OAKLAND, Calif. — Just three days after Stephen Curry watched his NBA-record streak of 157 consecutive regular-season games with at least one three-pointer come to a miserable finish, he took his first step toward a new streak in ultimate style.
"I was able to get some open looks early and often," Curry said, "and good things happened."
Curry drained an all-time-record 13 threes on 17 attempts against the helpless (and still winless) New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, an unprecedented effort that contributed 39 of his season-high 46 points. Moreover, that output helped his Golden State Warriors secure a 116-106 victory at Oracle Arena.
"The last three were pretty special," said Curry, who knocked down a final trio of shots within a 70-second span with less than four minutes to go in the game. Those buckets helped pushed a somewhat tenuous five-point lead to 12, effectively putting the game out of reach.
With these 13 threes, Curry elbowed his way to the top of a list he was already sharing with Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who swished a dozen treys against Gary Payton's Seattle SuperSonics in 2003, and the Toronto Raptors' Donyell Marshall, who rained 12 threes down on a Philadelphia 76ers team in 2005 that not only included Allen Iverson but also current Warrior Andre Iguodala.
Curry's previous record-setting performance came against Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder last February, when the reigning MVP dropped 46 points overall during a memorable overtime win that was one of the season's signature games.
"I was hard on myself in practice," Curry said. "I don't overreact to games like that, whether I go 0-for-10 or 2-for-12. ... My process is the same, but I've had another level of focus the last few days just trying to get my rhythm back."
With a little extra time concentrating on shooting drills with assistant coach Bruce Fraser, Curry was able to toss last Friday's 0-of-10 effort against the Lakers into his cerebral trash bin and start anew on doing what he does best.
And yet neither head coach Steve Kerr nor his charges knew that Curry was on the precipice of history until the achievement had been unlocked.
After Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry called timeout with 2:23 left to play, high-fives and head rubs abounded.
"You could just tell that it was one of those nights pretty early on," said Kerr, himself one of the game's great three-point specialists once upon a time. "He was really carrying us as we were trying to find some footing."
That Curry's distribution was so even through the game—he sank three triples in the first quarter, three during the second and four in the third before that late burst to push him over the top—was perhaps indicative of what's to come as the November schedule starts to lighten up.
Coming into Monday's game, Curry was just 19-of-54 from deep—good enough for a 35.2 percent clip but well below normal for a player who's never averaged worse than 40 percent in any season of his career.
His teammates could see early on that this was a supercharged Curry, and when the NBA's greatest shooter is on his game, you adapt on the fly.
"Unbelievable what he did tonight," said Klay Thompson, who owns the NBA playoff record for threes in a game with 11—set in Game 6 of last season's Western Conference Finals. "When he's on like that, it's pretty impossible to stop him."
Even Durant, who scored 22 points and has been Golden State's most reliable source of offense over the first six games, was thrust into a supporting role in short order.
"We're trying to screen for him, especially if we get stops," Durant said. "It's his job to finish after that. He did an amazing job of making himself available to the basketball, knocking down shots. It was an incredible night."
If nothing else, Curry's performance felt like a throwback to the better days of last season, when he and the Warriors could seemingly do no wrong. This campaign hasn't quite been so smooth, with inexplicably bad losses—first to the San Antonio Spurs in the season opener and then the Lakers—marring a 5-2 start.
This might be the kind of win that can focus a team for the monotony of the early season. This could be the moment when a Warriors squad built on a mountain of expectations can start to gain its footing. And the timing couldn't be better with old friends Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut arriving Wednesday night with the new-look Dallas Mavericks.
Curry (probably?) won't hit 13 threes then. He probably never will again. But the knowledge that it's humanly possible is just another weapon the Warriors can harness.
They'll take all they can get.