The smallest player on the court received the kind of treatment from the Madison Square Garden crowd that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James usually hear, and it was deserved. Stephen Curry put on a shooting show that had the place buzzing.
The 6-3 Curry scored a career-high 54 points, an NBA high this season, but the Knicks stopped him when it mattered most and pulled out a thrilling 109-105 victory over the Warriors Wednesday night.
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Raymond Felton, who was on the receiving end of most of Curry's makes, stuffed Curry's jumper attempt with 1:28 left and the score tied at 105. It led to a tough jump shot by J.R. Smith with 1:10 to go and a lead the Knicks wouldn't relinquish as they forced turnovers on Golden State's next two possessions.
"My main thing is to keep playing," Felton said. "Once a guy gets it going like that, there's nothing I can really do. I've got to stay in mind-set, still play my game, and I was still able to come up with some big plays at the end. We all came up with some big plays to get that win."
Curry had a dizzying performance. He shot 18-for-28 from the field, making 11 of 13 threes, and played all 48 minutes.
He was hitting pull-ups, quick releases and shots coming around screens. Curry finished seven points shy of Bryant's Garden record of 61 and scored the most here since James had 52. Both happened in 2009.
"I had confidence to rise up and take it no matter where I was on the floor," Curry said.
The Knicks were in awe after Curry lit them up, almost singlehandedly erasing a 14-point deficit with 23 second-quarter points.
"He hit a couple of shots that I don't think he looked at the rim," said Tyson Chandler, who grabbed a career-best 28 rebounds.
"Me and Tyson had one play where we both were in his face, jumped at the ball, there's no way this kid seen the basket and he hit nothing but net," Felton said.
The Knicks (34-20) swarmed Curry, trapped him and forced him to give up the ball some in the second half. But when he did, he found his teammates for open looks. Curry finished with seven assists, and scored or set up the Warriors' final 20 points. But the Knicks held Golden State scoreless over the last 2:04.
"We made the defensive stops that we had to make coming down the stretch run," Mike Woodson said. "We made plays, but boy, you got to tip your hat. Curry was pretty good."
His eye-popping night made Carmelo Anthony's 35-point performance seem pedestrian. Anthony, who didn't attend the morning shootaround because of a stomach virus, was 10-for-26 from the field. He hit a turnaround jumper with 45.6 seconds left to put the Knicks up four and close out the scoring.
Felton then came up with a steal in the backcourt and was fouled with 34.3 seconds left. He missed both free throws, but Klay Thompson misfired on two three-point attempts on the other end.
Smith had a huge game off the bench with 26 points and shot 6-of-11 from three.
The Knicks caught a break just hours before the game when the NBA suspended All-Star forward David Lee one game for the former Knick's involvement in Tuesday's altercation with Pacers center Roy Hibbert. But it almost didn't matter because of Curry.
The Knicks led 98-93 after Amar'e Stoudemire slammed down an Anthony feed with 6:32 left. But Curry assisted on the Warriors' next two baskets and drilled a pull-up three in transition to give Golden State a 100-99 lead with 4:41 remaining.
After a Smith three on the next trip, Curry buried a three off an out-of-bounds play with 3:42 left. Anthony made a three to put the Knicks ahead 105-103, and Curry tied it with two foul shots with 2:05 left.
The Knicks sniffed out the Warriors' next play, expecting an isolation, and Felton made the stand they needed and blocked Curry's shot.
"It felt good because it was down the stretch when we really needed it," Felton said. "If he hits that shot, maybe the game is different."