LOS ANGELES: Reigning league MVP Stephen Curry honored his father with an explosive third quarter performance and Kobe Bryant took his farewell tour up another notch in a pair of key NBA contests on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
Curry watched at halftime as his father and former Charlotte star Dell Curry was featured in a half-time ceremony then followed up with a 28-point third quarter as the Golden State Warriors easily defeated the Hornets 116-99.
Bryant, who announced three days ago he was retiring at the end of the regular season, rattled in the go-ahead jump shot with 30 seconds left in the fourth en route to a 108-104 win over the Washington Wizards.
Golden State’s victory extends the Warriors best start in NBA history to 20-0. Curry dominated in the key third quarter and had Golden State in such complete control that he sat down for the fourth quarter.
“It was special,” he said of the ceremony for his father, who is the franchise’s all-time scoring leader. “I got to come out and see my dad’s halftime ceremony and hear his speech. I might have got a little inspiration from that.”
This was a homecoming for Stephen Curry who grew up in Charlotte and played high school and college ball there. He finished 14-of-18 from the field and eight-of-11 from three-point range.
He had just 12 points at halftime, and then erupted for 28 third-quarter points, including the Warriors’ last 24 over the final 4:55 of the period. He hit four three-pointers in the final 1:53 of the third and finished with a game-high 40 points on the night.
“I am just playing with confidence,” he said. “I feel like I am a better player than I was last year. I am just staying in the moment. There is a lot to be said about being 20-0 but we aren’t satisfied.”
The 20-0 start for the Warriors is the longest streak to open a season in NBA history.
“It is surprising to me because the league has been around a very long time and nobody has done what we are doing. We are proud of it,” Curry said.
Golden State roared to a 28-13 lead halfway through the first quarter then stretched it to 26 in the second half.
The Warriors also got 21 points from guard Klay Thompson, including 15 in the first quarter.
Bryant’s field goal from 16 feet capped a season-high 31-point performance and helped snap the Lakers’ seven game losing skid.
“It has been a long season to say the least. It felt good to get one,” Bryant said.
The 37-year-old Bryant scored 18 points in the first half and 12 in the fourth quarter for the Lakers.
Washington served as the second stop on his farewell tour. For much of this season, it appeared the five-time NBA champion’s shooting touch had disappeared.
It was like a giant hand reached up and turned back the clock Wednesday on the 20-year veteran who showed off some vintage moves including pull-up jumpers and fadeaway field goals with the sell-out Washington crowd of 20,300 applauding him.
“It is surreal,” he said of the cheering on the road. “To get this respect is amazing.”
Bryant entered his lone appearance in Washington shooting 30.1 percent from the field. He finished 10-of-24 against the Wizards including four-of-11 from beyond the arc.
But most importantly for Bryant he still had something left in the tank in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
“I feel really good right now,” he said. “I have pushed it hard in training.
“What I try to do is stay loose during the game and move as much possible so I don’t stiffen up.”