For someone who didn’t shoot a basketball for almost two months during the coronavirus pandemic, it didn’t take Seth Curry long to get locked into a zone.
During Thursday’s 108-104 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the VISA Athletic Center in a scrimmage at the NBA bubble, Curry showed that he still has the Midas touch. In the Mavs’ first game since they spanked the Denver Nuggets by 16 points back on March 11, everything Curry touched turn to gold as he collected a game-high 23 points and was absolutely on fire all night long.
But it wasn’t the points that set Curry apart. It was the way he was draining shot after shot so effortlessly. Overall, the seven-year veteran guard was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, including 6-for-6 from downtown.
All this came after Curry said his wife, Callie, “locked the house” as the COVID-19 crisis spread.
“My wife had it shut down,” Curry said. “Nobody could get in (the house) or out. It was at least a month-and-a-half or two months of not going to a gym.
“I shot a few times on the outdoor court just to touch the ball and get some light work in. But this is by far the longest time I’ve ever been in my life (without shooting a basketball).
No one could tell Curry had been away from basketball that long as he drained three consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter, and added three more in the third quarter after the Mavs rallied from a 53-40 deficit late in the second quarter to roll ahead, 77-74, entering the fourth quarter.
“He’s one of the guys that really was very conscientious during the hiatus,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “As the season came to a hiatus point he was just getting in his groove.
“It’s not an accident that he’s shooting the ball as well as he is. He works at it, but more importantly he’s worked at the base of his conditioning and everything else leading up to this point.”
Besides Curry, the Mavs received a huge 17-point, 13-rebound night from backup center Boban Marjanovic. The 7-4 giant of a man filled in admirably for centers Dwight Powell (Achilles tendon surgery) and Willie Cauley-Stein (birth of a daughter).
“With Dwight being out and Willie Cauley-Stein not being here, (Marjanovic is) very much in the mix,” Carlisle said. “Look, coming off what (Marjanovic) did in the Denver game (on Mar. 11) in the last game of the hiatus when he had 31 (points) and 17 (rebounds), he’s showing what he can do.
“He’s definitely a weapon for us and we’re going to have to take advantage of what he does. There’s going to be some unusual matchups on both sides of the ball, but we’re going to have to take advantage of his size on the offensive end and find creative ways to cover him defensive.”
On this night, the Mavs took advantage of the fact that Lakers’ All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis only played in the first half. James finished with 12 points and five assists in 15 minutes, and Davis added 12 points in 15 minutes.
Curry played just 16 minutes, Luka Doncic collected 14 points, five rebounds and six assists in only 17 minutes, and Kristaps Porzingis played just 15 foul-plagued minutes and finished with only eight points on 3-of-6 shooting. Also for the Mavs, Justin Jackson tallied 13 points and Maxi Kleber had 10.
Due to the coronavirus, the game was played with no fans in the stands. And that in itself brought with it a different set of circumstances.
“It was different for sure,” Doncic said. “You could hear a lot of talking, and that’s different, but we just came here to play basketball and give our best.
“I think we played great offensively. We’ve got a lot of weapons on our team.”
Curry described the atmosphere as something he wasn’t accustomed to.
“It was definitely weird coming out during warmups, but the start of the game it was good competition,” he said. “During the basketball game you could definitely hear both teams talking, both benches talking all night, so that should be interesting.
“But as far as the atmosphere, it’s something you just got to get use to and it’s going to be an adjustment for everybody.”
Delon Wright iced the game for the Mavs when he nailed a pair of free throws with 18.4 seconds remaining for the final points of the night.
Overall, the Mavs shot a sizzling 54.1 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. The Mavs also only lost the rebound battle by one (38-37), although those 14 turnovers Dallas committed drew the ire of Carlisle, whose team will scrimmage the Indiana Pacers on Sunday at 3 p.m.
“I thought overall we did a lot of good things,” he said. “Two areas that hurt us – we made a lot of turnovers and we fouled a lot.”
Curry just hopes his next game will be as perfect as the game he threw at the Lakers.
“Every shot I got was something I worked on and something I probably should actually make,” Curry said. “It wasn’t anything too crazy.
“I just made good shots, guys were finding me and setting good screens. The background and the site line from pretty much every angle, it’s not too deep of a depth perception, so it felt good and I hope things continue.”