Steph Curry, the Warriors’ wizard, makes magic again

After their victory in Orlando Thursday night, three members of the Golden State Warriors visited “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios.

With all due respect to J.K. Rowling’s magical character, you have to wonder why they bothered.

In their midst resides an adolescent-looking wizard, one who can summon magic at will and lift his teammates from the perils of the toughest NBA dragons.

Steph Curry, the man with the cape and the wand, is not a one-man team. Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all made great plays in the last minutes of regulation and overtime to help Curry pull out a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. The Thunder contributed several mental errors that allowed the Warriors to complete their comeback. Nevertheless, Golden State banded together under adverse circumstances to pull a win from — shall we say — the dragon’s fire.

While the Warriors, as a group, continue to amaze, Curry is the wand that casts the spell, and he is playing the ball of his life. It’s gotten to the point that when Curry hit the 32-footer to win the game on Saturday, the only reaction was, “Why didn’t the Thunder cover him?” Nobody is surprised any more when that kind of shot goes in. He hit a half-court shot at the end of the third quarter on Thursday in Orlando.  He hit a 40-footer at the end of the first quarter Wednesday night in Miami. We haven’t seen this before, but Steph Curry is creating his own new standard.

Steve Kerr put it this way:

“A three-point shot is like a layup, a halfcourt shot is like a three-point shot. Steph just… that’s what he does.”

Three road games. Three buzzer-beating shots. Crazy.

I’ll have more craziness a little later as we run some numbers, but first I want to talk about this team.

I wrote after their win in Miami on Wednesday night that the Warriors were going to break the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ record in the 80th game of the season. I picked that one because I think they could lose a couple games between now and Game 82, but I can’t see them losing more than that.

The last three games on this road trip did a pretty good job of illustrating my point, written after the Miami escape. In each of these last three games, the opponent played very well. In each game, the Warriors trailed going into the fourth quarter. This makes it harder for the Warriors, because Curry sits out the first 4-6 minutes of the last period. However, the Warriors, led by Curry, made the shots and the defensive plays necessary to win in each case.

This is why I don’t see them losing more than a couple games, and I would not be surprised to see them go undefeated until they hit win number 73. The fact that 17 of their last 24 games are at home, where they are 63-2 over the last two seasons and 24-0 this year, doesn’t hurt.

The Warriors are 16-0 this season against the teams with the 10 best records in the NBA. Percolate on that for a minute. Their only losses are against teams that are around or below .500. That means their losses have more to do with a lack of focus and intensity than anything else. I believe that with the record as their goal, that stinker in Portland after the All-Star break will be the last one where you see them at less than their peak level of intensity.

That doesn’t mean they’ll play well every game, however. In each of the last four games, the Warriors have had stretches where they did not play well, including most of the games against Oklahoma City and Miami, the first half against Orlando, and the 28-6 run the Hawks slapped on them in the third quarter. They won all four games. As I mentioned in my last column, they’re not unbeatable, but they’re the next best thing.

I promised crazy milestones and numbers on Curry, and here they are after Saturday’s latest display of excellence:

He’s the first player in NBA history to make 10 or more 3-pointers in back-to-back games.

He tied the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game with 12.

He broke his own NBA record for 3-pointers in a season with 287. Yes, he broke the record for 3-pointers in a season with 24 games to go. That’s right. 24. He now has the three best 3-point totals in NBA history.

He now has 5 double-digit 3-point games in his career. Nobody else in NBA history has more than three.

Saturday night’s game winner was his 11th shot made this season from 30 feet or more, in 22 attempts. Nobody else in the NBA has more than 2.

Ready for more? Here’s what he did on Thursday night in Orlando:

He became the first player ever to make 10 3s and 10 2s in the same game.

He became the first player ever to score over 50 points without making at least two free throws.

He broke Kyle Korver’s record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer with 128. An under-reported stat within a stat: Curry has now made a 3-pointer in 204 out of his last 205 games. He had an 84-game streak snapped one game before starting his current one.

In a way, you can see Oscar Robertson’s point. It’s hard to understand why teams don’t guard him closer and further from the basket. It’s too bad that his remarks were seen as disrespecting Curry rather than just questioning how he’s being defended by a league that has run out of ideas.

Maybe they should make their own trek to Universal Studios and hunt down some kind of anti-Curry potion. It’s worth a try at this point.

So far, the dark arts are no match for Curry’s magic wand.

John Cannon

About John Cannon

John Cannon is a former radio and television sportscaster. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.