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SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry paid Draymond Green the ultimate compliment after watching the forward tie a career high with 19 assists in Friday’s 118-97 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, calling him the “smartest basketball player I’ve played with.”
“When he gets in a groove like that where he’s getting everybody involved, and having a Draymond-type night where scoring’s not really the difference-maker, it’s the way that he does the intangibles,” Curry said. “And then makes everybody better by getting the ball on time, can finish off plays. He’s the smartest basketball player I’ve played with, and it shows in moments and games like tonight where he just finds a way to impact winning in his own way.”
On a night in which Chase Center hosted fans for the first time in more than a year, Curry and Green led the way as they have so many times through the years. Curry scored 32 points, and Green added 12 rebounds to his career-best assist total.
Green, who scored just two points on 1-of-3 shooting from the field, said he believes that passers can get into the same kind of zone that Curry and other great shooters can.
“Absolutely,” Green said. “You definitely can find that zone and feel like you can make any pass. Some of those crazy-ass passes you see me make, it’s like a heat check. You see a guy coming down from 35 feet and heat-checking that thing — I feel like that with my passes sometimes.
“I’m trying to heat check that thing and see if I can get it through a tight gap, but it’s fun. But when you’ve got guys hitting shots at that rate that guys were hitting shots today — timely cuts, backdoor cuts, making all the right reads and taking what the defense is giving them.”
Curry, who has heat-checked plenty of shots during his career, agreed with Green’s assessment.
“The same way you feel like the game slows down and the rim looks huge,” Curry said, “Same way I guess if you’re at the top of the key or you’re making those decisions with the ball in your hands and you get somebody open. On-time and on-target passes, you kind of just seeing everything a little bit better, a little bit quicker. Execute the angle of the pass, speed of the pass, timing of the pass, whatever it is — he’s a master at it.”
Aside from Curry and Green’s play, the Warriors received an added jolt by having almost 2,000 fans cheering them on. Fans chanted “MVP! MVP!” for Curry throughout the night, and a couple of hundred waited in their seats after the game to give both players another ovation as they finished their respective postgame interviews and made their way off the floor.
“It was really nice for sure,” Curry said. “Considering what we’ve all been through the last 409 days. That was awesome. Even pulling up, driving around the arena when I got here three hours early, you see all the ushers outside waiting to get in, understanding that they’re excited to get back to work.
“Just a little bit different of a buzz inside and outside the arena. I know you got to take it slow and obviously keep everybody safe but ramp up how many people can get in the building and slowly but surely get back to a full, packed house where that energy is second to none. Us on the floor, we live off of that. You try to bring it when it’s an empty arena. You do your best, but it makes such a difference with fans.”