Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss.
That’s what Steph Curry’s shot chart looked like late in the second quarter on Saturday night. The greatest shooter in the world –perhaps the greatest shooter in basketball history– was 0-for-10 from the floor.
Curry bricked threes, missed twos and blanked on a few layups. He did have two points, though, thanks to a pair of free throws.
Without Kevin Durant, the Warriors were already down an MVP. With Curry, their other superstar was essentially hurting them. But if you’ve watched Curry play since he came into the league in 2009, you’d have a fundamental understanding that over time, Curry would regress to the mean. He owns a 47 percent career shooting percentage, and a 44 percent career mark from beyond the arc, and over time, even an 0-for-10 corrects itself.
On Saturday night, it did.
After scoring just two points in the first half on Saturday, Curry busted out for 25 in the second half and wound up leading all scorers in the Warriors’ 110-95 win over the Pelicans.
“It takes a special kind of confidence to do what Steph did tonight,” Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr said. “I think he was like 0-for-his-first-10. I would have quit after like four shots, it’s not my night. But guys like Steph, MVP-caliber players, they find a way to turn a bad night into a good one and that’s what he did. He just stayed with it. He’s got the ultimate confidence in himself so he just stayed with it, I thought he started taking better shots in the second half and keeping it more simple. He got it going.”
With Durant sidelined due to a sore ankle and Curry ineffective due to a poor shot (and shot selection), the Warriors’ relied on the steady play of veteran guards Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to weather the storm against a tough New Orleans squad. All three reserves were up for the occasion, as Iguodala played a season-high 31 minutes, Livingston finished plus-nine in 14 minutes and Thompson led Golden State with four three-pointers made.
When Curry was down, there was never a thought to encourage him to find his stroke. Essentially, shooters shoot.
“I never tell someone to keep shooting, I think that’s pretty cliche,” Thompson said. “Guys are going to shoot no matter what and I think he’s the safest bet in the entire world to not even tell to keep shooting. He has proven time and time again for the past nine years that he will eventually get hot and when you’re a career 44 percent three-point shooter, it’s going to fall. I was never worried and I’m sure he wasn’t either.”
Curry still finished just 3-for-13 from three-point range on Saturday, but his flair for the dramatic and penchant for delivering in key moments helped the Warriors pull away from the Pelicans in the third quarter. After Thompson, Iguodala and Livingston steadied Golden State in the second quarter, Curry’s 17-point third period gave his team all the ammunition it needed to pull away from New Orleans.
After Saturday’s game, Curry reflected on his roller coaster evening, surmising that his stubbornness and determination to play to his strengths would eventually help a victory fall into place. A short memory, a quick stroke and a fast turnaround offered the Warriors a sense of what makes their star so special, and just as it always seems to do, Curry’s confidence paid off.
“Just I guess a stubbornness almost that nothing before the shot I’m about to take matters,” Curry said. “You’ve got to kind of block it out as best as you can and have a sense of amnesia almost and just rely on repetitions and the work that you put into it. It is frustrating in the moment when the shot feels good and it doesn’t go in or over the course of a couple games you might not be shooting as well as you want to but you worry about that in practice and in between the games. You can’t let that kind of doubt creep in when you’re out there on the floor or else you’re not going to be the player that you want to be.”