Every one of Stephen Curry’s shots drew a buzz of anticipation and many of them ended up eliciting sounds of surprise.
The NBA’s leading scorer and reigning MVP was way off in his only trip to Madison Square Garden this season. But the champion Warriors are more than a one-man show. Curry got plenty of help and Carmelo Anthony didn’t get enough.
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Even with Curry stumbling through a 5-for-17 performance, the Warriors crushed the Knicks, 116-95, on Sunday night.FacebookLike Newsday Sports on Facebook
The other “Splash Brother,” All-Star backcourt mate Klay Thompson, scored 34 points, and All-Star forward Draymond Green had a triple-double to lead Golden State to its 44th win in 48 games. The Warriors are chasing history and are one game ahead of the 1995-96 Bulls, who went an NBA-record 72-10.
“They’re a championship-level team,” Kristaps Porzingis said. “They started hitting their shots. They were hard to stop.”
Curry had only 13 points, nearly 17 under his league-high average. He also suffered a big cut on his forehead after Anthony put his hand on Curry’s head to try to slow him down on the perimeter.
Thompson was 14-for-18 from the field. Green shot even better — he was 9-for-9 — and finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. His ninth triple-double of the season tied a franchise record.
“Even when doesn’t shoot it well, the attention that he draws creates opportunities for other guys,” Derek Fisher said. “They play a balanced game. So even if one guy’s down, they have other guys who step up.”
The Knicks (23-27) didn’t have that and lost for the fifth time in six games. They actually led 27-20 early in the second quarter but were outscored 96-68 in the final 33:17.
Anthony had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Porzingis added 14 points but played only 21 minutes. He was in foul trouble in the first half and had trouble staying with Green, who blew by a flat-footed Porzingis for an uncontested dunk.
Arron Afflalo shot 2-for-12 and had five points. “I didn’t have it tonight for whatever reason,” he said. “It’s unacceptable.”
Anthony acknowledged that he needed help, especially against this team.
“You just never know where it’s coming from,” he said. “We’ve been successful with not knowing where our second scorer was going to come from, and some games third or fourth scorer. But tonight we just couldn’t find it — for whatever reason, we couldn’t find it.’’
The Warriors had their lowest-scoring quarter of the season (18 points in the first) and their best-shooting quarter (82.4 percent in the second). But the Knicks hung with them and trailed only 55-49 at the half after Derrick Williams’ three-pointer at the buzzer.
In the third quarter, however, the Knicks looked overmatched and ultimately deflated and defeated. The six-point deficit quickly became double-digits and grew to 82-65 after three.
“We hit a rough patch in the third quarter,” Anthony said. “You try so hard to try to stop one guy and another gets going. When they’re shooting the ball the way they did in that second half, it’s tough to stop one thing or one person out there.”
The Warriors went ahead 89-67 when Andre Iguodala, last year’s Finals MVP, hit a three-pointer 1:17 into the fourth. The Knicks answered with a 12-3 run to close to 92-79 with 7:19 left. Thompson then scored inside, and after Anthony’s back-to-the-basket, over-the-shoulder shot missed badly, Curry fed Leandro Barbosa for a three-pointer that made it 97-79 with 7:24 to go. The Warriors just kept rolling.
“They went to another level of intensity and activity on the defensive end,” Fisher said. “They went to more of a level they’re capable of in the third quarter and got separation.”
The Knicks needed more than Anthony to close the gap and didn’t get it.