Steve Kerr returned, and the Golden State Warriors didn't miss a beat.
Golden State's coach guided his defending-champion squad to a 122-110 win over the Indiana Pacers at Oracle Arena, giving the Warriors their 40th win of the season.
Stephen Curry finished with his second triple-double of the season, scoring 39 points, dishing out 12 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Warriors won their third straight game.
While he showcased his overall game, Curry did what he did best against a good defensive team in the Pacers: make three-pointers. Curry made his 200th three of the season in just 44 games. That number alone is hard to fathom, but the manner in which the reigning MVP hit the milestone was downright absurd:
Curry beat the halftime buzzer with a 49-foot three from half court to give Golden State a 64-51 lead after the first 24 minutes. Much like most of Curry's shots, this one seemed effortless. Curry has made so many threes that it may seem like old habit, but Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star realized how everyone inside Oracle Arena tends to go nuts and feel rejuvenated after the MVP makes a three:
Candace Buckner @CandaceDBuckner
It’s amazing the reaction here when Curry hits a 3. Any 3. Fans celebrate like his shooting holds the key to happiness.1/23/2016, 5:11:52 AM
Pacers rookie big man Myles Turner scored a career-high 31 points, and Indiana (23-20) needed every bit of them to stay in the game. Paul George shot only 5-of-15 for 12 points, and Monta Ellis was the only other starter in double figures with 18 points.
Turner has been on a tear recently, with this scoring outburst on national television being the icing on the cake, as Buckner pointed out:
Candace Buckner @CandaceDBuckner
Final: #Warriors win 122-110. Myles Turner sets career-high with 31 points, two games after setting previous high of 25 points.1/23/2016, 6:04:19 AM
One of the keys to the game was the Pacers not converting on their perimeter shots. Indiana made only three of its 17 attempts, but it shot 46 percent from the floor. Had the Pacers made just a few more of those shots, the game could've been much closer. Instead, Golden State rather easily extended its regular-season home winning streak to 38 games.
Draymond Green put together another all-around terrific game for Golden State, scoring 22 points and tallying 11 rebounds and four steals. Klay Thompson also had 18 points and made four threes in the win.
Kerr missed Golden State's first 43 games after having two offseason back surgeries. Interim coach Luke Walton filled in for Kerr and did so admirably, leading the Warriors to the best start in NBA history at 24-0; however, since Walton was not the official coach, the wins don't go to him.
NBA.com's David Aldridge has both coaches' official records:
David Aldridge @daldridgetnt
So, to reiterate: Steve Kerr's official regular season record as head coach of the Warriors is 106-19. Luke Walton's is 0-0.1/22/2016, 7:38:07 PM
Before the game, Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears detailed the kind of reaction given to Kerr in his return:
Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN
Warriors fans give a lengthy roar and standing ovation to coach Steve Kerr in his return. Warriors put "Welcome Back" on the JumboTron.1/23/2016, 3:39:44 AM
Even Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll extended his best wishes to Kerr before Friday's game:
Pete Carroll @PeteCarroll
Welcome back Steve Kerr! Glad you're back on the bench! And congrats to Luke Walton for a job well in leading the @warriors!1/23/2016, 2:19:18 AM
The world will get an idea just how good Golden State is Monday, when for the first time this year, the defending champions take on the 38-6 San Antonio Spurs.
It takes a special kind of player to have a 39-point triple-double while turning the ball over only twice.
Or, as Kerr joked, Curry couldn't have done it without him, per Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group:
Diamond Leung @diamond83
Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry's performance: "Great coaching."1/23/2016, 6:18:16 AM
Kerr's return could not have come at a better time for the Warriors. While Golden State has played well during Kerr's absence, it only helps to get a shot in the arm before Monday's home showdown with the Spurs.
"I really missed the routine," Kerr said, per the Associated Press (via NBA.com). "It feels like the first game of the season, which it is for me. Fortunately our team's in a pretty good groove and hopefully we can keep going."
Although they came up short and missed some opportune shots, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel felt his team rebounded nicely after the first quarter and finished strong, per Fox Sports Indiana:
FOX Sports Indiana @FSIndiana
Frank Vogel: "We won the final three quarters and I was proud of how we competed" in loss to Warriors. #Pacers https://t.co/ms3OpUDH8j1/23/2016, 6:59:46 AM