For a while Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, the Dallas Mavericks were running the Golden State Warriors out of their own gym.
Then, Steph Curry happened. Again and again and again.
In a spectacular eye-popping performance for the ages, Curry had an incredibly hot hand as he poured in a season-high 51 points while the Warriors rallied from a 22-point deficit to beat the Mavs 128-114.
Overall, Curry was 16-of-26 from the field, including an amazing 10-of-16 from 3-point range as he converted shots from all over the court. It was as if he was playing a video game, especially in the third quarter when he scored a personal best 26 points.
“He’s one of the best, especially when he gets going,” said J.J. Barea, who started out defending Curry. “He’s the best in the league when he gets going.
“You just got to give all the credit to him. He made some shots and he looked like the best player in the NBA.”
Asked if he’s ever witnessed a shooting display like the one Curry had, Barea said: “I don’t think so. Especially not live. It was pretty impressive.”
The Mavs started impressive and built a 24-4 lead with 5:38 to go in the first period following a steal and fast break dunk by Chandler Parsons. Dallas kept up the pressure as they increased the lead to 40-18 with 1:21 still remaining in the opening period after a basket by Charlie Villanueva.
Then the Warriors (39-8) chipped away and chipped away while showing why they have the best winning percentage in the NBA. Golden State kept hitting the Mavs with body punches as their All-Star backcourt tandem of Klay Thompson and Curry riddled Dallas’ defense until the Warriors only trailed 62-58 at the half.
From there, Curry took over. And it was all over for the Mavs.
In the third quarter alone, Curry converted 8-of-11 shots, including 6-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc. He scored more points in the third period than any of the Mavs’ players put up in the entire game.
“He’s very capable of hitting shots like that,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “Tonight he had one of those extra special nights, and I’ve never seen anybody in this league hit shots like that from that distance.
“He’s one of the very rare guys that we’ve ever had in this league, and we just didn’t do a good enough job on him.”
Despite the reversal of fortune, the Mavs still had chances to get out of town with a victory. But with Dallas down 114-109 and four minutes remaining, Dirk Nowitzki threw the ball in the backcourt for one of the Mavs’ eight turnovers.
And with the Mavs still down five, Devin Harris lofted one into the backcourt, which Curry chased down before being fouled by Nowitzki. The subsequent pair of free throws by Curry put the Warriors ahead 120-113 with 1:59 left.
Three more free throws by Curry padded the Warriors’ lead to 123-113 with 1:35 to go. Afterward, Curry was more pleased with how the Warriors dug themselves out of that 22-point hole than his torrid shooting display.
“Huge win for us being resilient,” Curry said. “We are a team that never thinks we are out of the game, and everyone on that roster did something to impact the game tonight.
“We want to give [the fans] a chance to get into the game and obviously they did that before halftime.”
The Mavs seemed both dazed and in awe of what Curry did to them.
“It’s crazy trying to defend it,” said Chandler Parsons, who scored 24 points. “I’ve never seen anything like it.
“We’ve got to do a better job showing our bodies, and at that point we’ve just got to get the ball out of the dude’s hands because he’s going bananas.”
Nowitzki, who was 4-of-15 with 15 points, noted that Curry just has so many weapons that it’s difficult to contain him.
“He got hot there,” Nowitzki said. “He’s obviously a very, very good player and he got going there.”