ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Stephen Curry’s smile gave way to laughter.
The reigning MVP received an inbounds pass following a free throw, took a couple of dribbles past midcourt before launching a 13-meter shot that banked in at the buzzer.
The crowd rose to its feet, Curry lifted his arms and struck a pose before chuckling his way to the Golden State bench.
“I was laughing, sure. That really isn’t supposed to happen,” Curry said Thursday night after making 10 3-pointers and scoring 51 points in a 130-114 victory over the Orlando Magic.
“I made a bunch of 3s in the third quarter and then finished with that one,” he added. “It was really funny to me, it just banked off the glass.”
A night after scoring 42 in a six-point victory at Miami, Curry made 20 of 27 shots, including 10 of 15 3-pointers. The Warriors pulled away in the closing minutes of the third quarter, with his bank shot putting the defending NBA champions up 99-91.
“Are you guys surprised?” Magic guard Evan Fournier asked reporters. “I’m not. It’s just what he does.”
Curry topped 50 points for the third time this season, the first player to do it that many times since LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in 2008-09.
That wasn’t his only highlight of the night.
Curry surpassed Kyle Korver’s mark of 127 straight games with a 3, which he tied while making six 3s at Miami on Wednesday night.
“I don’t know that the record is that significant because it’s so simple for him. His 3-point shot is like a 2-point shot. It’s what he does,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s to the point where we expect a half-court shot. . . . It’s a rhythm shot, and it just went in.”
Including the postseason, Curry has made 3s in 149 straight games, also a record.
“I have a hard time seeing how that streak is ever going to end. It would have to be kind of a fluke night,” Orlando coach Scott Skiles said.
“The way he makes them is totally different from Kyle,” Skiles added. “Kyle is sprinting off screens and it’s possible you could switch out and maybe take some away from him, whereas Steph, there are so many of them off the dribble and from 30 feet and fading away. . . . He would just have to be off that night, and that certainly doesn’t happen very often.”
The Warriors improved to 52-5, the best 57-game start in league history. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls won 51 of their first 57 on the way to finishing 72-10.
Curry scored 24 in the third quarter. He sat out the first six minutes of the fourth, added a 3 and a layup down the stretch and also finished with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Rockets 119, Trail Blazers 105
In Portland, James Harden scored 46 points and Houston overcame a 21-point, third-quarter deficit to snap the Blazers’ six-game win streak.
Damian Lillard had 23 points for the Blazers, who had won 15 of their last 18 to move into playoff position in the Western Conference.
Pelicans 123, Thunder 119
In New Orleans, Anthony Davis scored 30 points and blocked four shots, three Pelicans reserves combined for 60 points, and New Orleans beat Oklahoma City.
Russell Westbrook scored 44 points and Kevin Durant 32 for the Thunder in the loss.
Celtics 112, Bucks 107
In Boston, Isaiah Thomas had 27 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics beat Milwaukee for its ninth straight home victory.
Jabari Parker led the Bucks with 22 points and added five assists in the defeat.
Spurs 96, Jazz 78
In Salt Lake City, Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points and San Antonio shut down Utah for its fourth straight road victory.
Tim Duncan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, while Tony Parker finished with 16 points.
Derrick Favors led the Jazz with 25 and Rodney Hood added 12 in the loss.
Nets 116, Suns 106
In Phoenix, Bojan Bogdanovic scored a season-high 24 points to lead Brooklyn over the Suns in a game between two of the NBA’s worst teams.
Mirza Teletovic led Phoenix with a season-high 30 points, but the Suns lost their 13th consecutive game, tying a single-season franchise record.
Thaddeus Young added 18 points, eight rebounds and seven steals for the Nets.
Nets release Johnson
New York — The Brooklyn Nets waived Joe Johnson on Thursday, allowing the seven-time All-Star to leave one of the NBA’s worst teams and join a contender.
The Nets announced the move after agreeing to a buyout of the remainder of Johnson’s contract — one of the largest in the NBA. Players must be waived by Tuesday in order to sign with another team and be eligible for the playoffs.