Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry put up 53 inspired points in a win over the Denver Nuggets Monday Night at Chase Center in San Francisco, in the process surpassing NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
Curry entered the contest Monday riding the hottest streak of his career, scoring more than 30 points in his last six consecutive games. The two-time MVP came out firing in full Benihana-onion-volcano-mode, turning up the heat and cooking up any white jersey in his range from the moment he first touched the rock.
With just under two minutes left in the first quarter, Curry took two Denver defenders to the rack for a contested lay-in, his 16th and 17th points of the quarter, and the new record for most points scored by any player in Warriors franchise history.
Curry was aware of the moment, flexing his bicep before raising his arms and blowing a kiss to the sky. Wilt Chamberlain had held the Warriors record with 17,783 points for over 50 years.
“To be anywhere near him in any record book or now be on top, it’s surreal and it’s wild," Curry said in his postgame Zoom. "If you grow up in the game of basketball and you hear his name, you know it’s something extremely special, no matter what it is.”
Curry would finish the quarter with 19 points on his way to 53 for the game, shooting an impressive 10-for-18 from long range and 15-for-16 from the charity stripe across 36 minutes.
Despite the early onslaught from Steph, the Nuggets were able to keep this game close even as the Warriors started to pull away toward the end of the third quarter. However, Curry would re-enter the game halfway through the fourth to knock down five crunch-time free throws and thwart any potential Denver comeback.
Draymond Green contributed a season-high 18 points to go along with seven boards and seven assists, with Andrew Wiggins chipping in 17 of his own in a staggering 41 minutes.
The Warriors were without James Wiseman, who is most likely out for the remainder of the season due to a torn meniscus in his right knee, as well as Kelly Oubre Jr., who missed his second straight game with a left wrist injury.
In recent weeks, the Warriors have fallen to 26-28 and 10th in the West, which almost embitters last night’s victory when you realize this Warriors roster still has the quality, even without Klay Thompson, Marquese Chriss, Wiseman, and Oubre, to beat a fourth-seed Denver opponent that’s eight games ahead of them in the standings, and one which gave them a hard, honest fight.
Much of the blame in recent weeks for the Warriors underachieving status so far this season has been laid at the feet of Steve Kerr. No one expected the Warriors to win a title this year, but expectations were certainly higher than the reality of the team’s position currently.
While Dubs Twitter is known for being particularly harsh, most likely due to the influx of bandwagon fans brought on in recent years by the Warriors outright dominance over the league and three trophies to show for it, the media too has seemed to turn on Kerr, questioning his decisions on lineups, rotations, and play-calling.
Looking at some of the other rosters of teams ahead of the Warriors in the standings begs the question, how much have the Warriors underperformed this season? And where should the blame lie?
Even with a memorable win last night, marked by an entertaining Chef-Curry 50-piece and the rewriting of important Warriors history, it was unable to fully obscure Steve Kerr and the team’s failures and shortcomings to this point in the season, as the Nuggets almost crept back to hand Golden State an L.
It’s understandable, to some extent, listening to players on the team look backwards in time and reminisce on the past on a night when history was center stage and a momentous record was broken. Yet it almost felt somewhat deranged to hear the Warriors speaking of championships and greatness when their season up to this point has been marked by anything but.
The Warriors are still confident — and will keep telling you so — that they are close to going on a run. The fact of the matter is, Kerr has been staunch all season that this team just needs to be ready when the time comes to make a real push. With their backs fully against the wall, and the roster they still have, it’s not inconceivable for die-hard Dubs fans to still believe there’s a chance this team can make an interesting if not deeper run into the playoffs than is currently expected. However, fans and analysts alike who have come to terms with what they’ve seen all year will do no such thing.
The Warriors take on the Oklahoma City Thunder this Wednesday night at 6PM PST.
Top Image: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images