Steph Curry had a career night, but in the end it was Carmelo Anthony who shined down the stretch as he led the Knicks to a thrilling 109-105 win over the Warriors.
Anthony’s 35-point performance will always be overshadowed by Curry’s NBA-season-high 54 points, but in the end he helped his team get the win by making big shots — including a sweet turnaround baseline jumper with 45 seconds remaining for a lead they’d never relinquish — knocking down clutch free throws and making the extra pass that ultimately set up crucial Knicks buckets.
While Anthony showed why he was an All-Star starter, Curry showed why he was arguably the biggest All-Star snub, as he knocked down a franchise-record 11 3-pointers. Curry showed why former head coach Mike D’Antoni and former team president Donnie Walsh wanted him so badly in the 2009 draft, as he put on an exhibition like no other NBA player had this season.
Head coach Mike Woodson, long known as a defensive guru, was even impressed with Curry, while adding that he actually believed the team played good defense when it mattered most.
“I thought we played [good] defense early on, as I was tinkering with the substitution combinations. We were up 14 points but we fell back,” Woodson said. “But teams like the Warriors, who’s having a great season, will never be out of a game because they can make the long ball and Steph can shoot it well enough to keep them in any game. … He has great genes, because his dad [former NBA guard Dell] was a pretty good shooter, too.”
The Warriors (33-25) were without former Knicks forward David Lee (one-game suspension) and center Andrew Bogut (injury). Knicks center Tyson Chandler took advantage as he had a career-high 28 rebounds, including a dominating first quarter in which he grabbed 13 boards — 15 for the first half.
Chandler’s 13 rebounds in the opening quarter were just two away from tying an NBA record for most in a single quarter. And the 15 rebounds in the first half were the most since Charles Oakley accomplished the feat in 1998.
Chandler didn’t seem overly impressed with his effort, although it was the most rebounds by a Knicks player since Willis Reed grabbed 33 rebounds in the 1970-71 season.
“I just wanted to win,” Chandler said. “I had some lively legs after a couple days off, so I just wanted to limit them to one shot per possession.”
Shockingly, the Knicks didn’t make the most of their possessions as they really didn’t shoot all that well, despite solid performances from Anthony, J.R. Smith and Chandler. New York shot just 41.4 percent from the field, including 32.4 percent from 3. Golden State, though, had no such trouble, as they shot 50 percent from the field (55.6 percent from 3).
But ultimately, while the box score belonged to Curry, it was Anthony who owned the most important stat, as he added a season-high eight assists. Anthony’s 15 free-throw attempts also marked the third-straight game in which reached double-figure attempts.
“He made some great plays for us in all areas,” Woodson said. “He’s been our guy all season. He was being aggressive by getting to the line 15 times. … We just have to take advantage of that type of aggressiveness as a team.”
The Knicks (34-20) also received nice contributions from their dynamic duo off the bench as both J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire provided a great spark — particularly in the fourth quarter when the game was still in doubt. Smith led all reserves with 26 points, including a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch, while his running mate, Stoudemire, added 14 points.
Curry’s game shouldn’t be lost in defeat, though, as the fourth-year guard carried a team that was without its two starting big men. He not only dazzled with an incredible shooting touch, but the 6-foot-2 Curry led the Warriors in rebounds (six), assists (seven) and steals (three). Curry also played the entire game, even though the Warriors were playing the second part of a back-to-back, following a very physical game against the Pacers the night before — a game marred by Lee’s skirmish with Indiana center Roy Hibbert.
Curry’s total was the most in an NBA game this season, topping Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who had 52 points earlier in the season. His 11 buckets from behind the arc fell just short of the NBA record of 12 made 3-pointers, and he became the seventh Knicks’ opponent to torch them for 50-plus points since 2006.
Woodson was “impressed” with the mind-boggling numbers, but ultimately he said he’ll take the win over an incredible single-game performance any day.
“We trapped him, but he beat our traps by shooting before we could get there. We didn’t play great defense on him, because for the most part he had his way. He had a phenomenal game,” Woodson said. “But our guys hung in there and made enough defensive plays to secure the win.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.