Steph Curry's short shooter's memory pays off for the Warriors
By Melissa Rohlin
FOX Sports NBA Reporter
The wizard who can shoot from anywhere on the court was hearing clanks instead of the usual susurrations he had grown accustomed to.
Stephen Curry was finally having an off night.
Following a 10-game stretch in which he averaged 34.5 points on 58% shooting, the basket finally closed on him Wednesday against the Miami Heat.
But it didn't faze him at all.
Even though Curry had gone 2-for-15 from beyond the 3-point line, he didn't hesitate to take a 28-foot stepback 3-pointer with 2:26 left to cut the Warriors' once 19-point hole to two, 103-101.
And then after the game was sent to overtime, it was Curry who made two huge 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 120-112 win.
The first one happened with 1:15 left and the score tied at 109. Curry dribbled through a double-team by Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson, stepped back, pivoted, and then swished a 29-footer. Just over a minute later, Curry made another heavily defended stepback 28-footer over Nunn to put the Warriors up six with 17 seconds left.
Shooters need to have a short memory and Curry once again proved he's the best at it.
"This is so typical of Steph, he's just the kind of player and the kind of person who can be in the midst of one of his worst shooting nights of the year and still hit three enormous shots to help us win the game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Curry finished with 25 points on 8-for-25 shooting from the field and 5-for-20 shooting from beyond the arc.
It was an anomalous night for a guy who had stormed his way into the MVP conversation this month after scoring at least 30 points six times in the first two weeks of February, including a 57-point performance against Dallas on Feb. 6, followed by a 40-point performance against Orlando five days later.
But Curry has made a career of not getting in his own head. He's widely considered the greatest pure shooter of all time and has become a master at adopting short-term amnesia.
"It's the utmost confidence that it will fall eventually," Curry said.
Curry doesn't think about percentages during the game. He can't remember when he first learned how to do that, saying it's something he's been working on since he first started shooting at age 9.
"There's not a specific moment," he said. "It was just bred over time, knowing I put a lot of work into it. I feel like every shot is going in and it's a surprise when it doesn't."
Sure, Curry can score from pretty much anywhere on the court, a skill that transformed the way the modern game of basketball is played. But it's his ability to quickly move past adversity that enables him to do that.
He has an unshakable belief in himself.
"That's why he's one of the greatest players to play the game of basketball," Andrew Wiggins said. "The ability to have a rough first half, but come out with that same mindset and take over the game when it needs to be taken over."
Curry is leading the league in 3-pointers made (145) and is the second-leading scorer averaging 30.1 points per game, the same scoring average he had in 2015-16 when he was unanimously voted MVP. And he's doing it without Klay Thompson (torn right Achilles tendon) helping take the defense's attention off of him.
Kerr recently said that Curry is more physically impressive than ever, pointing out that he's never seen him use his strength to play through contact better than this season.
But his mental strength is sharper than ever, too.
"I just think he hasn't just built up his body and his skill over the years, I think he's also built up his mind," Kerr said. "He's so strong-willed that he doesn't let things bother him and he knows that the law of averages are going to play out.
"He has so much belief in himself that he's going to keep shooting. It's the same reason he shoots three-quarter court shots when there's still time on the clock. He doesn't care about the percentages. He actually believes that's a shot he can make so he takes it. Same thing applies when he's in the midst of a tough night."
That was never more on display than in Wednesday's game against the Heat.
Without Draymond Green (right ankle soreness), Curry was able to help the Warriors complete one of their most impressive comeback victories this season, putting them in position to win three games in a row for the first time this year.
For Curry, it's simple.
"I just was missing," he said. "So not losing confidence is huge and understanding that eventually I'll find the right rhythm, the right look and make a big one."
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA reporter for FOX Sports. She has previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follower her on Twitter @melissarohlin.