This is what Steph Curry was put on Earth to do: shoot. We've seen him do magic on the floor this year, from this frankly unfair bounce pass to a pair of filthy crossovers just two nights ago. But he's a pure shooter, and for 48 minutes at MSG—you don't take out a hand that hot—he shot. Pure.
He did it for free, too. Just before game time Curry learned that he had been fined $35,000 for his role in the Warriors-Pacers brawl on Wednesday. He makes almost exactly $35,000 a game. So you'll forgive him for entering the game with something of a chip on his shoulder. But setting aside even the Garden crowd ("There is a lot of energy in that arena," he said) and the national TV audience, even Curry's teammates were taken aback.
"We were just getting out of his way and letting him do his thing," teammate Jarrett Jack said.
"I just thanked him, because I have never been part of anything like that in my life."
Fifty-four points are a career high for Curry, a season high in the NBA, and just the 14th 50-plus point performance in the current Madison Square Garden. Most of the damage came on a franchise-record 11-for-13 from three. Here's what that looked like:
And here's the shot chart, via the new and improved NBA Stats:
I'd say don't leave Curry open on the right wing, but it may not matter. Last night he was making shots with or without hands in his face, with or without proper time to set and shoot. Curry's final three, which gave the Warriors their last lead of night, was basically a turnaround jumper. He earned the right to break out the Mark Jackson shimmy.
This is what Steph Curry is capable of, and why Golden State made sure to lock him up to an extension through 2017. Maybe those ankles are worrying, but on a good night Curry has the ability to single-handedly keep the Warriors in the game, or win it. He doesn't even turn 25 for two more weeks, but last night Curry's swagger came of age.