GREAT WHILE IT LASTED

Kerr, Curry, rest of War­riors poised to break Bulls’ NBA-record vic­tory to­tal of 20 years ago

Chicago Sun-Times - - RICK TELANDER - Email: rte­lander@sun­times.com

Any­body hop­ing the Golden State War­riors won’t break the 1995-96 Bulls’ NBA-record 72-10 reg­u­lar-sea­son mark pretty much can kiss those hopes good­bye.

The War­riors are 55-5 and have won a record-ty­ing 44 con­sec­u­tive games at home. Fif­teen of their re­main­ing 22 games are at home, mak­ing it hard to fig­ure how they will lose at least five more games be­fore the play­offs.

‘‘You can’t even dream that stuff up,’’ War­riors coach Steve Kerr said af­ter his team squashed the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der 121-106 on Thurs­day at Or­a­cle Arena in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia.

Kerr, who is kind of the For­rest Gump of cham­pi­onship NBA teams, played on that record-set­ting 199596 Bulls team with Michael Jor­dan, Scot­tie Pip­pen, Den­nis Rod­man, et al. He was to that Phil Jack­son-coached team as Stephen Curry is to his War­riors team. Sort of.

That is, he was the Bulls’ best three-point shooter. In re­al­ity, though, Kerr is to Curry as a but­ter knife is to a bay­o­net. Kerr was there on the wing when Jor­dan was ex­hausted from tak­ing ev­ery shot, and he had a dead-eye ac­cu­racy that would serve the team well.

In­deed, Kerr, who won five NBA ti­tles as a player with the Bulls and San An­to­nio Spurs and has a ti­tle as the War­riors’ coach last sea­son, fin­ished his 15-year play­ing ca­reer as the most ac­cu­rate three-point shooter in NBA his­tory (45 per­cent).

The thing is, Kerr took only 1,599 three-point shots in his ca­reer, and Curry takes that many each game.

Kid­ding. But Curry al­ready has taken 630 three-point­ers this sea­son and has made a record 293 of them, drilling them at a 46.4 per­cent rate. Kerr was a nice com­ple­men­tary player; Curry is a lead­ing man.

The wispy 6-3 point guard can do ev­ery­thing the wispy 6-3 shoot­ing guard Kerr could, plus kill you in a mil­lion other ways.

Curry is av­er­ag­ing a league-best 30.7 points and is mak­ing just more than five three-point­ers per game. His ef­fec­tive shoot­ing per­cent­age, fac­tor­ing in the ben­e­fit of a three­p­ointer over a two-poin­ter, is 64 per­cent. That’s crazy.

And the thing that’s cra­zier is that Curry, who av­er­ages 6.6 as­sists, gets his team­mates jacked up to the point that they all start play­ing like him. That is, the War­riors are un­selfish, look for the open man and rip off three­p­oint­ers at a ridicu­lous rate. They shoot 31 three-point­ers per game and make al­most 13. Curry alone made 12 three-point­ers in a game against the Thun­der a week ago, miss­ing only four.

But here’s why it all mat­ters for those of us who re­call the Bulls’ 72-10 team: Curry is the first player to show the world how the three-point shot is the most im­por­tant bas­ket­ball rule change since goaltending was made il­le­gal in 1944. That rule pre­vi­ously had seemed un­nec­es­sary be­cause goaltending was deemed phys­i­cally im­pos­si­ble.

And what Curry does— make three-point­ers so quickly from such long dis­tance— wasn’t thought pos­si­ble, ei­ther. How do you de­fend a man who needs but three-tenths of a se­cond to launch a shot that can’t pos­si­bly make it into a small cir­cle so far away but does?

Con­trary to what youmight have been told, two bas­ket­balls won’t go through a rim at once. An NBA ball that hits noth­ing but net, Cur­rystyle, only has about five inches of free space be­tween it and the 18-inch rim. To even think about guard­ing aman at half­court be­cause he’s a shoot­ing threat is nuts.

And if he can pass like Curry, then what? You’re screwed.

That 1995-96 Bulls team went 39-2 at home, which is amaz­ing. But who is go­ing to beat the War­riors at home this sea­son? Maybe the Spurs. Maybe some­body else if Kerr starts rest­ing his stars, which he has said he likely will do.

But I just can’t see the War­riors los­ing five more games. I wish I could. I spent a lot of time with that Bulls team, and what a time it was.

Jor­dan was the rare most valu­able player of the reg­u­lar sea­son, All-Star Game and NBA Fi­nals. And there’s no need to point out how good he was— or the fact he gave Kerr a black eye with a punch in train­ing camp that showed both play­ers some­thing about each other.

That Bulls team went 87-13 for the reg­u­lar sea­son and play­offs. It would be nice to see the War­riors miss that mark, too. Fat chance. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ricktelander.

| AP

War­riors star Stephen Curry (get­ting a high-five fromDray­mond Green) al­ready has made a record 293 three-point­ers this sea­son.

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