A week before the Warriors tip off the regular season, Steph Curry looked especially ready for the real thing.
Curry scored 29 points (on 11-of-21 shooting, 5-of-13 on 3-pointers) in just over 28 minutes during Golden State's 114-113 preseason loss to the Kings on Tuesday night. The two-time MVP compiled four assists, four rebounds, three steals and a handful of additions to the highlight reel.
Tuesday's game was just Curry's third since breaking his hand last October, and it stood in direct contrast to his quiet preseason opener last Saturday. Coach Steve Kerr told reporters in a video conference after the game that he noticed a significant difference in Curry's approach.
"I think Steph got Steph going," Kerr said. "He came into camp in great shape. He's spent the week trying to get everybody organized and get to know his teammates and help them along, and I think tonight he focused on getting himself going. He was more aggressive and looked to score right from the outset. He needed it just to find some rhythm, and I think he's really trending towards being really ready to go next week."
Curry opened the game with a 16-foot pull-up jumper 16 seconds in. He stole the ball 19 seconds later, and drained his first 3-pointer 1:12 into his night. All told, Curry made four of his first five shots -- including three 3-pointers -- and scored 11 of the Warriors' first 15 points.
The guard scored all of 10 points in the Warriors' first preseason game.
"I wouldn't say there's a vibe of trying to prove anything to myself, but you want to find a rhythm as fast as possible," Curry said, "and treat this like a regular-season game as much as possible -- even though we're missing [No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman] and Draymond [Green] and our rotations are a little different than they're gonna be.
"But personally, [I try to] approach the game as if it's a regular-season situation and try to find your rhythm since we've been off for so long."
Curry's third quarter, his last before spending the rest of the game splitting time between the bench and an exercise bike, arguably was his best. He played all 12 minutes, scored 13 points and led the charge as the Warriors trimmed a 15-point halftime deficit into a seven-point gap going into the fourth quarter.
It wasn't a perfect night by any means. Curry's performance masked his teammate's struggles with him off the floor, as evidenced by the guard finishing the night plus-7 while the Warriors were outscored by 14 without him on the floor in the first three quarters. He also turned the ball over a team-high four times.
Curry's decision-making should improve with more game time, and teammates Marquese Chriss and Kevon Looney think the bench's production without Curry will improve with a better defensive effort. The latter is especially pressing, considering the Warriors' 14-46 record without Curry in the lineup last season.
Yet in the second game of an abbreviated preseason following a nine-month layoff, Curry looked the part of a potential MVP candidate. His importance to the Warriors doesn't need repeating, but that doesn't make a performance like Tuesday's any less worth savoring for Golden State.