Chris Paul's 42 points and the return of Lob City were great, but last night's Warriors-Clippers game was also about Steph Curry further cementing his status as the league's most singular talent.
Above is a video clip showing all nine three-pointers that Curry hit last night, but I'd like to draw your attention to two in particular. At the 11-second mark, Curry, who is being guarded as tightly as possible by Jared Dudley as he brings the ball up the floor, stops about 27 feet away from the basket and splashes a three right in Dudley's face. At the one-minute mark, Dudley is victimized again when Curry catches the ball on the right wing. With a 3-on-1 fast break laid out before him, Curry decides to launch another three from 27 feet out and baits Dudley into committing a foul on the shot.
The question one can't help but ask after watching those two shots is simple: What the hell else was Jared Dudley supposed to do? The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing. On the first, nothing short of a clothesline at half court would have prevented Curry from getting his shot off. Dudley was playing perfect defense, but in Steph Curry's world that just means that you're going to be giving up threes from 27 feet instead of 25.
It's Curry's utter disregard for the way things are supposed to work that leads to him getting four-point plays like the one in the second shot described above. The conventional play for Dudley to make in that scenario is to stay at home in the paint, preventing Andre Iguodala and David Lee from streaking to the hoop for an easy basket. In that situation, the smart play is to take your chances with the guy who is almost 30 feet away from the basket putting up a shot. But that's Steph Goddamn Curry out there on the wing, so Dudley knows his only option is to close out as hard as possible, leaving two men open right under the basket. Let me repeat that: Jared Dudley chose to leave two men wide open under his basket in order to close on a guy shooting a three-pointer from 27 feet out, and it wasn't a completely ludicrous decision. This happened in an actual NBA game.
This is what we talk about when we talk about Steph Curry existing in another cosmos. Curry attacks the game from impossible angles, and scrambles decades of conventional NBA wisdom with each shot he takes. To try and check Steph Curry is to be thrown into a world in which sane notions of how to play defense have been broken and rearranged in his favor. He makes good defenders like Jared Dudley do the wrong thing in order to try and do the right thing, and then he sticks them with a shooting foul and a scowl for their trouble.