Golden State extends winning ways
By STEVE REED
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Unlike his previous two trips to Charlotte, Stephen Curry said he didn’t have any butterflies as he stepped on the court Monday night.
Call it veteran experience — or maybe it’s just supreme confidence given the way he’s playing right now.
Curry put on quite a show for his hometown fans, finishing with 27 points, seven assists and seven rebounds to lead the surging Golden State Warriors to a 104-96 win over the struggling Charlotte Bobcats.
Curry, who grew up in Charlotte and made a name for himself when led nearby Davidson College to the brink of the Final Four in 2008, shot 10 of 22 from the field and hit four 3-pointers.
It was his eighth straight 20-point game, a career best, and he pushed his season scoring average to 20.0 per game.
“This meant a lot,” Curry said. “I didn’t play here last year because I was hurt and we got beat. But the anticipation was high for this game. Seeing my family and to have a performance like we did tonight was definitely the icing on the cake.”
Aside from winning, Curry said the best part was looking into the crowd and seeing his former coach Bob McKillop waving at him.
Curry caught fire in the third quarter, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting — all while his 5-month-old daughter Riley slept in his wife Ayesha’s arms in the stands.
“It was a great homecoming for him,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “The guy’s playing at an elite level right now. I know we keep talking about it and, sooner or later, everybody’s going to catch on. But he’s a heck of a basketball player.”
David Lee continued his torrid pace with 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors (14-7), who have won seven of their past eight games and improved to 4-0 on their current seven-game Eastern trip.
They’ll have a big test Wednesday night when they travel to Miami to face the defending champion Heat.
Jackson said he’s not surprised by his team’s run.
“We came in here and worked our tails off and we prepared ourselves for this season,” said Jackson, whose team is winning without the injured Andrew Bogut. “I didn’t put any limitations on them. But we’re 14-7 with eight road wins.
“Great play by individuals and great play by the group. It’s a wonderful thing when you get a bunch of guys committed and buy in and nobody wants to let go of the rope. I’m extremely proud of these guys.”
Carl Landry added 16 points and Jarrett Jack had 12 points and six assists for Golden State.
Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 17 to lead the Bobcats, who’ve dropped eight straight after starting the season 7-5.
Owner Michael Jordan took a seat at the end of the Bobcats’ bench to try and provide a spark for his team, but it didn’t work.
Charlotte had a miserable shooting night with eight airballs — four by Byron Mullens, who was reinserted into the starting lineup for his scoring after getting benched by coach Mike Dunlap for a game — and also finished with a season-high 18 turnovers.
The Bobcats made a myriad of mistakes, including once letting the 24-second clock run out without even attempting a shot.
Jordan appeared frustrated at times and spoke with several players on the bench during breaks, both trying to teach and inspire his young team.
But this night belonged to Curry and the Warriors.
Golden State took control from the start, shooting a blazing 73 percent from the field to grab a 38-23 lead at the end of the first quarter. They built the lead to 21 at one point and never led by less than 10 until Walker hit a free throw with less than two minutes left in regulation cutting the lead to 101-92.
“We’ve got to play that way from the start,” Walker said of the team’s fourth quarter surge. “That’s it. We waited too long to play that way. I take full responsibility. I’ve got to set the tone early and I didn’t do that.”
Dunlap preached defense back in training camp, but his team has struggled of late to stop anyone.
“What the team has got to understand is it’s a four-quarter game and it’s two-and-a-half event, so the while frustrating the education continues for us,” Dunlap said.
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