Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry on hot streak, as magic returns to New YorkFriday, April 30, 2021
BY MARK ARCHER
To say that Stephen Curry is having a staggering April 2021 would be an understatement.
The Golden State Warriors guard scored at least 30 points in 11 consecutive games for the record of the longest such streak in league history by a player 33 years or older — surpassing Kobe Bryant, who had 10-straight 30-point games in 2012.
The hot streak flowed into last Sunday, April 2 when Curry broke the National Basketball Association (NBA) record for the most three-pointers made in a month as the Warriors beat the Sacramento Kings 117-113. The two-time league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) finished the game with 37 points and hit seven three-pointers to take his total to 85 with a few days left to play in April.
The record was previously set at 82 by James Harden while playing for the Houston Rockets in November 2019 and, while Curry has had breathtaking stretches during the Warriors' championship years, nothing compares individually to his April 2021 exploits.
He is averaging 38.2 points per game this month, recorded his 30th 30-point game of the season last Sunday and has hit at least that number (of points) in 13 of his past 14 games.
However, as stunning as this April has been for Curry, the New York Knickerbockers (Knicks) have been on an equally impressive run. This month has seen the Knicks win 10 of 14 games which included nine straight victories that gave them current ownership of the No 4 seed in the East for the first time since 2013 (the last time they made the play-offs).
The Phoenix Suns disrupted New York's win streak on Monday, April 26 with a 118-110 win, but there is no denying that the Knicks have brought the festivities back into Madison Square Gardens and made the NBA world sit up and pay attention.
While Derrick Rose has found his 'second-coming' in New York, the real bright point has been the contribution of centre/power forward Julius Randle who has transitioned from a supporting role to New York's current centrepiece in just his second year with the team.
Entering the game against the Suns on Monday, Randle was averaging 27.3 points per game in April 2021 (third best in the NBA) and he ranks in the top 10 in rebounding and assists this month. He has had two of his five triple doubles and registered a pair of 40-plus point games in less than thirty days, all while continuing to lead the NBA in minutes.
In his first six seasons, Randle was below thirty per cent from three-point range but, this year, he is near 49 per cent. Randle's improvement from beyond the arc is the most significant midcareer increase in long-distance shooting proficiency in NBA-history. He is on pace to become the first NBA player to enter a season with a three-point success rate below 30 per cent (on more than 500 attempts) and then shoot 40 per cent or better from range (with a minimum of 150 attempts).
In March, Randle became the Knicks' only current All-Star when he was named to the team for the first time in his career. As of Monday, 58 games into the 72-game schedule, he had played in 57 and was averaging 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists. Those offensive statistics (along with his three-point exploits) have been matched or exceeded by only one player this season — Denver's Nikola Jokic, a favourite for this year's MVP Award — and only one player reached them before this season: Larry Bird in 1984-85, one of three MVP seasons for the Boston Celtics star.
Randle is averaging more than five three-point attempts per game and his overall improvements have resulted in everything else opening up for the Knicks. He has been spectacular, averaging career highs in virtually every category and making a case for his inclusion in the All-NBA team.
The Knicks will make the play-offs for the first time since 2013, the year they finished as the Eastern Conference's No 2 seed and, while they are not expected to finish that high in the standings this season, they are positioned to secure the No 4 or No 5 seed and avoid the dread out of the league's play-in tournament.
The feature games this weekend will see the Utah Jazz visiting the Phoenix Suns tonight, the Denver Nuggets hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night and the Milwaukee Bucks travel to New York (Brooklyn) to take on the Nets on Sunday afternoon.
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Brooklyn Nets 3.30
Los Angeles Lakers 4.50
Los Angeles Clippers 5.60
Utah Jazz 8.20
Milwaukee Bucks 8.60
Philadelphia 76ers 13.00
Phoenix Suns 18.00
Denver Nuggets 28.00
Miami Heat 35.00
Boston Celtics 40.00
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