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Stephen Curry is more than a shooter

The reigning MVP point guard was throwing bricks left and right in the first half. But the team still performed considerably better with his mere presence on the court.

Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks
Stephen Curry protecting the ball against Carmelo Anthony.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The music was off at Madison Square Garden during the first half of the Warriors-Knicks game and, for the third straight game, so was Stephen Curry’s shot. After missing all four of his first-quarter threes, Curry was an abysmal 4-of-35 from beyond the arc in the entire road trip up to that point.

Curry is often incorrectly labeled “just a shooter.” However, he positively affects the game in other areas despite throwing up bricks. Klay Thompson was the beneficiary of some open looks due to the defensive attention Curry drew. Thompson, who has also been off the mark on this road trip, scored 14 points in the first quarter and knocked down a couple of treys.

“Did a good job of attacking early,” Thompson said. “Opens up everything for me.”

The Warriors were up nine after Curry played the entire first quarter, but they couldn’t score when he went to the bench. Earlier in the season, there were concerns over the Warriors’ lack of scoring off the bench. Having Durant anchor the second unit helped mitigate the problem, but he’s out for at least a month. Shaun Livingston’s magic touch on turnaround shots from last year has escaped him, going 0-4 in this one. Patrick McCaw wasn’t aggressive once again, and the Warriors saw their lead dissolve in the second quarter.

According to Draymond Green, the quiet arena contributed to the players playing sluggishly in the first half.

“Did you see that first half? It was just bad, sloppy, all over the place. There was no rhythm to the game. All of that stuff makes a difference, believe it or not. You get rhythm. That’s why when guys go in and work out at night, you turn on music.”

When Curry returned to the court midway through the second quarter, his shot was still nowhere to be found. Yet, his mere presence continued to have a positive impact on the team. Coach Steve Kerr has received a lot of flack for not involving Curry in more pick-and-rolls, but man is he charming. Curry eventually turned his bad shooting night around, but not before Kerr expressed how valuable he is to the team.

“That's your shooting totals, that’s your plus-minus ... So, it’s not always tied together. You’re doing great stuff out there. The tempo is so different when you’re out there. Everything you generate for us is so positive. It shows up here but not always there, but it always shows up there. You’re doing great. Carry on my son.”

At that point in the game, Curry was a plus-15 despite shooting 3-11. He went on to hit two 3s in the final minutes of the second quarter as the Warriors headed into halftime down by one. With the music returning in the second half, so did Curry’s shot as he once again went off in the third quarter. He scored 15 points in the period, highlighted by a spin move around Kristaps Porzingis for a nifty layup.

The bench unit struggled to score again at the start of the fourth quarter, which is something that may continue to haunt the Warriors. When Curry was on the bench, the team got outscored by 15 points. The lead was down to one, but the Splash Brothers checked in and buried the Knicks with a flurry of deep shots.

The dagger, delivered by Curry, came with about a minute left in the game — when he crossed over Melo and stepped back into a long two. It was Curry’s 31st point of the game. He made five of his last nine 3s to help prevent Golden State from losing three games in a row for the first time in four years.

Here’s to hoping the Warriors won’t have to play in a silent arena again anytime soon.

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