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Red-hot Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry eyes teammate Klay Thompson’s 3-point record

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In the midst of one of the hottest streaks of his brilliant 12-year career, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry had to chuckle when asked if he’d like the NBA single-game 3-point record back from his longtime teammate Klay Thompson.

“Absolutely,” Curry said after scoring 42 points during Wednesday’s 147-109 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The topic of Thompson’s record of 14 3-pointers, a record he took from Curry in October 2018, after Curry made 13 3-pointers in November 2016, came into view on Wednesday given Curry hit 11 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Curry also made reference to a different Thompson record — his 37-point third quarter in Jan. 2015, given that Curry scored 25 points in Wednesday’s third quarter, went 8-for-8 from the field, and was still 12 points behind Thompson’s mark.

“I was kind of joking with some of the guys tonight because I remember Chicago and he did it in three quarters,” Curry said of Thompson’s 14-point record. “His 37-point quarter was even crazier because I had 25 tonight and it just seemed like I was invincible out there — this dude had 12 more points in the same amount of time so that was crazy in and of itself.

“And then the 14 3’s, I had 11, I felt like I couldn’t miss. I think it’s gettable but we’ll see.”

Despite not being able to eclipse Thompson’s marks, the numbers have been eye-popping for Curry recently. Wednesday marked the eighth straight game he’s scored 30 or more points, the longest such stretch in his career. With 11 three-pointers on Wednesday, it marked the second time in his career he’s had back-to-back games with 10 or more threes.

Curry scored 53 points in Monday’s win over the Denver Nuggets — a game in which he passed Wilt Chamberlain to become the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer. Wednesday also marked the 25th time this season Curry scored 30 or more points and it came on a night when the Warriors tied a franchise record with 24 threes.

“It seems like every night even though I say nothing surprises me, I’m still in awe of the shot-making,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s just incredible the level of confidence and skill is just stunning. It’s beautiful to watch. It’s a man at the peak of his powers with a lifetime of training and work, and not just on his body, but on his mind. This is a guy who is functioning at a level that very few human beings ever function at in their particular field. It’s just beautiful to watch.”

Even Curry admitted that it’s one of the best stretches he’s ever had in his career — a career in which he’s already won two MVP awards. In seven games this month, Curry is averaging 39.5 points, seven rebounds and 3.8 assists a game. He’s also shooting 46.2% from beyond the arc.

“Context of seasons are always different,” Curry said. “But this is — obviously the numbers, 30-plus and all that — is the longest streak so that’s a good vibe there. Arguably the best I’ve felt physically and in rhythm, shooting the ball, just seeing the game, so trying to make it last as long as I can.”

Curry has been so hot that when Kerr joked with him to go back in the game late in the third quarter, Curry went to start jogging back to the table before Kerr stopped him.

“I told him he was going back in and he didn’t understand the joke,” Kerr said. “He just wanted to run back onto the floor, that’s how hot he was.”

After years of watching many of Curry’s record-setting performances, Warriors forward Draymond Green and the rest of his teammates know they are seeing something special.

“He’s been great,” Green said. “I’ve seen that a lot of years, so I can kind of tell when he comes out, just the look in his eyes, the attacking from the beginning, what type of night it’s going to be for him. So he’s had that a lot lately and hopefully we can continue to help him and turn that into wins.”

It’s also noteworthy that Curry, who has been dealing with a painful tailbone injury since falling on a riser during a March 17 win over the Houston Rockets, said his body is feeling good again.

“[The injury] might have maybe focused [me] a little more,” Curry said. “Because it kept me more alert at the beginning trying to manage the game and understand that I would try not to fall on it as much. And then as I’ve gotten more comfortable just found a really good rhythm.

“I think the work that goes in behind the scenes of trying to get ready for every game, trying to get your body and your mind ready to play, coming off an injury like that has helped so never too high, never too low, but I feel really good right now.”

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Stephen Curry claims second scoring title as Warriors clinch No. 8 seed

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SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is the NBA’s scoring king for the 2020-21 season.

An 11-foot floater late in the first quarter of Sunday’s 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies gave Curry enough points to clinch the scoring title over Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal.

After Beal scored 25 points in Sunday’s 115-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets to finish with a season average of 31.3 points per game, Curry needed only three points to take the scoring crown, which he accomplished with a pair of field goals, including the clincher with 3:24 to play in the first.

The former MVP left little doubt by game’s end. Curry attempted a career-high 36 shots, including a career-high 22 3-pointers, en route to a 46-point game. He ends the season with 11 40-point games, just one shy of Michael Jordan’s record for the most by any player in his 12th season or later.

The Warriors clinched the eighth seed in the Western Conference with the win, setting them up for a Wednesday road game against either the Los Angeles Lakers or Portland Trail Blazers, pending Sunday night’s results.

Curry, who has already won two MVP awards during his illustrious 12-year career and was showered with “MVP” chants during Sunday’s game, has played arguably his best regular season during this condensed, coronavirus-shortened campaign. He averaged 37.3 points per game during 15 April contests — a stretch that left even his teammates and coaches in awe.

“We’ve just been really scrappy,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before Sunday’s game. “We’ve been playing some small lineups, but we’ve had phenomenal seasons from both Steph and Draymond [Green] that have given us our foundation.”

Curry ends this season averaging 32 points per game. His previous career best of 30.1 points per game came in 2015-16, when he also became the first unanimous MVP in league history and won his other scoring title.

At 33, Curry becomes the oldest scoring champion since Jordan led the league with 28.7 points per game in 1997-98 at age 35. Curry also joins Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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Washington Wizards finish improbable run to lock No. 8 seed for play-in tournament

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For months, the 2020-21 season looked like it would be a lost one for the Washington Wizards. There were injuries early on, rumors swirling about a Bradley Beal trade and eventually, COVID-19-related absences that took the Wizards off the floor for nearly two weeks.

The Wizards were 17-32 on the morning of April 7. That’s when ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gave them just a 4% chance of even making the play-in tournament.

However, things started to change, as the Wizards won 17 of their final 23 games, culminating in a 115-110 come-from-behind win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday to lock up the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

“We went through those rough periods we had and we came out stronger for it,” said Wizards center Robin Lopez, who finished with 18 points Sunday.

Now, a team that didn’t look like it had a viable chance to even make the play-in has two chances to try to secure a spot in the playoffs.

It looked bleak on Sunday as Charlotte jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half before the Wizards wrestled the game away late.

“This game kind of mimicked our season,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “A lot of crazy things happened to us. We were getting punched left and right and we just somehow kept battling and coming up with a play here and a play there. They had us on the ropes early. They had us on the ropes [in the] middle of the game. They had us on the ropes toward the end.

“But we just kept getting up and fighting for one another. I’ve been talking about brotherhood for a while now. This group gives a really cool definition of brotherhood, and I can see it firsthand.”

The Wizards finished off the Hornets even thought leading scorer Beal didn’t look like himself. Beal, who ended the season second in the scoring race to Golden State’s Stephen Curry, finished with 25 points but was 8-of-27 from the field and 3-of-11 from deep.

He had missed the previous three games with a hamstring strain and was clearly laboring through the first half.

Brooks said he was preparing not to play Beal, but roughly 30 minutes before tip, Beal told him he wanted to go and Brooks and the medical staff carried out their plan to monitor Beal throughout the game.

“I cannot say enough about Brad’s toughness,” Brooks said. “He is so skilled and athletic, but the four years I’ve been here, there’s not a lot of guys who have his mental toughness, his focus and his determination. He’s been put in very difficult positions over the last three years because of injuries and he had to lead our group by himself. Now he has a partner.”

That partner is the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles, Russell Westbrook, who added another one against the Hornets with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Westbrook finished the season averaging 22.7 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds per game. It’s the fourth time he has averaged a triple-double for the season as he posted career highs in assists and rebounds per game. He also locked up his third season assist crown.

“Like I said all season long, I’ve always had the utmost confidence in everybody in the locker room,” Westbrook said. “Always try to find ways to weather the storm. You gotta give credit to our coach because he’s done an amazing job of making adjustments on the fly. The players always get the recognition but Scotty has done a hell of a job of being consistent and finding ways to make us better along with the coaching staff. We’ve had a lot of guys step up.”

Washington will take on Boston in the play-in tournament’s 7-versus-8 game on Tuesday night. The winner will advance to the playoffs as the seventh seed while the loser will face the winner of the Indiana-Charlotte contest on Thursday to see who makes the playoffs as the eighth seed.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Wizards are looking to become the first team since the 1996-97 Phoenix Suns to be 15 games below .500 at any point in the season and still make the playoffs.

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New York Knicks clinch No. 4 seed, set up series vs. Atlanta Hawks

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After leading the New York Knicks not only to their first playoff appearance in eight years, but also securing the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 96-92 win over the Boston Celtics, Julius Randle said he isn’t interested in discussing how far the Knicks have exceeded their lowly preseason expectations.

“It didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now,” said Randle after finishing with 20 rebounds, seven assists and seven rebounds in Sunday’s win over the Celtics. “People really didn’t believe in us at the start of the season … it’s about what we believe in the locker room.”

And, after a season in which the Knicks have repeatedly defied expectations, they feel confident they can continue to do so in the postseason. They’ll have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks.

But while everyone in Gotham was happy after Sunday’s game, there were plenty of anxious feelings when the Celtics — sitting virtually everyone in their rotation ahead of Tuesday’s play-in game, having already been locked into the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference — pulled to within one possession late in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks, though, eventually held on, ensuring they would finish ahead of Atlanta by virtue of sweeping the series between the two teams and earning the right to host the first two games in their first-round series beginning next weekend at Madison Square Garden.

“Hey look, the bottom line is getting a win,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said, when asked if his team took their undermanned opponent lightly. “We talked about it before the game, if you’re in the NBA you’re a great player. And so they pose a lot of problems. They played a terrific game, which I knew they would they’re a well-coached team. And no matter who you’re playing against, you have to play for 48 minutes.”

Ultimately, though, the Knicks did just enough to win, and get themselves into a first round series with the Hawks, another young team making its first appearance in the playoffs in a few seasons. And while the Knicks did sweep the three meetings between the two teams in the regular season, Thibodeau wasn’t hearing anything about the Knicks having an advantage over their playoff opponents.

“That means nothing going into the playoffs,” Thibodeau said. “So the regular season is the regular season. When you play those games there are a lot of things that go into it. There could be players out. There could be travel involved.

“We know how well they’re playing. They’ve gotten a lot better as the season has gone on. So we’re going to have to be ready. We’re going to have to play a 48 minute game.”

Sunday’s win also marked a notable occasion for the team’s top two players, Randle and RJ Barrett — both of whom are making their first trip to the playoffs.

For Randle, it’s been a long time coming, as this is his seventh NBA season and his third team.

“Extremely,” Randle said, when asked if he was ready for the playoffs. “The way I prepare from game to game I don’t think my habits are going to change. I think I do a good job of preparing myself to play on a night-to-night basis and it will be the same thing [for the playoffs].”

For Barrett, Sunday’s win was validation for an impressive sophomore season for the 6-foot-6 guard, who said he accomplished a goal he set for himself when the Knicks took him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

“It feels amazing, especially doing it with a group of guys who were here last year through some tough times,” Barrett said. “We were able to turn the program around and we have a bunch of new pieces. That’s really what it is how we worked hard and nobody really gave us a shot but we’re here.”

“We brought Knicks fans what they want — brought them back to the playoffs. But before I got drafted, this is what I envisioned. This is what I wanted to do. I’ve always said I’m a winner. I had a feeling I’d be part of multiple teams that will get to the playoffs.”

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