Warriors legends marvel at Stephen Curry's performance against Knicks
Barry says the guard should get 20 shots a game for Golden State to succeed
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:49 p.m.
Warriors legend Rick Barry didn't watch Stephen Curry go for 54 points at Madison Square Garden. But the highlights were enough to earn a tip of the cap from one of the 50 greatest players of all time.
“Any time you can score 54 points, it's pretty impressive,” Barry said in a phone interview. “He did it a lot of different ways — going to the basket, floaters, 3s, creating his own shot, coming down in transition and pulling up. He shot the hell out of the ball.”
Curry drew the highest praise from former Warrior and New York basketball legend Chris Mullin, as well as high-scoring Purvis Short. Short appears frequently on the list of Golden State scoring records.
Curry snatched the attention of the basketball world, even though the Warriors lost 109-105 to the host Knicks on Tuesday. Curry was 18 of 28 shooting and only missed two of his 13 attempts from 3-point range.
He torched the Knicks despite the best of defensive plans.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said the plan was to double-team Curry when he entered pick-and-rolls, but his ability to squeeze off long-range shots even when his defender is in decent position repeatedly undid those plans.
Woodson said trapping Curry “was the plan from the very beginning.”
But Woodson also conceded that “it somewhat backfired; he beat all that.”
Barry, who scored 58 at the Garden on Dec. 14, 1965, said he liked how Curry mixed it up. But he also liked how he set up his teammates when the defense called for it.
The Hall of Famer said he knew Curry had that kind of game. He said he hopes the performance reveals to Curry the kind of player he can be when he is aggressive.
“That's the way he needs to play all the time,” Barry said. “You've got to play with that aggressive mentality. As unselfish as he is, and with the vision he has, it opens up so much more when he plays that way. The entire team benefits when he plays that aggressively. I don't know how Mark (Jackson) feels, but I'd be mad if he doesn't take 20 shots per game.”
Here's a look at how Mullin and Short experienced Curry's performance.
Hall of Famer Mullin, now an analyst for ESPN, has been saying Curry is the best shooter in the NBA.
So Curry's performance was validation.
“When's he's open, I always feel like the ball is going in,” Mullin said. “He's got that gift.”
Mullin, a New York native, has his No. 17 jersey retired at Oracle Arena largely because he's one of the game's greatest shooters. He said he didn't see the game, but he was blown away by the sheer numbers.
Curry only needed 28 shots to get 54 points. He knocked down 11 of his 13 3-pointers.
Mullin was more impressed by that than the fact it happened at basketball's mecca.
“Everything in New York will be a little bit bigger, so it adds to it,” Mullin said. “But to me, if you look at those numbers, I don't care where he does that. If he did it in Timbuktu, it's unbelievable. An incredible shooting exhibition for any generation, any time, anywhere.”
Mullin said he wasn't shocked that Curry pulled off such a feat. But he was “pleasantly” surprised.
He said just looking at Curry, a 6-foot-3 point guard, doesn't have the stature that suggests he can carry a team by hi.mself. But that's exactly what Curry did, albeit it in a 109-105 loss, which Mullin said is a testament to Curry's skill, cleverness and conditioning.
Mullin, whose career-high is 47, said he remembers being in a zone in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers. On May 8, 1991, Mullin was 16 of 21 shooting, making all four of his 3s, and had 41 in a win on the road.
“That's why you put in extra time, to be ready for those moments,” Mullin said. “Those nights don't happen a lot. Some guys don't get that opportunity. To me, that's what it's all about — putting in the work so you can be ready. And he really took advantage.”
Curry's 54 were the most points by a Warrior since Short scored 59.
Mr. Short, your thoughts?
“I thought it was a magnificent performance,” Short said in a phone interview. “I think every player dreams of playing in New York and having your best game ever. He had everything clicking.”
Short is one of the greatest scorers in Warriors history. He scored 59 points and 57 points with Golden State, both in 1984. Known for his high-arching “rainbow” jumper, he said if you teach someone how to shoot, you want them to look at Curry's form and technique.
Short, the director of player programs for the NBA Players Association, said he's caught several Warriors games this season. So he is not too surprised to see a breakout performance by Curry. Still, Short was amazed Curry scored 54 with just seven free throws and knocked down 11 of 13 from 3-point range.
“That's unbelievable,” Short said. “That's why he is who he is. He's a tremendous shooter. Excellent techniques. With the way he can put the ball in the basket, it's tremendous. As a shooter, those are the games you work hard for. Those are the games you dream about, where everything falls into place and you're in control of the game.”
Curry's hot night almost made Short want to hit the court and put up some shots. Almost.
“I'd like to be able to lie to you and say, yeah,” Short said. “But at this stage of my career, it's more of a dream.”
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