While the rest of the Golden State Warriors got a breather and collected their thoughts back in the locker room at halftime, Stephen Curry stayed out on the court. See, the Charlotte Hornets honored franchise legend/color commentator Dell Curry on Wednesday night:
Steph is on the court for the halftime Dell Curry night ceremony. pic.twitter.com/DnVE4tgPXK
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) December 3, 2015
... and Steph joined his family on the court in celebrating his old man's career in front of his hometown crowd. Evidently, the ceremony inspired the younger Curry, who came out of intermission and promptly incinerated his hosts, doing that beautiful evil that only he can en route to a 28-point third quarter:
Curry made 10 of his 11 shots in the quarter, including all five of his 3-point tries, and went 3-for-3 at the line. He outscored the Hornets by himself, 28-21, in the third, tying the career-high for points in a single frame that he set on Halloween night against the New Orleans Pelicans. It was his fifth 20-point quarter of the season; nobody else has more than one.
Despite a strong start to the quarter by Steph, Steve Clifford's Hornets were still hanging around late, trailing by 13 with two minutes left. That's when Curry took it upon himself to end the evening early, scoring 14 points in the final 1:53 of the frame, capped by a wouldn't-believe-it-if-it-was-anyone-else pull-up 30-foot bomb with three seconds left to put Golden State up 21 and give Steph an even 40 after three quarters.
It got so nuts that Curry — who, yes, was raised in Charlotte and stayed in-state to go to college at Davidson, but still plays for the visiting team — wound up receiving raucous applause from the Time Warner Cable Arena faithful:
... which might have led Steph to momentarily forget where he was:
Stephen Curry implores the crowd to get loud before realizing he's playing a road game. He had 28 of his 40 points in the third quarter.
— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) December 3, 2015
As has now become customary, Curry's services were not required in the fourth. He finished with 40 points on 14-for-18 shooting (8-for-11 from 3-point land) to go with five assists and three rebounds in just under 31 minutes of play through three quarters, leading the Warriors to a 116-99 win over the Hornets to extend Golden State's record-setting season-opening unbeaten streak to 20 games, equalling a mark that had gone unmatched in major American sports for more than a century:
Warriors, now 20-0, have tied baseball's St. Louis Maroons (1884) of the Union Association for best start across the 4 major sports leagues.
— GSWStats (@gswstats) December 3, 2015
The Warriors have now won 24 consecutive regular-season games stretching back to last year. Three more victories, and they'll tie the 2012-13 Miami Heat for the second-longest undefeated run in NBA history; nine more, and they'll match the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' all-time mark of 33 in a row. They'll get two days off before heading north of the border to visit the Toronto Raptors, who gave the defending champs one of their sternest tests of the season a couple of weeks back, at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night. (Might want to break out the "Hotline Bling" booth again, Raps. I know it's a different song, but still, y'know, "Steph Curry with the shot" and all that.)
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Early on, it looked like Curry's running buddy, Splash Brother Klay Thompson, might be the one earmarked for a special night. The shooting guard made his first three shots to score seven points in the game's first 100 seconds on his way to 15 points in just under nine minutes of burn to stake the Warriors to a 32-23 lead after the first quarter. Thompson would cool, finishing with 21 points on 8-for-18 shooting (4-for-10 from 3) and 3 rebounds in 29 minutes, but once Curry got warmed up, that scarcely mattered.
Charlotte battled to stay within hailing distance, but they could never get over the hump. The Hornets' last lead was 9-7, less than two minutes into the game, and they didn't get within two possessions of the Dubs for the final 43 minutes and 22 seconds of game time. Nicolas Batum led four Hornets in double figures with 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in 30 minutes, as Charlotte fell to 10-8.
It's becoming hard to think of new things to say about what Stephen Curry's doing right now, so let's just list some fun facts. He's averaging a league-leading 32 points in just 34.3 minutes per game, and continues to reside comfortably within the confines of the 50/40/90 club (52.4 percent from the field, 45.9 percent from 3-point range on 11.1 attempts per game, 94.3 percent from the free-throw line). He's scoring more than ever, more efficiently than ever:
Curry's 640 points in 685 minutes have come on a mere 403 shots.
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) December 3, 2015
... and he seems to be getting better at it by the day:
Stephen Curry's 18 FG attempts are the fewest he's needed in any of his 15 career 40-point games.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 3, 2015
After turning in nine 40-point games in 415 games before this season, Curry's got an NBA-high six in 20 appearances this season, which is something that nobody's been able to say in the last three decades but the Hornets' owner:
Curry has six games with at least 40 points in the first 20 games. No NBA player has done that since Michael Jordan in 1986.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) December 3, 2015
Curry's league-high six 40-point outings are one more than Houston Rockets star James Harden has managed this season. But while the bearded one's logged at least 40 minutes in each of his 40-pointers, Curry's played 38 or fewer in all of his, thanks in part to the continuing capacity to get his light work finished early:
Curry has 4 games this season with 40 points through 3 quarters. Last player to do so in a season? Kobe Bryant (5) in 2006-07 (@EliasSports)
— GSWStats (@gswstats) December 3, 2015
Curry's eight triples against Charlotte give him 102 on the season. In 20 games. That's the fastest anyone's ever hit the century mark in a season, and by a hell of a long way:
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 3, 2015
There have been a great many incredible players in the NBA who have produced all manner of tremendous offensive performances, highlight-reel plays and extended stretches of brilliance. None of them have ever created anything like this. I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating: he is the most terrifying player in the NBA, its single most exhilarating watch and, remarkably, in a league replete with gigantic individuals possessed of stunning combinations of size and athleticism, its most fundamentally inimitable and irreplaceable entity.
We've never seen anything like Stephen Curry and, with each win that piles up, it's becoming increasingly evident that we haven't seen very much like his Golden State Warriors. It almost feels cruel that we'll have to wait until Saturday night to see them again.
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