Two-time MVP Stephen Curry got his swagger back on Sunday night, scoring a career-high 62 points as the Golden State Warriors outgunned the Portland Trail Blazers 137-122.
It was just like old times for Curry, arguably the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA.
Curry, who played just five games in the coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 season due to a broken hand, drained eight of 16 from beyond the arc to score the most points by a Warrior since Rick Barry scored 64 in the 1970s.
The Warriors went wire-to-wire for the win at the Chase Center in San Francisco and Curry got into the zone early, delivering 21 points in the first quarter and capping his night with 17 points and several late threes in the fourth.
Curry topped his previous high of 54 with two free throws with 2:23 to play and capped his night with a nothing-but-net three pointer with 42 seconds remaining. It was his seventh career 50-point game.
“I just try to stay humble and stay in the moment. As long as I keep being aggressive and decisive then good things will happen,” he said. “I want to make the right decisions. A lot of it is just not rushing things. I got to make sure I see everything right.”
The 50-point night was the NBA’s first of the season, while the 60-pointer was the first for a Warrior since Klay Thompson had 60 in 2016.
The only blemish for Curry was that his streak of free throws was snapped at a franchise-record 80 in the first quarter. The run dated to March 2019.
Elsewhere, Thomas Bryant stuffed the go-ahead dunk with 14.9 seconds left and the Washington Wizards held on for a 123-122 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27 points and 10 rebounds and assisted on Bryant’s decisive basket, which stood up as Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant both missed on the final possession of the contest.
It was a drama-filled finish at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot put the Nets ahead 122-121 with a wide-open layup with 28.2 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, a double-teamed Beal managed to find Bryant under the basket. Irving, who led all scorers with 30 points, missed a three-pointer with less than six seconds remaining. Brooklyn corralled the rebound, but Durant’s last-gasp effort also missed.
“We’ve got two of the best players ever to touch a basketball on the other side, so it’s a tough task, man, but I think we did an excellent job of accepting that challenge,” Beal said of the Wizards defense.
Russell Westbrook finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards.
In Memphis, reigning champions the Los Angeles Lakers notched their third straight road win, with LeBron James scoring 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter of a 108-94 victory over the Grizzlies in Memphis.
The Grizzlies, without reigning Rookie of the Year Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. because of injury, used a 17-0 scoring run to take an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 12 in the first half.
But the Lakers closed the half on a 20-9 scoring run to lead by two at the interval and with a determined James leading the way finally pulled away in the final period.
“We were doing a lot of jostling with Memphis,” James said. “At the start of the fourth, I wanted to try and implement myself and my scoring a little bit more. Get a bit more in attack mode and see if I could kind of open the game up – and we were able to do that.”
Spanish big man Marc Gasol, who started his NBA career in Memphis where he spent 11 seasons, played there for the first time since he was traded by the Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors two seasons ago. He finished with seven points, six rebounds for the Lakers – along with four stitches in a cut above his left eye received in a fall.
Jayson Tatum delivered the game-winner in the Boston Celtics’ 122-120 victory over the Pistons in Detroit, his fall-away jumper with 2.9 seconds left making the difference as the Celtics bounced back from a narrow loss to the Pistons on the same court on Friday.
Elsewhere, Denver’s Nikola Jokic posted his fourth triple-double of the season with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists and Jamal Murray scored 32 points for the Nuggets in a 124-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
(With inputs from AFP)