HOUSTON – Stephen Curry capped a subpar January with an offensive masterpiece Monday night against the Houston Rockets that served as a reminder of just how dangerous he can be.
He scored 21 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 122-108 win.
Much had been made about his shooting slump, and his average this month entering Monday's game had fallen more than six points from the 27.6 points he averaged in December. All the talk didn't bother the superstar, because he said nobody is harder on him than he is on himself.
“It’s the gift and the curse of the bar that you’ve set," he said. “You get all the praise when things are going well and obviously it’s something to talk about when I don’t meet that level.
“It’s not so much the commentary, because when I walk off the court I’m the first one to judge the way that I played," he continued. “And I understand when I don’t meet that level and try to deal with the frustration when that happens over a consistent period of time."
Curry sparked the Warriors to their sixth consecutive win, while Houston extended its skid at home to 11 straight games.
The Warriors were clinging to a four-point lead in the fourth when Curry scored the next five points to make it 113-104 with four minutes left. He made a basket in the lane before hitting a 3 from the corner to allow Golden State to pull away.
“We’ve seen Steph do that a million times," coach Steve Kerr said. “It was bound to happen even though it’s been a couple of weeks or whatever. Not surprising but fun to see ... him shake free and have a game like he did."
Curry made seven 3-pointers, with four in the fourth quarter, and had nine assists and five rebounds. His 21 fourth-quarter points were the highest of his career.
He knew he was in a zone in the fourth quarter but said that he always feels like he's capable of getting hot like he did.
“You always feel like the next shot is going to start that vibe," he said. “It's no secret how I've been shooting the ball recently, but the confidence is always there and it only takes one to ignite a night like that."
Curry's performance comes after he hit a buzzer-beater to give the Warriors a 105-103 win over the Rockets on Jan. 21.
“I told him after the game that I’m tired of seeing him,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said of his postgame chat with Curry. “I don’t want to see him anymore.”
Andrew Wiggins added 23 points for the Warriors and Klay Thompson had 14.
The Rockets, who lost their fourth straight game overall, were led by Christian Wood’s 24 points and 13 rebounds. He had a great first half, piling up 17 points, but cooled down after the break.
Despite Houston's struggles this season, Silas has been encouraged by the attitude his young team has shown.
“There’s been very, very few times I haven’t felt like we played hard and very, very few times where I felt like we haven’t had fight," he said. “Our character and our grit show up pretty much every night."
A 10-3 spurt by the Rockets, capped by a 3 from Garrison Mathews, got them within five points with about eight minutes to left in the game. Houston cut it to four on a another 3 by Mathews later in the fourth, but Curry scored five quick points to extend it to 108-99 with less than six minutes remaining.
But the Rockets scored the next five points, with a 3 from Kevin Porter Jr., to cut it to four again.
Houston got within three in the third quarter before Curry took over. Golden State had a lead of 74-65 with about five minutes left in the period. Porter made a shot for Houston, but Golden State responded with the next 11 points. Then Houston rediscovered its offense for an 11-2 run and was down 87-78 entering the fourth.
Warriors: Nemanja Bjelica missed a second straight game with back spasms. ... Jonathan Kuminga received a flagrant 1 foul after hitting Alperen Sengun in the face while fighting for a loose ball early in the fourth quarter. ... Golden State has scored at least 110 points in four straight games.
Rockets: Porter returned after sitting out Friday with an illness and had 17 points and 11 assists. ... Josh Christopher scored 13 points off the bench. ... Eric Gordon had 12.
THEY SAID IT
Kerr when asked what he thought about Porter trash-talking Curry: “I didn’t notice that at all, but I highly encourage it."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans, Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson were among the celebrities sitting courtside Monday night.
Warriors: Visit San Antonio Tuesday night.
Rockets: Host Cleveland Wednesday night.
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