Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry scores season-high 45 points as Warriors rout Clippers


LOS ANGELES — Late in the third quarter Saturday afternoon, with the Warriors well on their way to a 121-105 rout of the Clippers at Staples Center, Darrell Bailey — the Clippers super fan known as “Clipper Darrell” — sprung from his seat.

“Hey, (Steve) Kerr!” Bailey shouted. “Can you take Curry out?”

It was a thought L.A. head coach Doc Rivers surely shared. With Kevin Durant (right calf strain) missing his second straight game, Curry helped wipe away his teammates’ shortcomings with a season-high 45 points on 11-for-21 shooting, including 8-for-16 from three-point range, in 30 minutes. To make a career-high 15 free throws, he needed only 16 attempts.

Had Curry not sat the entire fourth quarter of the blowout, he likely would have broken the career-high 54 points he scored in New York on Feb. 27, 2013. Curry almost definitely would have at least notched his sixth career 50-point game.

“Steph understands how this works,” Kerr said. “He isn’t the type to try to get back into a game to set a career-high or go for 50.”

Saturday wasn’t such a memorable afternoon, however, for Warriors not named Curry. Outside of the four-time NBA All-Star, Golden State shot 28-for-73 (38.4 percent) from the field and 5-for-23 (21.7 percent) from three-point range. Klay Thompson, who entered Saturday shooting 48.9 percent from the field, needed 16 shots to score 10 points.

It all reinforced why the Warriors are so fortunate to have two former MVPs.

When Curry missed 11 games last month with a sprained right ankle, Durant shouldered a heavier load and guided Golden State to a 9-2 record. Now, in the two games Durant has been sidelined, Curry has totaled 74 points on 41 shots. In the four games since he returned to the court Dec. 30 against Memphis, he is averaging 36 points on 58 percent shooting —including 53.8 percent from three-point range — to go with six rebounds and 4.7 assists.

“When you have a guy like Steph Curry who has your back,” Thompson said, “you can have a few off nights.”

After a back-to-back set in Texas, Golden State flew to Los Angles on Friday with plenty of time to enjoy the city’s famed nightlife. Kerr said pregame that he tried to warn his players against going out, “but they were all gone by the time I could clear my throat.”

It may not have surprised him then that the Warriors opened slow-footed against a Clippers team that had won four of its previous five games. The good news for Golden Sate: L.A., which was without Milos Teodosic, Austin Rivers, Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari, was also out of sync. The two teams opened a combined 8-for-23 from the field.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin didn’t return after he took an elbow to the head from Warriors center JaVale McGee late in the first quarter (Griffin was later diagnosed with a concussion). With five rotation players sidelined by injury, L.A. entered halftime trailing by nine points. In the third quarter, with Curry’s 16 points leading the way, the Warriors outscored the Clippers 39-21 to seize a 103-76 lead.

“I just knew right away when I got free for a couple of threes in the first quarter that I was in a rhythm,” Curry said. “There’s no thought process, but you know when your shot is feeling better than other nights. Just play and have fun.”

Seldom did a few minutes pass without one of Curry’s dazzling dribbling displays or did-he-really-just-do-that jumpers.

Midway through the first quarter, he darted down court in transition, stopped four feet behind the top of the arc and drilled the three-pointer. Early in the third, he bypassed an easy layup on a fast break, took a dribble on the left wing and nailed another three. As Curry shimmied his shoulders running back on defense, a capacity crowd of 19,068 roared in glee.

“I think he ain’t from this earth,” Warriors guard Nick Young told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke after the game.


Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: cletourneau@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @Con_Chron

Back, and as good as ever

Stephen Curry since returning from ankle injury:

Date

Opp.

FG-FGA

3P-3PA

Pts

Dec. 30

Grizzlies

13-17

10-13

38

Jan. 3

at Mavs

11-19

6-13

32

Jan. 4

at Rockets

10-20

4-10

29

Jan. 6

at Clippers

11-21

8-16

45

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