The Golden State Warriors entered Monday’s matchup against the Atlanta Hawks with the best record in the NBA. Working on a four-game winning streak, the Warriors hoped to keep their winning ways going against one of their biggest challenges of the season. After reaching the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Hawks came into Chase Center looking to bounce back from a tough loss in Phoenix on Saturday.
On the second half of their first back-to-back of the season, the Warriors turned to Stephen Curry to carry them to victory. Curry scored the Warriors first 10 points and put them ahead 10-3. Then, Chase Center stood still for a moment.
Chasing Bogdan Bogdanovic around a screen, Curry appeared to jam his left arm against the Hawks guard. Running back the next possession, Curry was favoring his arm heavily. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr quickly called timeout, and Curry met with team trainers. Luckily, the star guard avoided any serious injury and was able to remain in the game. In his postgame press conference, Curry revealed that he jammed his shoulder but did not feel a need to seek treatment after the game.
Steph Curry on his shoulder: "Got jammed on a screen.... Just a little tweak, it's fine."— Joe Viray (@JoeVirayNBA) November 9, 2021
Says he didn't get treatment after.
While Curry stayed on the floor, his hot start dissipated. Atlanta went on a 9-0 run and slowly began building a lead. Kerr once again brought Curry to the bench halfway through the first quarter for Gary Payton II. With Trae Young leading the Hawks attack, Payton’s excellent perimeter defense was an ideal matchup. However, for the first time this season, Payton was on the wrong side of a highlight.
Payton was still excellent defensively against Young, but it reminded Warriors fans of one tried and true NBA reality: great offense beats great defense. Still, Payton did not get phased by Young’s early success. The Oregon State alum fouled out and finished with just two points, but he was a pain in Atlanta’s side all night, recording three steals.
Kerr gave rookie Jonathan Kuminga his first rotation minutes on Monday, filling in for Otto Porter Jr. He entered the game with the Warriors trailing 29-22 and had the best stretch of the early part of his NBA career. Kuminga did not fill the stat sheet, but he impacted a shot in transition, drew a foul, and fit into the Dubs offense.
Limited to garbage time this season, Kuminga has had to take over when he’s played. However, the rookie seemed to adapt quite well to a more secondary role. The Dubs outscored Atlanta 10-5 in the rookie’s stint.
Despite starting the second quarter with Curry, the Hawks stretched their lead to 11. While Steph stayed on the floor after his injury scare, he went 1-for-5 from the field after his hot start. Atlanta found some offensive success working inside-out while the Warriors struggled to generate offense with Curry slumping.
Young’s offensive abilities were on full display in the first half. His penetration forced the Warriors to help more aggressively, leaving several other Hawks open. While Young racked up 21 points in the first two quarters, fellow starters John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanović finished the first half 10-for-13 from the field (4-for-6 from three) with 28 points.
For a moment, it seemed like Atlanta had a chance to put the game away in the first half. However, when Curry re-entered for the final minutes of the second quarter, he sparked a 17-6 Warriors run to close the half. Steph knocked in two threes, a pair of free throws, and recorded two assists in just a few minutes. While the Hawks lead once reached 15, the Dubs trailed just 65-61 at halftime.
Both teams came out firing in an exciting start to the third quarter. The Warriors eventually tied the game at 75 before finally retaking the lead. Still, the Hawks kept things close. Golden State led 83-82 with 5:14 left in the quarter before the Dubs put together another classic third-quarter explosion.
Who else but Curry could be leading the charge? In one 70-second stretch, Curry singlehandedly went on a 10-0 run before he found Juan Toscano-Anderson for the exclamation point three in the final seconds of the quarter. Just like that, the Warriors were leading 102-85 heading into the fourth quarter.
Atlanta’s offense was stuffed in the second half. While they shot 41% from three, they committed 13 turnovers and were unable to build any offensive momentum. After their fantastic first half, Collins and Bogdanović went 1-for-5 from three in the second half and scored just eight points.
The Hawks, of course, remained a threat to make it a game early in the fourth quarter, but when they cut the lead to 14 in the fourth, Damion Lee answered with a three. The Warriors made two straight stops on the ensuing possessions, and the result was settled. All that was left to wonder was how many points Curry would amass.
(DJ Khaled Voice)— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 9, 2021
ANOTHA ONE pic.twitter.com/7OpzYQ2I6r
Curry finished with one of the best all-around stat lines of his career. He amassed 50 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, a blocked shot, and just two turnovers while shooting 50% from the field, 47.4% from three, and 100% from the free-throw line. A 50-point scoring night is always noteworthy, but Curry did it with such an efficient, well-rounded performance that it gave him another entry in the NBA history books.
I can't believe we're already at the "The oldest player in history to..." stage of Steph Curry's career... https://t.co/e3nRzU6KIF— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) November 9, 2021
Buster Posey’s surprising retirement last week was a huge reminder for Bay Area sports fans how abruptly pro careers come to an end. I don’t think anyone is taking Stephen Curry for granted, but as the Warriors legend continues doing incredible things on the court, we should all be making sure to enjoy just how amazing he can be.