Warriors star Stephen Curry added a few more layers to his outstanding NBA career Saturday when he joined Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant as the only players in league history to score 60 points or more after their 35th birthday.
Bryant did it in the final game of his career when he put up 60 against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016.
Curry reached that plateau Saturday night when he drilled the Atlanta Hawks for an even 60 in the Warriors' 141-134 overtime loss at State Farm Arena. Half of those came on 3-pointers, marking the 24th time in Curry’s 15 professional seasons that he has connected from beyond the arc 10 times or more.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Curry also topped 200 3-pointers in one season for the 11th time, another NBA record.
But like so many other big nights he has enjoyed as a pro, Curry’s scorching effort against the Hawks ultimately went for naught, although he came very close to single-handedly willing the Warriors to a win.
Golden State didn’t provide Curry with enough support, especially after Jonathan Kuminga fouled out, then blew a late lead and lost in overtime, ending a meager two-game win streak.
Golden State Warriors
“What a performance,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game. “I just feel so bad for him and our guys, because they’re battling. Obviously we’re short-handed and [on back-to-back games]. I thought we really competed like crazy the whole game. Just couldn’t get over the hump. Steph was sublime.”
That was one word tossed around after Curry’s historic evening. Magnificent, amazing, awesome and mind-blowing were among others that quickly came to mind.
The one word that was most glaring and stood out the most, however, was wasted. For all that Curry did, the Warriors still lost. And at 21-25, they remain on the outside looking in at the NBA playoff picture in the Western Conference.
“You can describe it however you want. Any game that you have, like even way back when I had 54 in the Garden and we lost, that’s the only feeling you really worry about,” Curry told reporters. “Obviously it’s a fun ride when you’re shooting the ball the way that you are and trying to get to the finish line and have a W to show for it. It sucks to not have something to show for it, especially the way we fought, giving it everything we had in the tank.”
Not surprisingly, Curry found the negatives to his night rather than focusing on what he did. He scored 22 points in the fourth quarter but missed a potential game-winner toward the end of regulation that would have put the Warriors ahead in the final seconds.
“I think in that fourth quarter, we were very decisive on just trying to get me good looks, create some confusion. Thankfully a bunch of them went in,” Curry said. “I wish that last one would have went down.”
His teammates, however, wasted no time in praising the two-time NBA MVP.
“It’s crazy because you kind of grow accustomed to him having those types of games and types of nights,” Draymond Green told reporters. “He can get it going anytime. That’s just a testament to his hard work, the work that he puts in on his body on a daily basis, and it shows in these moments. Just seems like continues to get better, which is special at this age.”
First-round draft pick Brandin Podziemski, who has spent much of his rookie season being mentored and tutored by Curry, was equally impressed.
“He’s the best point guard ever to play the game,” Podziemski said. “To see him have 60 and be super efficient and not get the calls like other superstars in the league, it was impressive. You always want to come out with a victory in those situations because you only get to be around it for so long."
True, but as of yet Curry hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down.
He recently earned his 10th All-Star honors when he was named a reserve in the West on Thursday. His scoring average (27.4 points) is the fourth-highest mark of his career. Over his past eight games, the two-time NBA scoring champ is averaging more than 34 points.
Yet the Warriors failed to cash in on it. It’s the 13th time that Curry has put up 50 or more in a game. Golden State is just 8-5 in those games.
“It’s frustrating obviously not coming away with a win, knowing a couple plays here, a couple plays there, it’s a different outcome and we’re celebrating an individual performance like that,” Curry said. “But just adds to the frustration of our season.”
Curry was so good that the fans in Atlanta switched allegiances and began cheering for him late in the second half seemingly every time he scored.
That’s nothing new, either. Curry is a fan favorite not just in Dub Nation, but across the country and the entire NBA as well.
“It’s easy to find energy with that type of response and I never take any of that for granted, knowing the ball will stop bouncing at some point,” Curry said. “It’s definitely special, the ultimate gratitude every time I get to step foot on the floor.”
A few weeks ago, Curry was asked if he expected the Warriors to make a trade before the Feb. 8 deadline. In response, Curry basically said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
“The rest of that quote was, ‘It’s up to us players to perform, play at the level that we’re supposed to so those conversations and decisions are maybe a little easier,' ” Curry said. “Obviously I’m not a GM, I’m not in that position where I’m getting asked that every single day. My job is to go out there and perform.
“The closer you get to it, it’s the nature of the NBA, You can’t be naïve and act like calls aren’t being made. But for us as players in the locker room you have to be able to control what you can control. Until it’s said otherwise or decisions are made, it’s up to us to go out and perform and hold our ground as a team that’s a legitimate team that can win.”
As long as Curry is around and healthy, the Warriors always will have a chance to win. They just need to do better on nights when he goes off like he did against the Hawks.