Stephen Curry began the first half of the season taking a back seat to Kevin Durant, and did so by design. The reigning unanimous MVP wanted to make sure Durant got comfortable in his new situation as quickly as possible, and that meant a dip in Curry’s numbers, along with far fewer of the spectacular performances that we had come to expect.
In Saturday night’s win over the Clippers, however, the old Curry was back. He scored 25 in the third quarter on his way to finishing with 43 points, nine rebounds and six assists in just 29 minutes of action, while doing things like this:
So what prompted the somewhat sudden outburst? It may have been the result of Durant’s continuous conversations with Curry encouraging him to be himself.
“I just said to him, ‘Don’t worry about me,’” Durant told ESPN of his ongoing dialogue with Curry. “I said, ‘Just play your game. I’ll figure it out. I’ll figure it out around you. You’re the engine of this team, and I know that. I’m not trying to come over and feel like everything just revolves around me. Just do you, man. I’m going to play around you. I’ve played this game long enough. I know how to score. I know how to find the ball. Just go out there and play your game.’ And that’s what he’s been doing.”
“For lack of a better term, he said I need to get in my bag and be aggressive,” Curry told ESPN of Durant’s message.
The Warriors were pretty much unstoppable last year when Curry was playing like this; it’s why they won a record 73 games during the regular season and came within one victory of repeating as champions. They’re currently 40-7 with the best record in the league — even when factoring in Curry’s relatively slow start.