BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Taking charge down the stretch to break open a tight game, Steph Curry scored 13 points in the final 1:45 to lead the Warriors to a thrilling 109-105 victory over the Boston Celtics in a nationally televised prime time showcase at Oracle Arena Saturday evening.
The Celtics raced out to 37-27 first quarter lead behind the hot shooting of Kyrie Irving and Cal’s Jaylen Brown, but Golden State responded with the first 10 points of the second quarter to tie the game with both Curry and Irving on the bench. It was a dogfight the rest of the way in a possible NBA Finals preview between the two teams that each hold the best record in their respective conference.
By the time Boston went into the locker room with a 54-50 lead at the half, their was also a side show of the one-on-one battle between Curry and Irving for point guard supremacy. That match-up, and the game as a whole produced playoff intensity for the entire 48 minutes. Curry finished with a season high 49 points, including 33 in the second half, while Irving poured in 37.
While the Warriors defense deserved credit for helping to cool off Boston’s lights out first quarter shooting, it was the Celtics league best tight defense that held the Warriors to a season low 19 assists keeping the tense game’s outcome in doubt until the closing moments.
After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was raving about both the intensity of the elite match-up and continued brilliance of his point guard. “It was a great basketball game. It just felt like a playoff game. Both teams playing incredibly hard and smart – not a lot of turnovers.” When asked if he thinks people still underestimate Curry, he stated “I think when a guy has been an MVP twice you just sort of accept the fact that he is one of the best players in the world. When he was on the rise and the MVPs happened, it was maybe a bigger story, but maybe that’s the best sign of true greatness, when people just expect it every night. We expect it every night because it happens almost every night. He’s just a special, special player.”
Curry agreed that the game was fought with a playoff intensity. “They are a great team. You have to play a solid game to beat them. That’s great preparation for us as we try to build those habits and in a playoff kind of mentality towards the end of the season.”
Kevin Durant scored 20 points to go along with nine rebounds, while Draymond Green added 15 points and 11 boards. Jaylen Brown backed Irving with 20 for Boston while Al Horford contributed 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Becoming the first team in the league with 40 wins as it extended it’s record to an NBA best 40-10, the Warriors will now get a couple days of rest before starting a three game road trip Tuesday night in Salt Lake City against the Jazz. Golden State returns home on February 6th to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first test of a four game home stand.