The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ 72 wins are so impressive because it is very easy for the nightly grind of the NBA to trip teams up. Sure, injuries can easily cause losses, but so can scheduling quirks, off nights, opposing stars going off, or a million other things.
Wednesday should’ve been one of those nights for the Golden State Warriors. Reminiscent of how the Detroit Pistons beat them, the Miami Heat played a rough-and-tumble defense that knocked the Warriors out of their rhythm. Dwyane Wade had a throwback game, second round draft pick Josh Richardson scored 15 points, and the Heat led for most of the game. But in the end they lost 118-112, because right now Stephen Curry is the best player in the world.
Curry is the only reason the Warriors were even still in the game by the end of the first quarter. No other Warrior scored more than two points—Curry had 14—and it took this only-believable-because-it’s-Curry 40-foot shot to be down by just nine:
The Warriors slowly crawled back into the game in the second and third quarters, and traded the lead back-and-forth in the fourth quarter, on the strength of 17 of Klay Thompson’s 33 points. He was basically the only non-Curry Warriors to show up.
But with the Warriors down 106-104 with just over a minute left in the game, Curry buried a three. Twenty-seven second later, after Wade made two free throws, Curry buried another. From there it just took making some free throws, and Curry finished with 42 points and the win.
If you take a look at that last Curry three, you’ll notice it came after Draymond Green’s attempt was absolutely crushed by Hassan Whiteside, which is a neat microcosm of their respective games. Whiteside piled up 21 points on 8-11 shooting, 13 rebounds, and a couple of blocks, while Green scored just 10 points on 3-7 shooting, nine rebounds, and as many turnovers as assists. He looked off most of the night.
The reason it’s even worth comparing their lines, of course, is because of their beef. Over the summer Whiteside tweeted about how small ball centers can’t guard him. Green, probably the league’s most prominent small ball center, took offense, and the two got into a back-and-forth in which Green touted his new $82 million contract and called Whiteside a flopper.
But yesterday, Whiteside made the dubious claim that he wasn’t even talking about Green. He also confirmed that it was an internet beef, and that the two had never spoken in real life.
Those hoping that two of the league’s mouthiest and most physical players would go at it left disappointed. Warriors big ball center Andrew Bogut played 30 minutes—his fourth most of the season—and newly acquired backup Anderson Varejao played 10. But you can bet Whiteside was extra motivated to close out Green 25 feet from the basket, 47:30 into the game, and swat the shit out of his shot.
Unfortunately for Whiteside, Stephen Curry cares nothing for his pride or his beef. Whiteside may have won the battle, but Green—with a lot of help from his friends—won the war.
Photo via Getty