With 1:38 to go in Tuesday night’s crazy, unlikely game, Stephen Curry went to the line for two free throws to tie the game — which, of course, he made. But while he was shooting, the “MVP, MVP” chant unexpectedly went up at Oracle Arena.
One’s first thought was, “Wow, this is way to early to be starting this. The Warriors are 17 games into an 82-game season.” But then Curry took it and put an exclamation point on the chant. He knocked home a game-winning 3-pointer (replete with a shake-and-bake move on Orlando’s Tobias Harris) with 2.2 seconds left to give the Warriors a miraculous 98-97 victory in a game in which they trailed the Magic by 9 with less than four minutes to go.
OK, go ahead, chant until we advise otherwise. Hey, if they stopped the season today, it’d probably would be pretty close to unanimous. Curry WOULD be the MVP. He’s the best long-range shooter in the game. He comes up big when it matters. He’s leading a team that’s 15-2 and won 10 straight. He’s averaging nearly 24 points and eight assists, he’s playing the best defense of his life, he’s shooting over 92 percent from the line, and to boot, he’s one of the league’s most model citizens. What more could anyone want?
Coach Steve Kerr showed some good rookie coaching chops by deciding not to call timeout when Draymond Green rebounded the ball with eight seconds to go and the Warriors down by two.
“I’ve always believed if you have individual brilliance, a guy like Steph Curry in the open floor, you let him go,” Kerr said. “I don’t particularly like to call timeouts, allow the other team to make substitutions and get their defense set. Everybody scouts every play you run these days. You come out, and they recognize it, the coaches are yelling right in front of their bench what’s happening. You get Steph Curry in the open floor … it’s a way better option.”
From Curry’s perspective, it was only right to make the final shot considering he missed two easier 3-point attempts in the final two minutes that might have salted the game away earlier.
“You don’t want to miss your last shot on the court,” he said. “The first two were kind of rushed, but I felt like I had enough space and I had my legs under me. You’re frustrated after that, but still, you want to see what the next opportunity might be. It definitely feels good to redeem yourself after missing two missing two chippies I wish I’d made.”
Curry said he wasn’t bothered at all by the sprained left ankle he suffered in Detroit on Sunday, even though he had his foot doused in a bucket of ice afterward. That was good news for a player who was listed as questionable going into the game. He wound up scoring 22 points, and Klay Thompson, who was also questionable with a quad contusion, also made big shots down the stretch and scored 20.
It wasn’t a pretty performance by any means for Golden State, but excusable after a grueling road trip. As Green said afterward, it was a bit of a trap game considering how easily the Warriors handled Orlando last week in Florida. The Magic came into Oakland emboldened by a win at Phoenix, and probably played their best game of the year. The Warriors might have played their worst, or at least one of their worst, but still mustered enough down the stretch to pull it out.
Hence, on Thursday, the Warriors can go for their 11th straight win on Thursday against New Orleans, which would tie the franchise record. These are heady times for an organization and a fan base that has suffered so much over the years. If they want to chant for their MVP, go for it.
Here’s the final game story.