Overtime is the ultimate crucible of basketball: five tense minutes, with the game potentially turning on every possession.
Stephen Curry on Monday scored more points in an overtime period than any other player in NBA history. And he did it in the playoffs, after missing four games with a knee injury.
“I figured he’d find his stroke (and) make a few shots,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr was quoted as saying in a post on his team’s Twitter feed, “but I mean, that was crazy.”
The signs were not initially auspicious. Curry was 2 for 13 from three-point range in regulation after coming off the bench against the Portland Trail Blazers, and he looked rusty.
Things improved late. Curry was 0 for his first 9 from three-point range, but then hit a long three with 4 1/2 minutes left and had some good assists in the fourth quarter. He missed a running one-hander that would have won it in the final moments of regulation, but Warriors fans had reason to hope he would be back in form for overtime.
Here’s what followed from Curry, who won his second consecutive MVP award Tuesday:
4:26 remaining – After a miss by C.J. McCollum for Portland, Curry brings the ball up. A pick by Festus Ezeli helps free him to drive for an easy 11-foot jump shot. The Warriors lead by 113-111, but Curry is far from done.
3:20 – Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee scored for Portland, and the Warriors are down 3. That doesn’t last long. Curry makes a three-pointer from near the top of the key to tie the score at 116-116.
2:40 – McCollum had put the Blazers back on top. Harrison Barnes misses, but Curry is right under the basket for a rebound and a quick putback to tie the score at 118-118. Curry has averaged less than one offensive rebound a game throughout his career.
2:20 – Draymond Green steals the ball from Damian Lillard, leading to an easy layup for Curry. The Warriors take a lead they will not relinquish, going up 120-118.
1:51 – The killer. McCollum misses again, and Curry lopes down the court and bombs in a 26-foot pullup jumper for three. At this point, he has scored all 12 of Golden State’s points in overtime. The score is 123-118.
1:05 – After making just two three-pointers in regulation, Curry hits his third of the five-minute overtime period, a 25-footer with Aminu in his face this time: 128-120.
0:52 – Curry’s layup is blocked by Lillard. It is the only shot he misses in overtime. The score remains 128-120.
0:18 – Curry caps the record-setting 17-point performance with two free throws to make the score 131-123. The previous record was held by the Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas, who scored 16 in overtime during a 2006 regular-season matchup against the Lakers in which he scored 60 total.
Final score Monday night – 132-125, and the Warriors took a 3-1 series lead back to Oakland in the best-of-seven series. Curry finished with 40 points.