Stephen Curry’s 54-point performance in NYC headlines wild night in NBA
Stephen Curry will steal headlines, but he was far from the only story in the NBA on Wednesday night.
On a night when the Warriors’ Curry erupted for 54 points in a loss to the Knicks, the Bucks’ Monta Ellis hit a crazy game-winner to sink the Rockets; the Suns surprised the Spurs in overtime; the Grizzlies rallied from 25 down to beat the Mavericks for their eighth straight victory; and a Wizards television announcer made an unforgettable blunder on a last-second shot. Here’s a roundup of a wild night around the league.
Stephen Curry drops 54 on Knicks
Curry scored 54 points in a 109-105 loss to the Knicks, setting the NBA’s season high for points. He eclipsed Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who scored 52 points in an overtime win over the Mavericks on Jan. 18.
The fourth-year guard shot 18-for-28 (64.3 percent) from the field, hit a franchise-record 11 three-pointers in 13 attempts and went 7-of-7 from the free-throw line. Curry outscored his teammates 54-51 and made as many shots as them combined. He added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in 48 minutes for the Warriors, who played without the suspended David Lee.
“Once I started seeing that 3-ball go down in transition, all sorts of spots on the floor, I knew it was going to be a good night,” Curry told reporters.
The Associated Press noted that Curry scored the most points in a losing effort since the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant had 58 in a loss to the Bobcats on Dec. 29, 2006. Curry’s explosion came one night after he scored 38 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the field and 7-of-10 from three-point range in a 108-97 loss to Indiana. He’s connected on 18-of-23 threes in his last two games.
Also of note from this game: Knicks center Tyson Chandler finished with 16 points and a career-high 28 rebounds.
Monta Ellis sinks Rockets
If not for Curry’s outburst, Ellis might have earned more of Wednesday’s spotlight for hitting a nutty game-winning three-pointer to complete his 27-point, 13-assist, six-steal night in Milwaukee’s 110-107 victory at Houston. On the game’s final possession, Ellis caught a pass from Brandon Jennings beyond the top of the key with one second left and fired a one-legged 27-footer that rolled around the rim and in.
“He makes those shots in practice and stuff, so it’s funny,” Bucks forward Larry Sanders told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of Ellis, who, for his part, said he didn’t want to go to overtime because “I was kind of winded” after playing 45 minutes.
The Bucks erased a 17-point first-quarter deficit and climbed out of a six-point hole in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter to deal a setback to the Rockets, who saw their lead over the Lakers for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference shrink to 2½ games. Houston also blew a 17-point lead in Saturday’s 105-103 loss at Washington.
Suns spoil Spurs’ return home
The NBA’s best home team played on its floor for the first time in 25 days and promptly lost to a 16-point underdog, thanks to some late-game heroics from a player averaging 3.5 points.
Wes Johnson made an improbable game-tying three-pointer to force overtime, and the Suns held the Spurs without a field goal in the extra period to pull off a 105-101 upset. Phoenix improved to 7-24 on the road and stopped San Antonio’s 18-game home winning streak, which began on Dec. 1. The Spurs, who were coming off a nine-game road trip that included four games after the All-Star break, fell to 22-3 at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio led 100-97 with 3.7 seconds left in regulation when Manu Ginobili missed the second of two free throws. The Suns’ Jermaine O’Neal rebounded and, without a timeout left to advance the ball, rifled a long pass to Johnson, who had managed to get free on the right wing. Johnson, who entered the game with 11 three-pointers in 38 attempts all season, nailed it at the buzzer to set up overtime. San Antonio shot 0-of-10 from the field in the five-minute OT.
“We kind of relaxed after such a long road trip,” Ginobili told the San Antonio Express-News. “And this is what happens in the NBA when you don’t play your best.”
Grizzlies rally to keep streak alive
The Grizzlies overcame a 25-point deficit to stun the Mavericks 90-84 and extend their winning streak to eight games.
Dallas outscored Memphis 38-19 in the first quarter and led 51-26 with 5:25 left in the second quarter. But the Grizzlies responded with a 36-4 run, including a stretch of 24 unanswered points, 20 of which came at the start of the third quarter. That mind-boggling run put Memphis ahead 62-55 with four minutes to play in the third quarter — a quarter in which the Mavericks scored five points.
The rally matched the Grizzlies’ largest in franchise history. The team also came back from 25 points down to win in Portland on March 25, 2002.
“It was unbelievable,” Memphis point guard Mike Conley told reporters. “I felt like we were floating above at another level. I’ve never seen us play so hard and do the things we were doing.”
The win sets up a showdown of the NBA’s two hottest teams Friday in Miami, where the Grizzlies will put their eight-game streak on the line against the Heat’s 12-game run. Memphis sits fourth in the West, 1½ games behind the No. 3 Clippers.
‘The dagger has been retracted’
The closing seconds of the Pistons’ 96-95 win over the Wizards in Washington won’t soon be forgotten, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
Trailing by one with 12 seconds remaining, Washington guard Bradley Beal attacked from the top of the key, opting to kick the ball out to the left wing rather than attempt a shot in traffic. The ball bounced around the perimeter with just seconds to go, eventually finding its way to Trevor Ariza, who launched a three-pointer from the left corner.
Ariza’s shot hit nothing but net; unfortunately, though, it was the outside of the net, as the airballed attempt came up well short. Even more unfortunately, Wizards play-by-play broadcaster Steve Buckhantz thought the shot went through, screaming “Dagger!” to punctuate the game-winner that never actually happened.
“Ariza from the baseline for three and the Wizards with a miraculous comeback in Washington,” Buckhantz said, as the Pistons celebrated and the Wizards trudged back toward their bench.
“The dagger has been retracted,” Buckhantz eventually conceded.
UPDATE: Ariza’s shot fooled Pistons play-by-play announcer George Blaha, too: