Stephen Curry, who had been out since March 23 with an MCL sprain in his left knee, returned to the NBA Tuesday. He entered Game 2 of the Golden State Warriors’ playoff series with the New Orleans Pelicans with a little more than four minutes remaining in the first quarter. The ovation he received at Oracle Arena sounded as if fans were offering him a lifetime achievement award. It was loud and it was warm.
On his first play, Curry gave the ball to Draymond Green, ran into the lane, curved outside to his right, received the ball from Green and put up a 3. There never was a doubt that the ball would do anything but go in.
Curry scored 28 points in 27 minutes, added seven rebounds and three steals. He scored those 28 points on only 15 field goal attempts.
There is a joy to the style that the Warriors play, and without Curry it was less joyous. They have role players that would be big scorers elsewhere. But those role players allow Golden State’s stars to be stars by giving up the ball. The stars make it easy because they, too, are unselfish.
The New Orleans Pelicans played well Tuesday. But the Warriors beat them 121-116.
New Orleans is fun to watch. So are the Houston Rockets. We’ve been anticipating a Golden State-Houston Western matchup in the Western Conference finals since December.
I long ago picked Golden State to again emerge as NBA champions, and despite the season the Rockets have had, I’ll stick with the Warriors. To beat Houston, they’ll have to be better than they’ve been all season.
Curry wasn’t Golden State’s best player Tuesday. Draymond Green was. But Curry, the former Davidson star, makes a heck of a sixth man.