NEW ORLEANS — After Stephen Curry let it fly from 31 feet for his seventh made 3-pointer of the night, he crouched at mid-court and punctuated his latest memorable performance by punching his chest once with both fists.
Curry scored 42 points in 30 minutes and the Golden State Warriors improved to 3-0 on the road with a 130-102 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
And it sounded like many of the fans in New Orleans who’d been waiting more than two years for Curry to play again in their city got their money’s worth, even if it came at their own team’s expense. They let out collective, awestruck “oooohs,” after some of Curry’s deep 3s and some even cheered.
“When the game kind of turns up like that and the home crowd enjoys the entertainment value and good basketball and the show, I feed off of it becae love playing basketball and being in that environment,” Curry said. “But it’s not like any type of message. Jt hooping.”
Chris Paul scored 13 points off the bench, leading Golden State on a 13-1 run at the end of the third quarter that gave the Warriors a 98-78 lead.
“It’s incredible to bring Chris Paul off the bench as your back-up point guard,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s still playing at an incredibly high level. It changes everything when you can start a game off with Steph Curry and then bring Chris with a great second unit into the game.”
Zion Williamson helped New Orleans keep it close in the first half, but got into foul trouble in the third quarter. He finished with 19 points as the Pelicans lost for the first time this season after opening with a pair of victories.
A combination of injuries and load management had sidelined Curry for games in New Orleans in recent seasons becae they often were scheduled as the second of back-to-back games.
This latest trip to New Orleans also was the second of back-to-back games after Curry had scored 24 to lead the Warriors past Hoton.
But the Pelicans were the team chasing from behind.
“They played more physical than , they played faster than ,” Williamson said. “They’re a championship culture and for them to do that on the second of a back-to-back, that’s respect.”
When Curry was introduced as a starter, he received a loud, enthiastic ovation. He then opened the game with 11 points in the first 4:02, including a pair of 25-foot 3s.
“Hey, you wanted to see him, New Orleans,” Pelicans radio play-by-play announcer Todd Graffagnini exclaimed as one of the long early 3s went down. “Be careful what you wish for.”
Curry shot 15 of 22 overall and 5 of 7 on free throws. His 3s included a 29-footer and a couple from 25 feet. Fans also responded appreciatively to his off-balance rainbow from the baseline near the left corner.
“He’s white hot. It’s amazing watching him,” Kerr said. “I mean, he looks better than ever at 35.”
CJ McCollum scored 19 for New Orleans and Jordan Hawkins, a first-round draft choice out of Connecticut, scored 12 points.
Each team scratched one of their top scorers. Golden State guard Klay Thompson and Pelicans wing Brandon Ingram were ruled out before the game with right knee soreness. Warriors forward Janthan Kuminga (left knee) also didn’t play.
Paul, a 2005 New Orleans first-round draft choice who on Sunday had come of the bench for the first time in his career after 1,365 starts, played a reserve role for a second straight night, even though Thompson was scratched. Instead, Kerr gave Moses Moody his 15th career start and he scored 13 points.
Image credits: AP