Hearing your coach tell the media that you’ve “never played better” following a monstrous 57-point fireworks show suggests your might be basking in the glory of a victory.
However, for Steph Curry, that was not the case on Saturday. Despite his heroic effort against the Dallas Mavericks, he was on the losing end in the Golden State Warriors’ 134-132 defeat in Dallas.
The three-time NBA champion delved deep into his bag of tricks throughout, with his proficiency from three-point range his preferred weapon of choice. He finished with 11.
And while he’s turned in many stellar performances throughout his excellent career, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who’s coached Curry since joining in 2014, says he’s not seen the 32-year-old play better, calling his appearance on Saturday “sublime.”
“We’re talking about a two-time MVP, three-time champion,” he told the media.
“I’ve never seen him like this. He just looks so strong to me. He’s obviously always been an incredible shooter, but he looks stronger to me just getting by people, fending them off on drives to the rim, finish, and of course the shot-making. It’s almost unfathomable what he’s doing out there.”
Despite Curry recording his eighth career 50-point game (his second this season), it was the 42 points from Luka Doncic that proved the difference. But even after the win, the Slovenian had nothing but admiration for his opponent.
“Every time he shot the ball, I thought it was going in,” Doncic said in a postgame interview with ESPN.
When Kerr’s assessment of Curry’s game was put to him, the six-time All-Star said his health is allowing him to play at this high level.
“I feel strong,” Curry said. “I feel like I got a good rhythm. And obviously, coming off of last year, I’m just enjoying being back out there and being healthy.
“So definitely feel in control of my game, learning with my team as we continue to try and get better and build some momentum this season. It’s kind of a weird year. I’m playing well, and we’re getting better as a team; just we got to get those wins stacked up and then we can all feel a little bit better about ourselves.”
The defeat means the Warriors slipped to 12-11 for this season, while the Mavericks improve to 10-14.
And Curry wasn’t the only superstar who was probably left feeling slightly bittersweet on Saturday night.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 50 points against the Sacramento Kings, but, like Curry, his efforts proved in vain as the injury-hit Nuggets were defeated 119-114 by the in-form Kings.
“Nikola goes out and does his job,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “He doesn’t care. We lost the game. That’s all he’s going to care about.”
It meant that the NBA had two 50-point scorers in losing efforts on the same day for only the third time in league history.
Jokic became the first center to record at least 50 points and 10 assists in a single game since Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on January 19, 1975.
The big Serbian has taken yet another step up this season, with many throwing his hat into the ring in the Most Valuable Player race, alongside LeBron James and Joel Embiid.