OAKLAND, California – Stephen Curry and the dominant Warriors aren’t just beating teams anymore, they’re throwing staggering knockout punches against the NBA’s best — make that second-best.
In a span of eight days, Golden State has 30-point wins over Cleveland, Chicago and San Antonio.
Curry scored 37 points and hit six 3-pointers in three scintillating quarters Monday night, and the reigning champions showed they still rule the West by routing the Spurs 120-90.
“No moment’s too big, obviously,” Curry said. “We know this is just another regular-season game, but there was some hype around it. Every time we have an opportunity to prove who we are and take another step in the journey, we’re ready for it. It wasn’t always that way. This core has been together for a while and understands how to mentally prepare for nights like this.”
The NBA MVP had 15 points in the opening quarter, 18 in the third and shot 12-for-20 in Golden State’s 39th straight home win at raucous Oracle Arena, where a star-studded sellout crowd saw a lopsided showdown in what was billed as a potential Western Conference finals preview.
The Warriors (41-4) snapped a 13-game winning streak by the Spurs (38-7), off to the best start in franchise history but without Tim Duncan this time. The teams had the highest combined winning percentage in NBA history for opponents meeting at least 40 games into the season.
Curry galloped down the court and pounded his chest after his second straight 3-pointer and 10th consecutive point put Golden State up 76-56 with 7:55 to go in the third. It was his 1,400th career 3 and he became the 26th player in NBA history to reach that mark.
Chants of “M-V-P!” came from every corner of the arena as Curry did it all for his highest-scoring total in 17 games against San Antonio — knocking down 3s from the baseline and hitting from 9.1 meters well beyond the arc.
Coming off his second triple-double of the season when he banked in a half-court shot Friday against Indiana, the dynamic point guard had three steals early in the game to set the defensive tone. And the Warriors didn’t relent after building a 62-47 halftime lead.
All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points for the sloppy Spurs, with Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala guarding him early. San Antonio, which lacked the presence of Duncan, out because of soreness in his right knee, committed a season-high 26 turnovers.
“They outplayed us in every single aspect of the game,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “Aggression was one.”
Even coach Steve Kerr was in disbelief watching his current team thoroughly dismantle his old one on both ends — not to mention his mentor and good friend, Gregg Popovich. Kerr coached his second game back following a long leave of absence dating to Oct. 1 because of complications following two back operations.
Popovich understood the hype for one of the most anticipated regular-season matchups in recent memory.
“Why not? It’s the two teams with the best record, playing it up would seem to be logical to me,” he said. “We feel different going against a team that’s the best team in the league. I get butterflies in my gut and excited about the game, and all that sort of thing. I don’t feel like that every night.”
Yet the Spurs are still right behind in the standings despite Golden State’s NBA-record 24-0 start, so the Warriors wanted nothing more than to send a message that they plan to win another championship.
“It was like men and boys out there tonight,” Popovich said.
Hornets 129, Kings 128 (2OT)
In Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins set a Sacramento record with 56 points, most by an NBA player this season, but Charlotte beat the hosts in double overtime after Troy Daniels hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 9 seconds left.
Daniels made eight 3s and scored a career-high 28 points, enough to help the Hornets overcome a dominant performance down low by Cousins.
The All-Star center grabbed 12 rebounds before fouling out early in the second overtime. He surpassed his career best of 48 points set in the previous game, Saturday’s victory over Indiana.
Cousins broke Chris Webber’s mark of 51 points for a Sacramento team, also in an overtime game.
Cavaliers 114, T-Wolves 107
In Cleveland, LeBron James scored 25 points and the Cavaliers gave Tyronn Lue his first win as head coach with a victory over Minnesota.
Rockets 112, Pelicans 111
In New Orleans, James Harden scored 35 points and Trevor Ariza added a season-high 31 to help Houston beat the short-handed Pelicans.
Heat 89, Bulls 84
In Chicago, Dwyane Wade had 28 points, Chris Bosh added 18 and Miami rallied from an eight-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to beat the Bulls, snapping a four-game losing streak.
Celtics 116, Wizards 91
In Washington, pint-sized point guard Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points in three quarters, and five other players finished in double figures as Boston defeated the Wizards.
Grizzlies 108, Magic 102 (OT)
In Memphis, Jeff Green scored a season-high 30 points and the Grizzlies defeated slumping Orlando in overtime.
Pistons 95, Jazz 92
In Salt Lake City, Reggie Jackson scored 29 points and Detroit never trailed against Utah.
Hawks 119, Nuggets 105
In Denver, Paul Millsap scored 22 points, Al Horford had 18 and Atlanta completed its Western Conference road swing with a win over the Nuggets.