Only a force like Stephen Curry can unite Washington.
Curry scored 51 points to lead Golden State Warriors to a 134-121 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. The reigning MVP scored 25 points in the opening quarter on 9-of-10 shooting, including 7-of-8 from 3-point range. Curry made his first six shots from the field, including five 3-pointers.
“We had a major emphasis on trying to start the game well knowing how explosive they are on the offensive end,” Curry said. “Didn’t know it would shape out like that. You make your first couple shots and get a lucky bounce on one. You start to build confidence and I was just in rhythm.”
“He got into a rhythm,” Wizards guard John Wall said. “He made some unbelievable shots, which we know he can shoot the ball very well. From time to time, he gets in one of those zones.”
For a town that argues on just about every imaginable issue, the fans couldn’t do anything other than leap out of their seats and cheer wildly after Curry splashed multiple 3-pointers in a row and when he drove in for a spectacular behind-the-back layup.
“It’s like Kobe (Bryant) when he had 81,” Wall said. ”He couldn’t miss. You keep defending the best way you can. We challenged some shots. He didn’t have too many open looks. He just made them.”
It looked as if the Warriors needed Curry to score 81 points in order to win their eighth straight and improve to 45-4 on the season. Despite trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter, Wall kept the Wizards close with his own shooting performance and play-making abilities.
Wall scored 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting and had seven assists to help Washington cut the deficit to just two with 7:48 left in the third quarter. But he picked up his fourth foul 90 seconds later and the whole complexion of the game changed. The Warriors took advantage of Walls’ absence by going on a 19-7 run, including a 10-0 spurt, in a span of 3:46 to go back up by double-digits.
Wall returned to open the fourth quarter and promptly cut the deficit to six with just under 10 minutes to play. But Shaun Livingston kept the Wizards at bay by scoring six points. Curry and Klay Thompson returned soon after and scored 13 points down the stretch to put the game away for good.
Curry was crazy efficient, going 16-of-24 from the field. He tied a career-high with 11 3-pointers on 16 shots. Curry made his last 3-pointer with 4:22 left in the game and knew he was close to tying the NBA record of 12 3-pointers. But the game had already been decided and he did not attempt any more 3-point shots. Warriors coach Steve Kerr did not know how close Curry had been and joked that it was his fault and he should have call more plays.
Thompson splashed six 3-pointers of his own and finished with 24 points. Draymond Green had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists for his league-leading 10th triple double of the season. He added five blocks. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Green is the first Warrior to record a point/rebound/assist triple-double with five blocks since blocks were recorded in 1973.
Wall finished with a season-high 41 points on 17-of-25 shooting and 10 assists. Bradley Beal had 18 points off the bench. Nene Hilario and Ramon Sessions finished with 12 points apiece. The Wizards dropped to 21-26 on the season and are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Golden State had 35 assists and now has dished out 30 or more assists in every game during this winning streak. But the Warriors also committed 18 turnovers, which led to 24 Washington points. Curry had seven himself, but none in the final 20 minutes.
“I had probably three of them that I shouldn’t have had,” Curry said. “Just a couple lazy, telegraphed passes. It happens, but it’s frustrating because when they happen, that’s when they got back in the game. You don’t want to give them any life with transition or easy fast-break opportunities where we can’t get our defense set and I was the culprit plenty of times on them.”
“It’s what I told the team after the game,” Kerr said. “We can win in the regular season, turning it over and making careless plays because we can score. Obviously, we scored at a good clip. But what won us a title last year was the combination of our offense and our defense. So our challenge through the rest of the regular season is to try to cut our turnovers back. It’s something we harp on constantly.”
Before the Warriors return home for a brief two-game homestand, which starts Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, they will head to the White House Thursday morning to be honored by President Barack Obama for their championship last season. According to Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area, former teammates David Lee and Justin Holiday will be joining in on the festivities.
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 45-4
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 44-5