Stephen Curry hasn't forgotten that magical game at the Garden last season
Stephen Curry had last set foot on the Madison Square Garden hardwood on Feb. 27, 2013, but the time away didn't diminish anyone's memories of his dazzling scoring spree that night.
The Golden State Warriors guard had gotten the Garden crowd buzzing with an impressive display of shooting against the Knicks, scoring 54 points and hitting 11 of 13 three-pointers while playing the entire game.
Curry -- who had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in only 30:18 Friday night and shot 5-for-11 from outside the arc-- said before the game that the energy from the crowd in the second half that night was something he hadn't forgotten.
"On every shot, they were collectively holding their breath," he said. "You could feel that on the court."
Knicks coach Mike Woodson remembered the buzz, too. He also recalled that his team came away with the victory that night, thanks in part to Raymond Felton's late block of a shot by Curry.
That's why Woodson didn't hesitate to mention Felton's name when asked before Friday night's game who was going to start out defending Curry.
But if Woodson learned anything from that game last year, it's that guarding Curry often is not a job for only one person.
"There were times we double-teamed him and he shot over the double-team and he made shots," Woodson said. "It was one of those games for him."
Thinking back to that night, Curry said he's never felt more confident shooting from beyond the three-point line than he did then. And that's saying something, considering how renowned his long-distance shot is around the league.
Entering Friday night's game, Curry's accuracy on threes was 41.6 percent this season, down from 45.3 percent last season and below his four-year career mark of 43.9 percent.
But that's about the only statistical drop from a year ago. He was averaging career highs in points (23.8) and assists (8.8) and is a big reason why the Warriors are in position to make the postseason for the second straight year.
"He's got the ability to pick and choose when to be an aggressive scorer and when to facilitate to get guys involved," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "He's a true point guard . . . He's an absolute winner."
Amar'e Stoudemire was not in uniform for the game because it was the Knicks' second game in as many nights and, according to Woodson, his left knee is bothering him again.
He also missed a game in New Orleans two weeks ago because of left knee soreness.
Stoudemire began the season on a minutes restriction after undergoing another surgical procedure on his knee during the offseason, but Woodson said Friday night that plan "was tough on everybody."
"It was tough on him and it was tough on us from a coaching standpoint not knowing when he was going to play and monitoring his minutes," Woodson said. "We were able to gradually grow his minutes."
Stoudemire is averaging 9.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game this season.
"Obviously, his knee is bothering him a little, so we have to be open-minded to that," Woodson said, "and play him when he's ready to play."