Stephen Curry's shooting struggles this season have been well chronicled. Entering Monday night, the Golden State Warriors star was shooting 31 percent from 3 for the month of January, having missed 95 of his last 135 3-point attempts. He still hasn't had back-to-back 50-percent shooting games since mid-November. But there are signs he's starting to come around.
The latest was a 40-point/nine-assist/five-rebound showing against the Rockets on Monday that included a career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter. It marked the 37th time Curry has scored at least 20 points in a single quarter, passing Kobe Bryant's 36 for the NBA record.
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These Curry flurries in which he gets scorching hot, which used to be a fairly regular occurrence, have become scarce, but he hit four straight shots to start the game against Dallas last Tuesday and had another stretch of four straight makes against the Timberwolves on Thursday.
On Monday, Curry hit five straight fourth-quarter jumpers in what was the first real stretch of shooting that felt like the old human torch.
You'll notice that all five of those jumpers were self-created. The Warriors have increasingly used Curry off the ball and that's not going to change, but it's always a clear indicator that he's feeling good when he starts getting into pulling up off the dribble. Those step-backs used to be a staple. It's nice to see them come out again.
Even including the stinker against Brooklyn, Curry has now quietly made 16 of his last 34 3-pointers, and it's not just the results that are standing out. Even his misses look better. His shooting energy is noticeably more positive. He looks confident for the first time in a long time. Does the confidence follow or precede the made shots? It's an age-old question. Either way, slowly, Curry is shooting and playing with a kind of attacking joy that's been missing through his slump.
A quick bit of advice for Kevin Porter Jr.: Don't wake a sleeping giant. Late in the third quarter, Porter could be seen staring Curry down and throughout the night was talking trash with the two-time MVP.
Kevin Porter Jr. trash-talking Steph Curry more aggressively than anyone in a long time. Curry not saying anything back, but he's ignited in the second half. Up to 33 points, 9 assists. Porter just hit a 3 over Curry to bring Houston back within four, five minutes left.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 1, 2022
Curry acknowledged after the game that Porter lit a proverbial fire under him with his talk.
"I didn't notice it," Steve Kerr said of Porter Jr. talking to Curry. "But I highly encourage it."
We might look back on this night in a few weeks and realize Kevin Porter Jr. was the guy who broke Curry out of his slump.