- Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.
Stephen Curry was angry at the officials during Sunday’s 105-90 victory over the LA Clippers, then made the other team pay for it.
The Golden State Warriors star scored 13 of his team-high 33 points in the fourth quarter and caught fire with just over nine minutes left, after a drive toward the basket in which he thought he got fouled by Clippers small forward Terance Mann. Curry did not get the benefit of the whistle and let his frustrations fly, earning a technical foul, while displaying more outward anger than at any other point this season.
“I thought I got fouled, so I let my emotions go,” Curry admitted after the team’s eighth straight win. “And definitely fired me up, fired our team up — you have to be able to direct that energy into just putting the ball in the basket, obviously, after that. So that’s where I feel like we do it well, where you don’t let it become a distraction for the rest of the game, and it obviously helped open up the game.”
Curry, who is now averaging 28.4 points a game this season, broke his own record of becoming the quickest player in history to make 100 3-pointers on the year — this time in 19 games. His play is a major reason the Warriors have started off the season with a league-best 18-2 record — as his emotional outburst at the lack of a call was noticeable to his teammates and coaches.
“It was as upset as I’ve seen Steph in a long time,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And it was as upset as I’ve been in a long time, too. It’s kind of a miracle that I didn’t get a technical, but it seemed to get him going.
“Whatever it takes, I guess … he clearly got fouled. Steph is a guy who, he’s just so competitive, and when he knows he got fouled — especially in a play like that in transition where it’s right out in the open, easy to see, and he doesn’t get the call, every once in a while he’s going to snap. He doesn’t do it often, but when he knows he’s right, the competitor in him comes out and he’ll kind of lose his mind a little bit, but it often spurs him, like it did in this instance.”
Kerr’s point was exemplified with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in regulation as Curry hit a contested 3-pointer in the corner and celebrated by firing off what appeared to be his own technical signal, in response to getting a technical foul a few moments earlier. When asked after the game if that was a technical sign or a sign to Clippers coach Ty Lue to call a time out, Curry said:
“You can decide. It’s open for interpretation.”
Curry’s teammates knew as soon as they saw the usually calm and collected 33-year-old get fired up, the Clippers were going to have a problem.
“You saw the flurry coming,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I was telling Jordan Poole over there, ‘He’s about to put this one up.’ He started putting them up. It was good to watch.”
Curry’s big close pushed the Warriors to their seventh straight win and sets up an early-season showdown on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns — who have won 16 games in a row and sit one game behind the Warriors in the Western Conference standings.
“Obviously, they’re following [Devin Booker and Chris Paul],” Green said. “So you got to try and cut the head of the snake off whenever you’re trying to stop anyone’s attack, but overall I think it will be a good game. Highly anticipated. Two teams that’s playing well — obviously, they’ve won 16 in a row, you want to be the team to go stop that and you got a great opportunity to do it.”
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