NBA

Steph Curry 'the greatest sixth man ever' after 34 points in 23 minutes

By Sports Desk April 19, 2022

Steph Curry was hailed as the "greatest sixth man ever in the playoffs" after a 34-point performance from the bench that made that case.

Two-time NBA MVP Curry is working his way back from a foot injury and has been kept out of the Golden State Warriors' lineup for their first two games against the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

The Warriors have won both, though, and Curry had a huge role to play in Game 2, scoring 34 points in just 23 minutes on 12-of-17 shooting to earn a plus/minus of 32.

"Jesus," said Draymond Green when he looked at the stat sheet. "Steph plus-32... that's incredible. Wow."

It was only Curry's fourth playoff appearance from the bench, and his 34 points still fell short of the 40 he scored against the Portland Trail Blazers in his first such appearance in 2016 – the most by any player coming off the bench in the postseason since at least 1985-86.

He has averaged 29.5 points across those four games, another record over that period.

The performance against the Blazers came in 37 minutes, however, with this latest display against the Nuggets the best performance by a bench player in 25 minutes or fewer. Only Paul George – 35 against the Dallas Mavericks in 2020 – has scored more in 25 playoff minutes as a starter.

"I'm back," Curry bellowed at one stage, later explaining: "In the first game, I didn't really feel normal, like I had the real flow. Then the first half [of Game 2] I had a little pep in my step and my body felt good.

"I was able to get to some spots, and when you make certain shots, it feels a little different. It feels a little bit more normal and more emotion comes out. It was a nice feeling."

Meanwhile, Jordan Poole, starting in Curry's place, followed up his 30 points in Game 1 with 29 in Game 2. Klay Thompson added 21.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said: "You have three guys that are capable of putting up 30, 40 points.

"Jordan Poole had 30 points in Game 1, he had 29 tonight. Steph Curry is the greatest sixth man ever in the playoffs. They bring a guy off the bench like that, 34 points, five threes... and then Klay Thompson."

The Warriors have an issue now, Green acknowledges, working out how to get all three guards into the same lineup.

"We're not going to keep Steph in the sixth man role, forget that," he said. "But saying that, ultimately, Jordan is probably going to have to start, too.

"Ultimately, we've got to figure a bunch of stuff out. It's a good problem to have, a great problem to have."

Green was happy to let Steve Kerr "figure that one out", but the coach is very pleased with Curry's attitude to returning to action on the bench.

"Steph is Steph," Kerr said. "You don't need to sell him on anything.

"He's very unique. He's incredibly humble and incredibly arrogant on the floor – humble off the floor, arrogant on the floor. It's a great combination. Anything that is going to help the team he's all for."

Related items

  • Wimbledon: Sinner labels Alcaraz triumph one of his best after sinking Spanish star's hopes Wimbledon: Sinner labels Alcaraz triumph one of his best after sinking Spanish star's hopes

    Jannik Sinner said his win over Carlos Alcaraz ranked among the highlights of his young career after reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals with an impressive 6-1 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 victory.

    The 20-year-old Italian converted his sixth match point of an enthralling encounter on Centre Court to reach his third grand slam quarter-final.

    The contest had been billed as a clash between two of the sport's future superstars, with their combined age the lowest in a fourth-round grand slam match since Juan Martin del Potro faced Kei Nishikori at the 2008 US Open.

    At 19 years and 66 days old, Alcaraz had become the youngest male player to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon since 2011, and Sinner was keen to credit his opponent after a battle which lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

    "First of all, Carlos is a very tough opponent and a very nice person, so it's always a huge pleasure for me to play against him," Sinner said.

    "Today was such a great crowd and especially today, 100 years [since Centre Court opened]… it's just amazing.

    "It's tough when you have match point and you still have to play. It's part of the game, part of tennis, and obviously I'm very happy with how I reacted.

    "I'm very happy to be in the next round, and hopefully I can play some good tennis also in the next round."

    Sinner, who boasts a 5-0 record against Spanish players in 2022, was asked where the triumph ranked among the best moments of his career.

    He said: "In the top list, for sure. I didn't expect it because I was not playing so well on the grass.

    "Then match after match I was better, I won my first grass-court match here in the first round, and now I'm here in the quarter-finals. I tried to adapt myself and the crowd helps me a lot."

    Sinner had previously lost four fourth-round meetings with top-10 players at grand slams, being beaten by Alexander Zverev at the 2020 French Open and 2021 US Open, Rafael Nadal at the 2021 French Open, and Andrey Rublev at Roland Garros last month.

    Sinner also improved his 2022 record against top-10 opponents to 2-5 with the victory, with his only previous win coming against Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters.

  • India recover from Bairstow century to build commanding third-day lead over England India recover from Bairstow century to build commanding third-day lead over England

    India recovered from Jonny Bairstow clinching yet another century to finish an eventful third day of the fourth Test against England with a healthy 257-run lead.

    Bairstow led a fine England counter in a thrilling morning session, bringing up his third century in as many Tests as the hosts looked to make up for a poor start to their first innings.

    But after Bairstow's team-mates toiled in being bowled out for 284, India recovered from the early loss of Shubman Gill to reach 125-3 by close of play, leaving the hosts with it all to do on day four. 

    The hosts enjoyed some good fortune upon resuming, with skipper Ben Stokes (25-36) being dropped in inexplicable fashion by Jasprit Bumrah before gifting the visiting captain a catch with an identical shot off the very next ball.

    As has often been the case since Brendon McCullum took charge, England were left to rely on the brilliant Bairstow, who dragged them into contention by bringing up his century – the 11th of his Test career - off 119 balls shortly after lunch.

    But their momentum dissipated when Mohammed Shami had him caught for 106 off 140 to reduce England to 241-7, before Mohammed Siraj dismissed Stuart Broad (1-5) in the very next over and finished the innings 4-66 after accounting for Sam Billings (36-57) and Matthew Potts (19-18).

    Needing a fast start to have any hope of teeing up another successful chase, England were boosted when James Anderson had Gill (4-3) caught at slip, his fourth Test dismissal of the India opener.

    Broad and Stokes then claimed a wicket apiece as Hanuma Vihari (11-44) and the out-of-form Virat Kohli (20-44) were felled, before Cheteshwar Pujara bought up a slow half-century off 139 balls. 

    He and Rishabh Pant (30 not out) were then content to see the day out in quiet fashion, with England now requiring wickets to fall quickly on Monday.

    Brilliant Bairstow drags England into contention

    The pressure was on when England resumed on Sunday, and Bairstow – so often the key man in the early days of McCullum's red-ball revolution, stepped up after a bout of sledging from Kohli.

    In recording his first century against India in Test cricket, Bairstow went from 13 off 61 balls to 100 off 119, going up through the gears in rapid fashion when England needed him most.

    Siraj halts hosts' progress

    With England having recovered from 84-5 to 241-7 by Bairstow's dismissal, India could have been forgiven for thinking back to the way McCullum's men conducted three successful chases of over 250 against New Zealand in their recent series whitewash.

    But Siraj stepped up to claim a four-wicket haul as India held off their hosts, leaving England requiring something special to level the series at 2-2.

  • Wimbledon: Watson credits 'flawless' Niemeier after seeing best grand slam run halted Wimbledon: Watson credits 'flawless' Niemeier after seeing best grand slam run halted

    Heather Watson praised Jule Niemeier's "flawless" performance after seeing her best Wimbledon run ended by the German in a straight-sets last-16 reverse.

    Watson was beaten 6-2 6-4 by Niemeier on the 100th anniversary of Centre Court's opening, as the home favourite fell short of a first career grand slam quarter-final appearance.

    Niemeier's win set up a last-eight clash with compatriot Tatjana Maria, as two German female players reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the same year for just the fifth time since 1987.

    In her post-match news conference, Watson lauded her opponent's display and said she will eventually look back on her run to the fourth round with pride. 

    "Immediately after walking off the court, I was obviously extremely disappointed. I've taken every match here as a big opportunity and managed to take advantage of it until today," she said.

    "But credit to my opponent. I felt like she played really well, especially in that first set. Very flawless tennis. 

    "She served big, which was a big difference today, I felt like I was always reacting to her ball. I was not on the front foot like I was in my other matches.

    "It's so soon after the match, I'm still deflated and disappointed, I saw today as a big opportunity and thought I would come through it.

    "I've always felt good enough, I've won four WTA titles – that's not easy. I know when I light it up I can beat anyone on my day, and tennis is so up and down. 

    "I'll look back and be proud of myself for this week, but right now I'm disappointed."

    Niemeier became the fourth-youngest German woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the Open Era, with only Bettina Bunge, Steffi Graf and Sabine Lisicki doing so at a younger age.

    The 22-year-old recognised the significance of winning on the day of Centre Court's centenary celebrations, after the likes of Roger Federer and Billie Jean King spoke during a parade of former champions, and even apologised to fans for eliminating a home hopeful.

    "I didn't want to watch the show before the match because I was pretty nervous and I saw all the players, so I didn't want to see it. But of course, it's a special place, it's one of the biggest courts on Tour," she said.

    "The court is so beautiful, and I feel honoured I had the chance to play on Centre Court.

    "I just want to say sorry that I had to kick out a British player today!"

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.