Wednesday night's 109-105 Knicks victory over the Golden State Warriors aside, it was Golden State's Stephen Curry who riveted Madison Square Garden's attention, providing a lesson in the physics of the perfect parabola with his long-range jump shooting. Flawless arches, launched from his hands, through considerable space, to the bottom of the net.
Curry, the fourth-year pro from Davidson, scored a career-high 54 points, converting 18 of 28 field-goal attempts -- including a startling 11-for-13 from beyond the three-point arc. Sublime rainbows. And those were only the most obvious aspect to Curry's game, which showed all the colors to the Knicks, lacking no imagination whatsoever. Deft passing, whirligig circumnavigation of defenders, soft floating layups.
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"He put on a clinic. Knocked down shots, made plays, carried us. Led us in rebounding. He did it all," said Golden State coach Mark Jackson, who spent 11 years playing the Garden for St. John's and the Knicks. "I've seen a lot of great performances in this building, but this goes up there. That shooting performance was a thing of beauty."
"To the viewing audience, that's getting hot," Jackson said. "To us, that's Steph Curry. That's who he is. He's a knockdown shooter as good as anybody who's played."
Curry was performing triple bypass surgery on the Knicks from beyond the three-point line and giving them whiplash with his darting crossover dribbles. Only his height -- 6-3 -- was not outsized. He played all 48 minutes, had team highs in rebounds (six) and assists (seven), and wasn't stopped until 1:28 to play, when Raymond Felton blocked his attempted shot with the score tied at 105.
"I felt good all night," Curry said. "A lot of energy in that arena, for both teams. Once I started to get some numbers, you could hear the crowd a little bit. It was electric. So I was kind of running off adrenaline down the stretch.
"When I get good looks and see the ball go in a couple of times, I was going to take it, no matter where I was on the floor."
He compared the sustained excellence to a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, and sensed his numbers were big because "my teammates were jiving."
Golden State played without David Lee, suspended for his shoving match against Indiana Tuesday night, when Curry scored a mere 38 points, shooting 14-for-20. Wednesday night the Warriors needed every one of Curry's points "to have a chance," Jackson said.