Steph Curry is famous in our area for 3s, so it was no surprise that he managed to pull off another one this week.
Curry scored 28 points in Golden State's 113-103 win over the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night and completed a personal trifecta. Thomas Wolfe, another North Carolina icon, once wrote "You Can't Go Home Again" – but Curry has proven that one wrong a few times over the years.
Curry participated in a ceremony to retire his high school jersey at Charlotte Christian Tuesday. Then he rolled north on Interstate 77 to Davidson as the Wildcats renamed the student section in his honor. And then the next evening – in a game that was much tougher than the final score indicated – he and the Warriors fought off a fine effort by the Hornets.
Curry hit six 3-pointers during Wednesday night's game, including two critical ones in the fourth quarter. The Warriors (39-7) showed why they are an elite team in the last five minutes, breaking open a game that the Hornets (23-23) had led by five points entering the final period.
"It was great, man," Curry said of his trip to Charlotte. "All two of the schools that I played for and the Warriors got a win. So that's a solid trip."
Curry is an eight-year NBA veteran now, so he has become fairly used to his once-a-year trips back home to play the Hornets and the team his father Dell once starred for in Charlotte. (Dell Curry now serves as the Hornets' TV analyst, but this game was on ESPN so he got to sit in the stands with his family).
Steph Curry has always played well in Charlotte. In six NBA games with the Warriors in Charlotte before Wednesday, he had averaged 30.8 points. That was his highest average as a visiting player against any NBA team.
But he always got nervous about it, too. Said Curry when I asked him whether playing in Charlotte was complicated or easy for him: "I've kind of got a rhythm on how to enjoy all the stuff I have going on – whether it's family, whether it's going to see Charlotte Christian or Davidson play, whatever it is – then making sure I get rest and get ready to lock into the game. Tonight was the first time I actually didn't feel any kind of jitters or anxiousness, to be honest. In years past, I've always kind of had an extra butterfly in my stomach knowing I get to play at home. But tonight I felt really, really comfortable."
He looked comfortable Wednesday, and he needed to be. Curry started with a flourish, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. But he still only had 13 at halftime, and Charlotte only trailed by six.
Then the Hornets played a gorgeous third quarter, outscoring the Warriors by 11 points. The largest Hornets crowd in Spectrum Center history – 19,639 fans, with at least a third of them cheering for Golden State – was rocking.
But Golden State boasts two of the best five players in the world in Kevin Durant (33 points) and Curry, and those two wouldn't let the Warriors lose. (Curry becomes a free agent in the summer of 2017 and has not ruled out playing for the Hornets, but I don’t think it will ever happen. We’re going to see him once a year in Charlotte for the foreseeable future, and that’s it).
"We definitely wanted to win for him coming back home," Durant said of Curry. "You hear all the fans, family and friends that came here to support him. He played extremely well and hit some big shots in the fourth."
Golden State has now gone 132 regular-season games without losing two in a row – an NBA record. The Warriors did, of course, lose three in a row to Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals.
Curry wants to avenge those losses to Cleveland and win his second NBA championship this season. And if Charlotte's favorite son is able to put together several more road trips as good as this one was, don't bet against it.