The Magic Kingdom beckoned Steph Curry on Thursday. What followed was, of course, utterly predictable.
Curry put on a magic show in Orlando, in the shadow of Disney World.
The reigning MVP thrilled the sellout crowd at Amway Center with tricks never before seen on a basketball court. He put the Warriors on his relatively narrow shoulders and lifted them to a 130-114 victory over the Magic.
“It was an amazing performance,” Klay Thompson said of his teammate. “He carried us tonight and we are witnessing greatness.”
Curry in the first quarter became the first man in NBA history to make a 3-pointer in 128 games in a row. He banked in a circus trey from half-court (44 feet away) to end a third quarter during which he scored 24 points. His eyes, by the way, were open.
Curry put on a show that happened to include 51 points, on 27 shots, in 34 minutes. He is the first player, according to the stat specialists at Elias Sports Bureau, to post a game with at least 50 points with fewer than two free throws.
“He tricked us so many times,” Magic coach Scott Skiles said of Curry. “He runs. He stops. He relaxes. He stands up. He causes you to relax. You don’t have discipline, and he’s gone. That happened at least a dozen times. I’ll probably see almost 20 times when I look at the tape.”
With the Warriors showing signs of fatigue, Curry dug down to summon a complete game, adding a team-high seven rebounds and a game-high-tying eight assists. The circus shot at the end of the third quarter? That’s part of the show.
“A 3-point shot is like a layup,” Kerr marveled. “A half-court shot is like a three point shot. It’s what he does.”
Said Marreese Speights of Curry: “He is a superstar who is a humble guy and that is what makes him even a better player. He tries to get everybody else involved and can still has 50. He is a great teammate and I love playing with him.”
Curry mesmerized the crowd and, at times, players on both teams. His 15-point first quarter helped keep the Warriors afloat, and his 24-point third quarter spurred them to triumph.
“The guys were tired,” coach Steve Kerr said. “There was no enthusiasm. We usually play with great joy. There wasn’t a whole lot of joy out there tonight for whatever reason.
“So, when Steph gets going like that, it does light a fire. And you saw by the end of the game, the bench was jumping around again. We finally found our enthusiasm.”
Curry’s 20-of-27 shooting, including 10-of-15 from 3-point distance, essentially drove the Magic out of their gym. They thought they had answers, thought they could see what was behind his curtain, but never could solve him.
“He had 51; he did what he wanted to do,” said Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who was among the defenders given the futile task of containing Curry. “Whatever we wanted to do to him didn’t work.”
Though Curry had a supporting cast, notably 14 points from Marreese Speights in 12 minutes off the bench, this was a Curry night. He shook off whatever exhaustion he may have felt after scoring 42 points Wednesday night in Miami to produce down the street from Disney World.
He now own the longest streak of games with at least one 3-pointer, 128, snapping a tie with Atlanta guard Kyle Korver. Curry has made 276 3-pointers this season, more than anybody not named Steph Curry has made in a full season.
All of which results in rave reviews at his feet.
Is he the best shooter ever? Is he the most electrifying player in NBA history? Has there been a better combination of effective basketball and marvelous showmanship?
“I don’t get into who is the greatest shooter of all-time . . . because I have a lot of work to do,” Curry said. “And the longevity factor to it. So the record that Kyle set, to have that level of consistency . . . last year I didn’t think it was possible because there are so many variables that go into it. “
Anything is possible when you’re an ongoing phenomenon, playing H-O-R-S-E in the middle of NBA games and dancing to a rhythm only he hears. Each game is an opportunity for Curry to make a point.
Which is, in short, the NBA is his world. Everybody else is living in it.