Steph Curry described his opening night performance against the Los Angeles Lakers as “trash” and admitted he “shot the ball terribly.”
He still put up his first triple-double since 2016 and helped the Golden State Warriors to a 115-106 away victory, but it’s clear he holds himself to higher standards.
It wasn’t a bad way to bounce back then, if you can even call it that, after he made all nine of his field goals – including five from beyond the arc – to put up a blistering 25 points in the opening quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.
For comparison, the Clippers only scored 27 as a team in the same period.
Credit where it’s due, Ty Lue’s team didn’t go away, despite the Warriors extending the lead to as many as 18 in the second. Midway through the third it was neck and neck. Early in the fourth quarter the Clippers even had the temerity to take a nine-point lead, with Paul George (29 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) having a night to remember of his own.
The Warriors clawed it back and then, inevitably, Curry put LA’s other team to bed and kissed them goodnight with two ludicrously deep three-point bombs in the final two minutes, bringing up his 45 points for the evening and earning the W for Dub City: final score 115-113.
After the game, Curry told the Inside The NBA crew that putting himself in Most Valuable Player contention is always part of the mission with every new season, although he strives to do it in the right way.
“If you’re doing what you’re supposed to do that’s hopefully the end result, that you’re in that conversation,” he explained.
“Affecting winning, leading a team on the court and off the court. Just trying to find ways to elevate your game.
“It’s always part of the mission. It’s not so much a vision of the MVP trophy every time you set foot on the floor, but the expectation of how you’re supposed to play every night is MVP-type, [MVP] calibre expectations. So I always have that.”
Curry finished third in MVP voting in the 2020-21 season, with big men Joel Embiid and eventual winner Nikola Jokic dominating the discussion for much of the season. Curry did, however, pick up more first place votes (five) than runner-up Embiid (one).
One aspect of Curry’s game that he certainly appears to have elevated is his rebounding, following on from a career-high 5.5 per contest last season. He has picked off 10 boards in each of his two games so far, a remarkable amount for a 6ft 2in guard not known for his athleticism.
Curry puts it all down to positioning and anticipation and while those numbers won’t be maintained long-term, it’s easy to envisage him improving on his career-best mark from the previous campaign.
There is also, of course, the small matter of him becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in three-point field goals. His eight makes from 13 attempts against the Clippers edged him even closer to Ray Allen’s record of 2973.
Curry now needs just 131 to tie and 132 to surpass the mark, a number he will very likely reach within the next 20-40 games.
All-time 3-pointers made, NBA history
Regardless of where he finishes in the MVP running – and you can bet your bottom dollar he will be in there – this will be a historic season for Golden State’s golden boy, who was also named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team before the game. Even at 33 he is still finding new ways to get better.