March 6, 2013

ZAKOUR | Steph Breaks Out

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“They’ve tried everything and it doesn’t work.” That’s what Knicks announcer Walt Frazier said about Stephen Curry’s performance at Madison Square Garden last Wednesday. No matter what the Knicks defense threw at him, he handled it: passing out of double teams, burning Raymond Felton in one-on-one, or even scoring with little space out of double teams. Knicks center Tyson Chandler after the game remarked how Curry must have made some of his threes without even being able to see the basket.Every so often, you see a performance that is truly special. Stephen Curry delivered one February 27th against the New York Knicks, in a loss, no less. Stephen Curry delivered the most impressive performance in the NBA this year. Despite his Golden State Warriors coming up short 105-109, Curry exploded for 54 points and played 48 minutes, the whole game, despite playing the day before against the Pacers. The Warriors, much like Curry’s performance, are a surprise, as they are in the mix in the tough Western Conference while most thought they were a lottery team.Although, the Warriors ultimately fell short, needed this performance from their point guard. They had just lost on the road in Indiana and faced a quick turnaround in New York without key contributor and their second leading scorer David Lee, who was suspended for a game due to a fight. In Indiana, Curry had just dropped 38 points (including a few highlight reel crossovers) and 4 assists, again in a losing effort. (Interestingly enough, the Warriors have all of Curry’s 4 highest scoring games-perhaps its not a great sign for the rest of the team when Curry has to carry the load.)The game itself was one of the most entertaining games of the year so far. Knicks teammates Carmelo Anthony put up 35 points while Tyson Chandler had 28 rebounds, two short of another NBA season high. The Warriors fell behind 14 points early on, and came clawing back on the heroics of Curry. The Warriors grabbed a few small leads and even tied it late in the fourth, but it wouldn’t be enough. Possibly due to fatigue from playing 48 minutes, Curry faltered just enough the stretch, turning the ball over and having his shot blocked late in the fourth. On the Warriors final possession, down four, Curry passed the ball and his teammates missed two open three pointers to seal their fate.Watching the game, Curry’s greatness was especially obvious. The stats are worth repeating- 54 points on 64% shooting, making 11 three- pointers (one shy of tying an all time record), seven assists, six rebounds, and three steals. But more than that he was as close too as unstoppable as possible. Stephen Curry dominated the Knicks defense. His efficiency was incredibly impressive, as most of the shots Curry made were heavily contested. Curry was pulling up from five feet behind the arc and swishing it. Give him any room, he put it up and it was probably going in. The Knicks brought a double team to try and stop him, yet he would just pass to open teammate or simply create space. He only needed the smallest amount of room, and he was putting the ball in the hoop. Curry’s shooting motion is quick and smooth, it really does make one think he could a superstar in this league.Curry’s 54 points were most the scored points in the NBA this season, topping the likes of Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Kobe Bryant. Unlike those men, Curry did not even make the all-star team, or is he thought of as a volume shooter nor scorer. And despite his gaudy point total, he isn’t a volume shooter.  Curry only needed 28 shots to put in 54 points, following his 38-point night on 20 shots. Despite that, it seemed incredible unlikely he would score the most points in the NBA in game, as Curry only averages a little over 18 points a game in his career.Curry is shooting 46% from three and 90.6% from the free throw line. He is one of the best three point and free throw shooters in the NBA, and appears poised on the brink of true super stardom. Or maybe he’s not. Curry’s three games after this outburst have been mixed, his worst performance being his follow up in Boston where he was mostly shut down. But against Toronto, Curry showed off his skill set in handing out 12 assists and scoring an efficient 26 points in a win. Maybe this is the best we’ll ever see from Curry, but if it is, I will never forget the stretch when he was best player in the NBA for two games.

Original Author: John Zakour