Steph's 54 not enough for Warriors in New York
Stephen Curry's previous career high before Wednesday night's 54-point performance was 42 points in Portland on the final day of the regular season in 2010. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
A historic performance from Stephen Curry in a historic building wasn’t enough as the Warriors fell short at Madison Square Garden, losing 109-105 to the Knicks.
Curry set a new NBA single-game high for the season with 54 points, topping the 52 Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant scored against Dallas on Jan. 18.
The way he got there was simply astounding.
Curry connected on 11-of-13 three-point attempts, setting a new franchise record for threes in a game and falling one shy of the NBA single-game record. He became the first player in NBA history to hit at least ten threes and score 50 points in a game, but didn’t realize just how prolific a pace he was on until late in the game.
“Not really until my teammates start jabbing at me,” Curry said. “They were in my ear treating it like a pitcher trying to throw a no-hitter -- not trying to touch my right hand and all that funny stuff.
“I knew I was it was a good night, but just didn’t know what that meant. I wasn’t trying to look at the scoreboard or anything because you don’t want to jinx yourself.”
For Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who played his college ball at Madison Square Garden while at St. John’s and spent parts of six seasons with the Knicks, watching Curry go off at the Garden brought back memories.
“I’ve seen a lot of great performances in this building, and his goes up there,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen a lot, but that shooting performance was a thing of beauty."
It was the most points in a game for a Warrior since Purvis Short had 59 against New Jersey in 1984.
However, it wasn’t enough.
Curry hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 105 with two minutes, four seconds left in the game, but the Warriors went cold down the stretch. They were 0-for-4 from the field in the final 3:42 and committed three turnovers during that time.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks (34-20) with 35 points – 13 of which came from the free-throw line – and Sixth Man of the Year candidate J.R. Smith had 26 points off the bench.
Golden State (33-25), playing without all-star forward David Lee due to a one-game suspension for his part in Tuesday’s fight with Indiana, struggled on the glass for stretches and continued to turn the ball over.
New York out rebounded the Warriors 46-38 and scored 22 points off 18 Golden State turnovers.
Early on, it looked like playing without Lee would be took much to overcome as the Knicks jumped out to a 25-11 lead with 1:37 left in the first quarter. Tyson Chandler had 13 of his career-high 28 rebounds in the quarter as Curry scored just four points.
After facing the 14-point deficit, the Warriors quickly got back in the game – largely in part to the play of Curry. He scored 15 points over the next 8:24 as the Warriors used a 29-12 run to take a 40-37 lead.
No one other than the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has had consecutive games with 38 points or more in the NBA this season.
Curry is no stranger to playing at the Mecca of Basketball. He first played in the Garden in his final year at Davidson, when he led the Wildcats to a 68-65 win against West Virginia with 27 points. In that game, Curry connected on just 4-of-16 three-point attempts and was 9-of-27 from the field.
“There’s a lot of energy in that arena for both teams,” he said. “When I made a couple shots, you could hear the crowd a little bit and obviously when they were knocking down dagger threes it was electric.”
Jackson said that with Lee out, the team needed a performance like Curry’s to have a chance to win. As a result, Curry played all 48 minutes.
“I was kind of running off adrenaline down the stretch – taking advantage of the TV timeouts,” Curry said. “They were a little longer than normal, but I didn’t really feel it too much down the stretch.”
No other starter had more than six points, while Carl Landry (15 points) and Jarrett Jack (14) scored in double figures off the bench.
Green makes first NBA start
With David Lee sidelined due to his one-game suspension, rookie Draymond Green made his first career start.
Green spent most of his 27 minutes assigned to the NBA second-leading scorer, Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 35 points.
At Michigan State, Green started 65 of 145 games in his four-year career.
#WarriorsTalk Tweet of the Game
Next up – Boston
The Warriors will look for a season sweep of Boston when it travels to TD Garden for a 4:30 p.m. PT game on Friday. Golden State has lost four straight and seven of nine in Boston. Its last win was a 96-95 final on Dec. 20, 2006.
In the first meeting between the two teams this year, Stephen Curry scored 22 points and Festus Ezeli had five blocks in a 101-83 win at Oracle Arena on Dec. 29.
Warriors executive chairman and CEO Joe Lacob was a minority owner in Boston for five years, including the 2007-8 season when the Celtics won the NBA title.