more to savor, though, than Curry, the kid who came back to his hometown a champion and showed everybody why.