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Explain One Quarter: Stephen Curry's casual 28-point third quarter

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Come on, son. Video breakdown of Curry's 28 point third quarter from the Warriors' win against the Hornets on Dec 2nd, 2015.

I got the win, my dad got a day, I got to heat check, it was a good day.
I got the win, my dad got a day, I got to heat check, it was a good day.
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that character can sure score in a hurry, huh? This is a walkthrough of Stephen Curry's 28 points in the third quarter. The original plan was for me to just comment on all his scores with "Come on, son!" in larger and larger font. But as I went through film, it turns out Curry was actually very responsible through the first ten minutes of the quarter. (Notice I didn't say the whole twelve minutes.)  We also trace the blossoming bromance between Kemba Walker and Cody Zeller.

Curry Driving Layup Shot: Made (2 PTS) 10:11  [GSW 65-55]

Well, Steph gets a pass on the wing, guarded by Kemba Walker #15. Walker plays Curry very close, as in quite-literally-breathing-down-his-jersey close. No one is helping, so Curry basically has to drive on Kemba. He notices Marvin Williams is standing nearby, so like a Jackie Chan movie, Curry uses Williams as a screen against his teammate Kemba. Then Curry runs right by Cody Zeller #40 for a layup. Zeller needs to step over to stop the Curry layup. Yes, he may dump off to Bogut, but make Curry make the pass, make Bogut make the layup.

Did You Notice: You can tell Kemba agrees with me, because he starts screaming at his teammates (i.e. Zeller) for not helping on the drive.

Curry Driving Layup Shot: Made (4 PTS) 08:14  [GSW 67-55]

The first option is Klay Thompson on the left side, curling around a screen from Green. But Batum follows closely and Zeller steps up under the basket to cover Klay's dive. So Curry's simple ball fake gets Kemba in the air, and he explodes by him, behind Batum's back as Klay drags him to the arc, and past Zeller who appears to have been paid to never leave Bogut like The Bodyguard in that Whitney Houston movie.

What a beautiful finish from Curry. He has really improved his finishes at the rim in the last couple of years. It was once a mild weakness, and now he's at the top of the league in finishing at the rim, rivaled only by brute-force dunkers like Deandre Jordan.

Curry 3 Free Throws (7 PTS) 07:26  [GSW 70-55]

Pop Quiz, what is this play?

Yes, it's the Warriors' favorite play, the Curry-Green high pick and roll. (Previous discussion here.) Curry gets Kemba up in the air for three, Kemba stumbles into Curry. Curry nearly automatic with three free throws. And now as moving dots (starts at 7:33).

Curry Driving Layup Shot: Made (9 PTS) 04:55  [GSW 74-64]

Hey, it's another play we've talked about  Advanced Quiz: Do you recognize it?

It's the Fake Warriors Rip into a Floppy. (Previous coverage here.) So it starts like a standard Warriors play they ran earlier this game where Curry will screen for Draymond Green at the elbow, who will cut to the basket. But instead, they flow into a Floppy for Curry where he runs out and uses a Andrew Bogut screen to get the ball. Kemba Walker nicely keeps up with Curry, who then resets and drives, using Kemba's own teammate, Zeller AGAIN as a screen, and gets the layup.

Did You Notice: the death rays pouring out of Kemba's eyes at Zeller after the play. He clearly disagrees with Zeller's Ayn Randian no-help policy on Curry's drives.

You can see in dot form how Curry #30 fakes towards #23 as if to start the Rip play and tears out the other side.

Curry 3pt Shot: Made (12 PTS) 03:59  [GSW 77-64]

Curry and Green pick and roll on the left sideline. The standard book on Curry is to trap him with a double team on the sideline. Hornets double Curry with the buddy-cop movie Kemba and His Big. Curry slyly passes to Green. Notice what a good basketball play that behind-the-back flair is; it probably gets Green an extra second of space. Green clanks the shot.

Bogut sneaks around away from Zeller to get the rebound. Kemba is in no-man's land. Curry is very open. He is so open he has time to check his feet and reminisce about all the great 3's he's hit from that left corner. Remember that great one to send Pelicans Game 3 into OT? Anyway, swish.

Did You Notice: Kemba Walker's body language on the rebound is distilled despair. Also, after this clip, Kemba and His Bigs have wacky adventures together and hug it out.

Also: save10 points out that Bogut runs back on D as soon as he passes to the open Curry, 100% sure he will make the shot.

Curry Running Layup Shot: Made (14 PTS) 02:34  [GSW 79-66]

That's just a masterful steal by Andre Iguodala.  Am I spoiled for being disappointed that Curry didn't dunk?

Curry 3pt Shot: Made (17 PTS) 01:53  [GSW 82-66]

This is a simple play that starts with Motion Strong (skipped in my video clip because I'm getting tired) and ends with Andre Iguodala feeding Curry coming around a firm away screen from Green. It's all the space needed for the fastest shot in the game.

A lot of basic action in the Warriors offense involves Curry and Klay curling off-ball around a screen getting a well chosen pass.

Here it is abstractly. You can see the Motion Strong look with the three passing the ball across the top. (Previous discussion here.)

Curry 3pt Shot: Made (20 PTS) 01:29  [GSW 85-68]

COME ON, SON. There are four defenders between you and the basket. There are two people contesting your shot. You are four feet behind the line. Does it seem like a good idea to jack up a three? DOES IT?

COME ON, SON!! WHAT ARE YOU DO-- okay, good shot good shot.

Notice how Kemba Walker scored but ended up on the ground, so Curry could run out quickly after the made basket without his defender.

Curry Driving Layup Shot: Made (22 PTS) 00:58.3  [GSW 87-70]

Okay, you're Kemba Walker. Curry has just jacked up a ridiculous shot from the side logo. Do you embrace the madness? Yes, so Kemba closes out to Curry all the way out to the side logo.

So Curry fakes his favorite play with Draymond Green. (What is it...?  Yes, the high pick and roll with Draymond. Previous discussion here.) But instead of going middle to use the Green screen, he crosses over and holds down right trigger to use Turbo and blows by Kemba (who is not slow) and is met at the basket by Spencer Hawes #00 who is so mesmerized by Turbo Curry that he literally forgets to jump to contest the floating layup.

Curry 3pt Shot: Made (25 PTS)  00:33.3  [GSW 90-70]

This is a sweet quick hitter that's the same basic action as 1:53 above with a twist. Curry comes off a high away screen by Festus Ezeli, gets a quick pass and he is locked in with double bullseye powers. Splash.  Notice how the play began with Shaun Livingston running Jeremy Lin into Kemba Walker, giving Curry an extra step to use the screen to get away from him.

Dots:

Curry 3pt Shot: Made (28 PTS) 00:03.1  [GSW 93-72]

COME ON, SON!

Welp.

Even the dot diagram looks arrogant.


Extra Thoughts

  • And that's how you score 28 points in a quarter while only really trying for about two minutes at the end.  Can you imagine how many points this guy could score if he just gunned with no conscience all game?
  • The amazing thing is that except for two Come On Son 3's, he got all his points within the normal Warriors offensive scheme. He just was really really efficient.
  • 11 pts in last 1:29. Prorated over the whole quarter, that would be 88 points in the quarter. Which is a lot.
  • Here's a more normal NBA.com highlights package of Curry's 28.
  • Here's an awesome (probably soon to be banned) Dawk Ins highlights package. Key moments: Kemba's screaming at his teammates "Where the Funk is the help at?"(1:35), Dell Curry complaining that Sonya took off his commemorative Charlotte gear and put her Warriors gear on. (4:36)

When asked if he gets amazed by his own recent performances, Curry said, "You don't expect to make six out of six in the third quarter. But the shots that I take -- I say this all the time -- are the ones I practice, ones I've taken plenty of times. You expect to make them."

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