OAKLAND, Calif. — Here’s how crazy it got Wednesday night: In the first quarter, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry went off for 23 points against the Washington Wizards, including a stretch in which he scored 18 points in less than 4 ½ minutes.
As he entered heat-check mode, Curry hit from 29 feet . . . then 32 . . . then 34.
And after taking a break in the third quarter and watching in awe from the Warriors' sideline, Kevin Durant checked back into the game and could only shake his head. Even Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, couldn’t believe the spectacle. It was that surreal.
As Curry scored 51 points through three quarters, he created a masterpiece of madness. Three-pointers were his art. The Wizards’ defense provided his canvas. Every time Washington dispatched a new defender to play him harder, tighter, Curry inched further and further away to turn bad shots into beauties.
Following the game, Curry considered what it’s like to make 11 three-pointers, with several coming from unheard of spots on the floor, and described the feeling as “weird.” When he hit his crowning glory, the 11th triple from 31 feet over the outstretched arm of John Wall, Curry turned and shrugged as if to say “whatever.” And there was nothing weird about breaking out a Michael Jordan-inspired celebration because, at that moment, Curry joined Jordan as a repeat Wizards slayer.
Jordan, during his Chicago Bulls days, scored 50-plus on Washington twice, while Curry matched the 51-point total from his Feb. 3, 2016 performance against the Wizards.
“It’s just one of those nights you just have so much fun playing the game,” said Curry, clearly not understanding that fun isn’t the word the visiting team might use.
Though they were the unwilling co-stars in his latest mix tape, the Wizards took Curry’s silly night in stride. When a guy pulls up from the no-launch zone and routinely connects, no defensive scheme in the world can stop it.
“Some of the shots that he was making, you don’t ever see that,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said. “Stephen makes it look like he is playing a video game, because those shots are not normal shots to make.”
Still, Bradley Beal had an idea.
“Probably foul the s--- out of him,” Beal said when asked what the team could’ve done to limit Curry.
The Wizards tried that sound defensive tactic once, sending Curry to the court after a three-point attempt near the team’s sideline. But Curry still swished the shot and bounced up, signaling a four-point play to the euphoric sellout crowd. The players on the Wizards' bench wore blank expressions.
“When he’s hot, he’s hot,” Wall said. “With the game of basketball, we’ve seen him do it for so many years now, so it’s like he’s going to make shots from here and there at times. But you just have to keep playing and move on.”
The Wizards tried to do just that, until Curry’s 5-of-10 shooting in the third quarter broke open the game. As the Wizards emptied their bench, Curry would spend the final quarter with a towel over his head and a grin planted on his face. He could beam over his crazy good performance.
“You never see anything like it,” Brooks said.