Golden State Warriors win record 73rd game – beat Michael Jordan’s 1996 Chicago Bulls (WATCH: Stephen Curry’s three-pointers)
Stephen Curry scores a game-high 46 points and hits his 400th three-pointer of the season to lead the Warriors
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors took their last shot at Michael Jordan and history and they swished it – for 73.
Down to their final chance at the record, the Warriors became the first 73-win team on Thursday (Hong Kong time) night by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104, breaking what many considered an unmatchable mark set 20 years ago by Jordan’s Chicago Bulls – oh, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr, too.
“When we showed up at training camp there was obviously talk about it and we wanted to have a great start to the season which is what we did with that 24-0 start, and from there raised the bar of expectation for ourselves,” said Curry.
“That’s really all it’s about. The expectation we put on ourselves in that locker room. We don’t need any extra motivation but we seem to be getting it a lot.”
Watch Stephen Curry’s 10 three-pointers in the Warriors final game of the regular season
“I want to congratulate the Warriors on their amazing season,” Jordan said in a statement. “The game of basketball is always evolving and records are made to be broken. The Warriors have been a lot of fun to watch and I look forward to seeing what they do in the play-offs.”
Curry achieved yet one more shooting milestone, becoming the first player to make 400 three-pointers in a season by knocking down 10 from long range on the way to 46 points and 402 total treys. Golden State saved one last record for the closing day of the regular season, and did it for a roaring, sell-out home crowd at Oracle Arena. Yet these Warriors want nothing more than to build off their remarkable run so far and ride it to another title.
“It’s a great way to finish off what was an amazing regular season,” Kerr said. “I just told our guys I never in a million years would have guessed that that record would ever be broken. I thought it was like DiMaggio’s hit streak, really. I was wrong, but I will say the same thing now that I said 20 years ago, ‘I don’t think this one will ever be broken.’ Somebody’s got to go 74-8. I don’t see it, and I hope our fans aren’t expecting that next year.”
When the final buzzer sounded, Green bounded onto the floor and grabbed the game ball as confetti streamed down and “73 WINS” appeared on the scoreboard.
“We were going to play 82 games, anyway,” Green said. “We might as well try to win. It means that I’m on the best team ever. Not many people can say that – 15 guys can say that.”
President Barack Obama sent a tweet that said: “Congrats to the @warriors, a great group of guys on and off the court. If somebody had to break the Bulls’ record, I’m glad it’s them.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement, saying: “Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on their 73rd win and the best regular-season record in NBA history. The team held itself to a high standard throughout the season, playing with purpose every night and captivating fans around the world with its free-flowing style, spectacular shooting and flair for the dramatic. Kudos to the entire Warriors organisation.”
The Warriors went for it, all right. They absolutely wanted this record, even when they could have been resting up for the next challenge: to repeat. And Curry? No doubt about it. He came out and did what he has all along during this sensational season: Let it fly from anywhere on the floor.
Curry had seven three-pointers by halftime, then hit No 400 just 43 seconds into the third.
Already the first player to make 300 three-pointers in a season, Curry knocked down six in the first quarter and three straight during one jaw-dropping stretch that included a 31-footer well behind the top of the arc. And Curry immediately began trending on Twitter.
Curry shattered his own single-season record of 286 from a year ago. When he hit his 400th, the reigning MVP raised his arms and patted his chest in celebration.
He made 10 of 19 three-pointers and shot 15 for 24 overall to go with six assists as fans chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P!” all evening. Klay Thompson added 16 points with four threes of his own before Curry rested the fourth quarter and Thompson most of it.
For all of those so-called experts who doubted the Warriors’ first championship in 40 years last June that didn’t go through San Antonio, this season might have changed their tune.
Golden State not only won nearly every night with a cool swagger and new focus on the offensive end but with a determination to be far better than during that special season.
Already the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed heading into this weekend’s play-offs, Golden State had to get past the very Memphis team the Warriors squeaked by 100-99 four days earlier on the Grizzlies’ home floor to keep themselves in position to make history.
The Warriors whipped the Grizzlies 119-69 at home back on November 2, with the 50-point win the third-largest margin of victory in franchise history.
No champagne celebrations were planned for this focused bunch.
“Absolutely not. You’ve got to save that ‘til June. I mean you might have a glass of wine after the game but that’s about it,” Thompson said. “This record doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t take care of business in the postseason.”
Kerr missed his team’s 24-0 start and the first 43 games overall – Luke Walton led the Warriors to a 39-4 record in Kerr’s absence – while dealing with complications following two back surgeries.
The Warriors had their NBA-record 54-game home winning streak in the regular season snapped in an April 1 loss to Boston at Oracle. Golden State finished 39-2 at home for the second straight year.
Zach Randolph scored 24 points to lead Memphis, who lost their fourth in a row to end the season.
Associated Press and Reuters