It was far from easy, but the Golden State Warriors set a new NBA record Monday night.
Stephen Curry scored 41 points, Klay Thompson added 27 and Golden State won its 45th straight regular-season game at home with a 119-113 victory over the Orlando Magic. The previous record was held by the Chicago Bulls, who went undefeated in 44 regular-season contests at the United Center from March 30, 1995 to April 4, 1996.
“A remarkable job by our players over the last two years,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The consistency and the effort that it takes to do that is pretty amazing. There are so many games where the ball could bounce either way. We’ve definitely had some of those during this streak. Could have lost several times last season. Could have lost tonight very easily. But we keep putting ourselves in position to win games and dominate our home floor. I’m really proud of the guys for that.”
The Warriors have not lost at Oracle Arena during the regular season since losing to the Bulls in overtime on Jan. 27, 2015.
“It hasn’t been done in history,” Curry said. “So that’s a special accomplishment. It’s a credit to our coaching staff, the consistency that we’ve had and our players for bringing that winner mentality every night. Doesn’t mean every game is pretty, but you found a way to get it done.”
After a rare poor shooting performance in a Sunday afternoon loss to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers, the Splash Brothers returned with a vengeance as was expected. Curry and Thompson combined to shoot 25-of-49, including 12-of-24 from 3-point range. The pair shot just 1-of-18 from beyond the arc against the Lakers.
“It’s surprising if they go into a stretch of more than a couple of games where they don’t shoot well,” Kerr said. “They are too good, too confident. So this doesn’t surprise me at all.”
It turned out the Warriors needed every point from Curry and Thompson. Despite leading by double digits for a majority of the game and 94-77 at the start of the fourth quarter, Orlando used runs of 15-4 and 7-0 to get within two points with 1:13 left in the game.
Then magic happened for the Warriors on their possession. Shaun Livingston found a cutting Curry in the lane. Curry went up in the air, but was heavily defended and tried to drop the ball off to Green. Former Warrior C.J. Watson deflected the pass. The ball was loose and there was a small scramble. Thompson got to the ball first, took two dribbles to the right corner and nailed his fifth 3-pointer of the game.
Victor Oladipo tried to answer for the Magic, but lost the ball when he drove into Andrew Bogut. Curry picked up the loose ball, sped down the court and finished with a left-handed layup to put the Warriors ahead by seven. Dub Nation can finally exhale and start the celebration.
Curry also made history by becoming the first player to make 300 3-pointers in a single season. The reigning MVP now has 1,492 career 3-pointers in just his 475th game. Curry, 27, is more than halfway to Allen’s record of 2,973 made treys.
Golden State improved to 56-6 on the season. With San Antonio losing earlier to the Indiana Pacers, the Warriors are 3.5 games ahead of the Spurs for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Andre Iguodala missed his second consecutive game with a left hamstring tightness. Brandon Rush and Leandro Barbosa were the first ones off the bench. Rush and Barbosa finished with 11 and nine points, respectively. Draymond Green battled strep throat, received an IV before the game and finished with nine rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks in 34:49. Curry added 13 rebounds.
Evan Fournier, Brandon Jennings and San Jose-native Aaron Gordon scored 20 points apiece to lead Orlando (27-35). Oladipo finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Gordon tied a career-high with 16 rebounds.
Golden State made history despite tying a season-high with 24 turnovers, which led to 23 Orlando points. Turnovers are going to happen, but Kerr mentioned at least 10 of them were just inexcusable. The Warriors have committed 44 turnovers in the past two games. Kerr wants his team to go back to basics.
“What we have to get back to is simple, simple, simple and that’s good enough,” Kerr said. “The simple leads to the spectacular. You can’t try the spectacular without doing the simple first. And I think our guys sometimes start trying for all these spectacular plays when we just have to make the easy one. If we don’t get that cleaned up, then we’re in big trouble. So that’s a major goal for us going forward.”
The Warriors remain one game ahead of the pace set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls when they went 72-10 to finish with the best regular-season record in history.