Curry embracing roar of crowds in record-breaking quest

Dec 13, 2021, 9:27 AM | Updated: 11:29 pm
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives the ball past the defense of Indiana Pacers g...

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives the ball past the defense of Indiana Pacers guard Kelan Martin (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Stephen Curry hears the roaring crowds everywhere he travels these days.

His pursuit of the NBA’s career 3-point record has created warm and fuzzy environments for the Golden State Warriors at each stop. Fans want to see history, and they want to see the 33-year-old Curry break Ray Allen’s career 3-point record in person.

Yet among those he calls friends and foes around the league, Curry knows there’s a very different feeling. They want to challenge the soon-to-be 3-point king.

“Yeah, you hear a little bit of everything,” Curry said after Monday’s 102-100 victory at Indiana. “I saw what Joel (Embiid) said the other day in his postgame. I know teams are coming out and making sure it’s not going to happen against them, especially when it’s 16 or 10 or seven. But I won’t get this again, and once you get over the mountaintop, it’s just how far you can push it.”

Opponents have delayed Curry’s quest about as long as possible.

After making five 3s, scoring 26 points and rallying the Warriors to a victory Monday, Curry needs one more 3 to tie Allen’s mark of 2,973, and two to surpass on the grand stage of Madison Square Garden. Ticket prices have reportedly quadrupled on the secondary market, and Reggie Miller, who held the record until Allen broke it in February 2011, is expected to call the game for TNT.

But reaching this point seemed unlikely when critics deemed the 6-foot-2 college star as a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body. They questioned his size, his shot selection, even whether he could make a successful transition from Davidson to the NBA.

Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce got an up-close experience when he worked with Curry during his second pro season.

“It’s funny when you were around him during that year there were some games he was like 1 for 10 or 1 for 11 and you know everyone that goes up looks good,” Pierce said. “He liked to shoot on the gun back then and I was like, ‘What are you doing, you’re just coming into the league. You need bodies on you, you need to work.’ That was one thing we did, was always have a body on him.”

Curry wasn’t like anyone else, though.

Nobody could match his prolific shooting beyond the arc and Curry spawned imitators leaguewide as teams relied on analytics that suggested they would score more points if they attempted more 3s instead of long 2s. Curry starts Tuesday night with 6,889 career 3-point attempts compared with 6,935 2-pointers.

Brooklyn’s James Harden is second among active players and fourth all-time with 2,509 3s, and 13 of the top 30 players on the 3-point list are still active.

It took Miller 1,389 games to set the NBA record of 2,560. Allen needed 309 fewer games to pass Miller, and now Curry is on the precipice after playing 788 career games.

But even Warriors coach Steve Kerr can see it’s taking a toll and All-Star forward Draymond Green is hoping the record-breaker comes quickly Tuesday night so things can get back to normal.

“Everybody wants to see the record broken, so it’s not just our fans,” Green said. “I’m sure it will be electric (in New York). Hopefully, he makes the first two 3s he shoots in the first quarter and then that’s it.”

Curry sure hasn’t looked like his usually proficient self the last three games.

On Wednesday, Curry was 6 of 17 on 3s in his final home game before embarking on a five-game trip. He went 3 of 14 behind the arc in a rare loss Saturday to the 76ers and his brother, Seth. Then Monday, he was 5 of 15 with his last errant 3 leading to the winning putback — even though he didn’t tie Allen.

“I think he’s been trying a little bit too hard the last few games, just trying to make 3s and get to this record,” Kerr said. “It’ll be a relief for him, I think, and for our team when he does break it.”

And for Curry, who said he wanted to play for the Knicks before Golden State took him No. 7 overall in 2009 long before he won two MVP Awards and three NBA titles in four years, it’s an experience he wants to savor.

“I appreciate it, it’s a blessing to play at this level,” he said. “This is part of history and it’s a different vibe when you’re on the road and you get that kind of reaction. It’s a special time.”

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Curry embracing roar of crowds in record-breaking quest