INDIANAPOLIS — Stephen Curry breathed out a sigh.
As much as he’d hoped to pass Hall of Famer Ray Allen on Monday to become the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, Curry will gladly take staving off back-to-back losses for the first time all season after leading Golden State to a 102-100 escape of the Indiana Pacers.
“I’m enjoying the moment. Now that you’re knocking on the doorstep it’s pretty surreal, but it’s also trying to just let it happen,” Curry said. “It’s one thing I’ve learned over these last few games is just keep playing basketball, keep taking shots you think you’ll make, and enjoy the experience of it because it’s a long time coming.”
Curry drilled five 3-pointers, scoring a team-high 26 points to move just two triples away from breaking Allen’s record. The win sets the stage for Curry to surpass Allen on the game’s biggest stage Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks with his childhood idol Reggie Miller on the call for TNT (7:30 ET).
“He’s on the call?” Curry asked. “I have no idea [how the atmosphere will be at MSG]. I don’t really want to even guess. I kind of just want to be in the moment to be honest. I’ve had some fun nights in that building. It’s hard not to because it’s the Garden, the whole legacy of that building, how iconic it is and how many cool things have happened in that building. So, I’m gonna enjoy it.”
Curry has played a total of 788 games going into Tuesday’s clash at Madison Square Garden and will likely break the record in 511 fewer games than Allen (1,300). Curry also finds himself just 28 3-pointers away from hitting 3,000 for his career — a milestone yet to be reached in the NBA.
Interestingly, Kerr called Curry’s pursuit of Allen’s record “a slight distraction” at Monday’s shootaround, and on Saturday the coach acknowledged his own role in possibly contributing to the buildup with remarks going into the team’s last home game on Dec. 8 before it embarked on this current five-game road trip.
“I told the media in Philadelphia the other night I fed into it because somebody asked me if Steph could break it at home against Portland with 16 3s, and I said, ‘Sure,’ because nothing Steph does surprises me,” Kerr said. “But that fed into the narrative. He came out and he took 17 3s that night. Our crowd was going crazy from the very beginning, and I’m shaking my head thinking, what the hell did I just do?”
“I think the most important thing is we just have to settle in. It’s gonna happen obviously pretty soon,” Kerr continued. “We just have to get into a rhythm. We haven’t been great offensively over the last five or six games, and [we’ve] got to get back into a rhythm. It’s more likely that he’ll make more 3s if our team’s in a good rhythm and we’re just playing.”
Golden State worked diligently toward that Monday, moving the ball feverishly looking for solid looks that it found but failed to convert. Curry fired up his first 3-pointer at the 7:55 mark of the opening quarter from 25 feet out, and even paused a tick to line up the wide-open shot. The ball fell halfway down the cylinder before jiggling out to a waiting Myles Turner. Twenty-six seconds later, Curry zipped by Domantas Sabonis on a drive to the hole for his first field goal, a reverse layup that tied the score at 10.
Curry hoisted just two 3-pointers in the opening frame, and five total in the first half as Indiana often sent double-teams the point guard’s way to meet him near half court.
Both of Curry’s first-quarter misses came on solid looks, too. Draymond Green found Curry wide open in the corner with 5:58 remaining, and with the ball in flight, the point guard leaned back seemingly trying to will it into the bucket.
“I think subconsciously, you just want him to get the record,” Green said. “So, even if you’re not going into the game saying, ‘I’m going to give Steph the ball every time,’ subconsciously, you want him to get a 3 up. And that’s always a good option. So, it’s not like you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. We play that way anyway, where we’re trying to get Steph loose.”
Curry said the thought of breaking Allen’s record by hitting 16 3-pointers at the Chase Center “sparked a little extra” something neither he nor the Warriors needed going into the Dec. 8 win over Portland, describing the feeling as “anxiousness about the whole night.” Perhaps the vibe carried into Saturday’s loss at Philadelphia — when Curry connected on just 3 of 14 from deep with Sixers guard Matisse Thybulle draped all over him — and into Monday, as he connected on 2 of 7 from long range in the first half.
Curry admitted he’s hearing “a little bit of everything” from opponents during this road trip trying to stop him from breaking Allen’s record.
“I saw Joel [Embiid], what he said in his postgame. He can say whatever he wants to say,” Curry said after the win over the Pacers. “I know teams are coming out trying to make sure it doesn’t happen, especially if it’s making 10 or 16 or seven, whatever it is. But again, I’m just enjoying building the moment. You won’t get this again in terms of the chase to get over the mountaintop. After that it’ll just be about how far can you push it.”
Curry connected on 4 of 8 from deep in the second and third quarters, before finishing 1 of 5 from 3-point range in the final frame. Curry hit his final 3 with 1:24 left to play, before tying the score at 100 with 48.5 remaining when he drove past a double team for a finger roll. Curry faceplanted on the driving layup. As he headed back to the bench during a timeout, the team erupted in celebration along with the surprisingly pro-Warriors crowd of 17,018 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Kevon Looney added the finishing touches with 13.4 seconds remaining with his go-ahead putback layup for the win.
“I realize how much work’s gone into it, but there is a lot of attention and commotion,” Curry said at shootaround just hours before Monday’s matchup. “Even from the last home game, the schedule [has] kind of provided a little extra emphasis [on] seeing if I could do it before we came on this road trip. After that, when I get on the floor, I’m just playing basketball, having a good time, trying to win games in the process. Obviously, I’d like to shoot the ball better, play better. I know that’s going to happen, and the record will come as a part of that. But I’m just enjoying the process.”
Still, the storylines associated with each leg of the trip only add to the difficulty of living in this historic moment.
“There’s a narrative for pretty much everywhere on this road trip that you could kind of key in on,” Curry said. “Reggie [Miller’s] presence and legacy here, playing against my brother [Seth] in Philly, in the [Madison Square] Garden tomorrow, the court that Ray Allen broke Reggie’s record in Boston. So, again, it will happen when it happens.”
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