With another mercurial performance in what has already been an outstanding season, Stephen Curry helped Golden State inch closer to the postseason.
Now it’s just a matter of holding court in the Western Conference for the upstart Warriors.
Curry scored 39 points and Golden State moved one step closer to ending its five-year playoff drought with a 125-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
It’s the 12th time this season Curry has had 30 points or more, and his seven 3-pointers extended his single-season franchise record to 236.
“It’s amazing the clinic he’s putting on,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We are witnessing one of the greatest shooters that’s ever played this game. He’s been great for us all season, but he’s on the floor like he’s the baddest dude in the building.”
Curry was definitely that on a night he was paired against Portland’s standout rookie, Damian Lillard.
Lillard, who scorched the Warriors for a season-high 37 points in January, scored 16 points and tied Curry’s’ NBA’s single-season rookie record for 3-pointers, but was nowhere as effective as he was in his first trip back home. The Oakland native shot just 4 of 11 from the floor and committed three turnovers.
Carl Landry had a season-high 25 points and 10 rebounds coming off the bench, while David Lee scored 13 points for the Warriors, who maintained their 1½-game lead over Houston for sixth place in the Western Conference. Golden State lowered its magic number for clinching a playoff berth to five.
“Our goal is to be playing our best basketball these next eight games to put ourselves in position to make the playoffs and to not just be that team that goes to the playoffs and gets swept,” Curry said. “We have that bigger picture in mind. We’re not looking in the rearview mirror.”
Curry showed why he’s one of the elite perimeter shooters in the league.
He went 14 of 22 from the floor and had six assists and five rebounds in his most impressive outing since scoring an NBA season-high 54 points against the New York Knicks on Feb. 27.
“We have confidence he can have nights like that, but it’s still unbelievable to be out there when he gets in a groove like that,” Lee said. “The level of difficulty on a lot of the shots he’s hitting is unbelievable.”
That helped the Warriors to their third win in four games. Golden State hasn’t made the playoffs since stunning top-seeded Dallas in the first round of the 2007 postseason.
Curry also moved past Tim Hardaway into second place on the Warriors’ career list for 3-pointers. Jason Richardson (700) holds the franchise record.
Meyers Leonard led Portland with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Playing their second straight game without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge (right ankle), the Blazers trailed by six late in the second quarter, but gave up 60 points in the second half.
“They made a lot of tough shots, but they also got a lot of easy baskets,” Lillard said. “I thought we defended well about half the time. With a guy who can shoot like (Curry), you can’t let him get so many open looks.”
Lillard had a career night in his first trip back to Oakland as a pro earlier this season and got off to another quick start in his return. He scored seven points, had four assists and made two 3-pointers in the first quarter to tie Curry’s NBA rookie single-season record of 166.
That wasn’t enough to slow down the Warriors, who shot 72.7 percent in the first quarter and closed on a 12-3 run to take a 36-31 lead.
Landry scored Golden State’s final four points in the period, then scored the team’s first seven in the second quarter to put the Warriors up 43-34.
Portland cut the gap to 61-55 with 1:07 left before Andrew Bogut scored on a short hook shot and Harrison Barnes added a dunk that gave Golden State a 65-55 halftime lead.
Curry didn’t slow down after the break. He made two lob passes for assists on dunks by Barnes and Bogut, then later scored on a driving layup and 3-pointer to make it 90-70.
Curry hit more two more 3s in the fourth quarter, the second of which extended the Warriors’ lead to 110-85.