Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry dropped 37 points in a 114-106 win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, delivering a scoring performance that has become commonplace in a career defined by big nights. But this particular performance was even more impressive given that it came just days after being a last-minute scratch in Saturday’s 102-100 loss to the Charlotte Hornets as Curry battled an illness that left him “disoriented” and out of sorts.
“Steph was tremendous,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “Just amazing. He was moving beautifully, obviously there were no ill effects from his illness the other night. Moving really well right from the start. New York is a great defensive team. They’re big and physical, so they make it tough, but Steph found a way to score. It was not easy, but he found a way and hit some huge shots and created a lot of offense for us.”
Curry, who went 7-for-14 from beyond the arc in 37 minutes, went into a little more detail as to why he missed Saturday’s game. It was a game the Charlotte native had been looking forward to all season.
“I was trying to give myself a chance to play up until the last second,” Curry said. “I was just disoriented, and the room was spinning a little bit, so at the end of the day it wasn’t smart to go out there and put myself in jeopardy of doing some more harm. We were communicating all pregame, making sure I was thinking straight about the decision to play. That was a tough call, but the right one.”
Aside from Curry’s return to the lineup, the Warriors also got a big lift from big men James Wiseman and Kevon Looney, both of whom returned to the floor after missing time because of respective injuries. Wiseman, the 19-year-old rookie center who has been out since injuring his left wrist on Jan. 30, scored 14 points in 16 minutes against the Knicks, providing a jolt of energy down low that had been missing from the lineup.
“James was great,” Kerr said. “It was really fun to watch him play out there. It was so great to have him back. He brings a lot of energy to the floor, obviously he’s immensely talented. And so to have him out there to really impact the game, and at the same time learn, he’s getting a lot thrown at him … everything’s moving pretty fast for him, but he is just an incredible athlete and an incredible young, mature guy. He’s going to have such a great career. It was so fun to see him out there, and we’re just trying to bring him along at the right pace to help him develop, to make sure he’s learning properly as well.”
Wiseman came to the postgame podium with a big ice pack on his wrist but said his wrist was feeling “great,” after returning for the first time in almost a month. Veteran Looney, who hadn’t played since turning his left ankle on Feb. 2, also contributed to the win with two points, six rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes. Looney said his conditioning felt “good,” and Kerr was pleased to see his trusted veteran come in and make an impact.
“Loon just ties things together,” Kerr said. “There are certain guys who just sort of fit with any lineup. … You just put him in, and he makes the right play over and over again. So while his contributions may not show up in the box score, it just makes the game easier for everybody else.”
Speaking of making things easier, Warriors swingman Kelly Oubre Jr., who made several big plays on both ends of the floor while scoring 19 points of his own, explained the difference that Curry’s presence on the floor creates for everybody else.
“It’s night and day, man,” Oubre said. “That’s the best shooter in the history of the game. That’s my opinion, but I feel like if you look at the numbers, if you look at the facts and the stats, everything, it adds up to him being the best shooter in the history of the game. The energy that he brings and the force that he brings when he comes off screens, especially late in games when teams have to just play and switch, it’s a lot of slips, it’s a lot of opportunities for everybody else to find their spots. So I think that’s just a blessing to be able to play with, man.”
For his part, Curry was just happy to have fans at Madison Square Garden to listen to after several months of playing in mostly empty arenas. Tuesday marked the first game the Knicks were allowed to have fans inside the famous arena.
“It was awesome,” Curry said. “I don’t know how many fans there were, but you could definitely feel a different energy in there. There were some fans heckling, which was awesome. Me and Draymond were talking about it. There’s no better feeling — I don’t care if it’s 19,000 or 2,500 or whatever it is, you love silencing a road crowd. So that is a cool experience considering not many arenas have had fans this year. It does make a huge difference, so we love playing in front of the fans that bring energy like that, especially here.”
After missing Saturday’s game, Curry was glad to be able to help his team across the finish line Tuesday night.
“It was hopefully just kind of a fluke instance where it just wasn’t right, [for] a lot of different reasons,” Curry said. “It was the right thing to do. The last two days just kind of get my bearings back. Thankfully I had time to practice yesterday, which gave me a little bit of confidence to come into today and get back to playing at a high level. It sucked missing the game, and especially in that fashion where I thought I could go and then in the last second just didn’t have it in me. A good bounce-back for us overall as a team, so it was nice to have Loon and Big Fella [Wiseman] back.”