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.”