Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry is always in game-on mode

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry is always in game-on mode
Golden State guard Stephen Curry stares down the crowd at Houston after hitting a three-point shot during the third quarter of the Warriors' 115-80 win over the Rockets. (Nhat V. Meyer / Tribune News Service)

There's a game Stephen Curry plays after practice with his coach, the most accurate three-point shooter in NBA history.

It's from the free-throw line, not the arc, because Steve Kerr will turn 50 in a few months and Curry is, um, nowhere near that.

Two points are awarded for a swished free throw, one for an ordinary make and none for a miss. The game ends at 10 points, the winner declared with the fewest free throws.

At one point this season, as the games started to accrue, Kerr was on a run of one missed free throw out of about 30. He still hadn't won a game.


"You get more points for the swish. Steph was just swishing all of them," said Luke Walton, a Golden State Warriors assistant coach.


It's become a theme for the NBA's most valuable player as Golden State closes in on a sweep of the Houston Rockets. He plays a game, he wins it, regardless of importance.


He was so sublime Saturday in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals that one of his offensive rebounds made ESPN's top-10 plays of the day. Yes, a rebound.

"It better have been No. 10. It's a stretch," Curry said Sunday when told about it.

He had boxed out Rockets center Dwight Howard on the play, one of many he executed with perfection in the Warriors' 115-80 victory.

His more known expertise, long-distance shooting, was also on display as he made seven of nine shots from three-point range and blew past Reggie Miller's record for three-pointers in a playoff season.

Miller had 58 three pointers in 22 playoff games for Indiana in 2000. Curry has 64 in 13 games over the last five weeks. Game 4 in the West finals is Monday in Houston.

Curry humbly brushes off comparisons to the greatest shooters of all time — Larry Bird? Reggie Miller? Ray Allen? — because you get the feeling the headline in his mind has only two words: Too soon.

He hasn't been to the NBA Finals in his six-year career and is only 27. The Warriors haven't won a championship since Rick Barry took them there in 1975.

Then again, Curry was the reason for the "Helpless Feeling" banner headline in the Houston Chronicle, complete with a photo of the downtrodden Rockets bench toward the end of Game 3.

Not that he notices, trying to stay away from TV sports programming these days and disengaging from Twitter other than sending out his oft-repeated mantra of "Lock in!" on game days.

"It feels normal, really. I feel comfortable, I feel ready for the moment, able to kind of block out the extra-curricular stuff that can distract you from the focus on the court," Curry said Sunday.

Reporters are doing their best to distract him. It's that fun to watch Curry on the court and then probe him about being one of the best ever. He gives thoughtful answers, respectfully, even including a family member.

"There's some great names that you mention in that conversation, guys that I looked up to when I was coming up — Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Mark Price, my dad," he said, referring to former NBA sharp-shooter Dell Curry. "All those guys have the longevity factor that I hope to have in my career."

There's another game Curry plays after practice, more of an individual one. He typically takes 100 three-point shots in around-the-world format — 10 from five spots around the arc and then repeating the process. Last month, he made 94 out of 100, and in the bury-the-lead category, made 77 in a row.

There were no defenders. No belligerent crowds imploring him to fail. Just a player repeating the same thing he does on basketball courts in the summer, when nobody else is watching or caring.

Last month, he broke his record for three-pointers in a season (286) and in January made 1,000 career three-pointers faster than anybody else, getting there in 88 games fewer than former standard-bearer Dennis Scott.

The Warriors have arrived, one game from their first NBA Finals trip in four decades. So too has Curry, not a moment too soon for Warriors fans.

"It's easy for us to stay hungry because none of us have really experienced this before or accomplished really anything," he said. "My first three years, we didn't taste the playoffs — just sitting at home, April 15, watching TV and wondering what it's like."

Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan