NEW YORK (AP) — There were only about 2,000 fans in Madison Square Garden, far fewer than would normally pack the place when Stephen Curry and the Warriors come to town.
But in New York, even a small crowd can make a big sound — until Curry quieted it down.
Curry scored 37 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 114-106 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night in the first game this season with fans at the arena.
“There were some fans heckling, which was awesome, and me and Draymond (Green) were talking about it: There’s no better feeling — I don’t care if it’s 19,000 or 2,500 or whatever it is — you love silencing a road crowd,” Curry said. “So that was a cool experience considering not many arenas have had fans this year and it does make a huge difference.”
Curry, who owns a 50-point game and a triple-double at MSG, returned from a one-game absence to make the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:38 left. He scored 26 points in the second half and added six rebounds and six assists against one of the NBA’s best defensive teams.
“So they make it tough, but Steph found a way to score,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It was not easy but he found a way and made some huge shots and created a lot of offense for us.”
Curry’s performance came in the first NBA game at Madison Square Garden with fans since the Knicks beat Detroit last March 8, days before the season was suspended as the coronavirus was about to begin pummeling New York.
Julius Randle went from the high of his first All-Star selection to the low of getting ejected in the final seconds after picking up his second technical foul. He had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed New York’s arenas to open to fans at 10% capacity, which meant roughly 2,000 at The Garden. They greeted the Knicks with loud cheers early on, but there were the familiar noticeable groans after a turnover during a dismal stretch of the third quarter, when the Warriors opened a 13-point lead.
New York recovered from that and had the game tied at 97 before Curry’s 3-pointer. He converted a three-point play about two minutes later to make it 105-100 and helped finish it off at the foul line, where he was 12 for 12.
“I felt like we got good shots but to be honest, we weren’t getting the calls,” Knicks guard Derrick Rose said. “I felt like guys were going to the lane and we weren’t getting the same calls and that makes it hard when it’s that lopsided.”
Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for the Warriors, who got centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney back from injuries and won for the first time after two rough losses on their four-game road trip.
Randle was the first Knicks player selected to the All-Star Game since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018. Randle addressed the crowd before the game, but the start of his remarks were drowned out by fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”
“It was really special. It was surreal in a sense,” he said. “Everything you can dream of and it seemed like it all came to fruition. It was amazing, honestly.”
Warriors: Wiggins celebrated his 26th birthday. … Juan Toscano-Anderson, the forward on a two-way contract who had started the last 10 games while the centers were out, didn’t play. … Wiseman missed 11 games with a sprained left wrist and Looney missed 10 with a sprained left ankle.
Knicks: Elfrid Payton scored 20 points and Rose had 16. … A message from Randle’s mother congratulating him on his All-Star selection played during a timeout in the first half.
BACK IN THE BUILDING
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau called the return of fans “a first step back toward normalcy.”
“I think we all know what basketball means to this city, so we’re excited about it,” he said before the game.
A Knicks spokesman said the game was a sellout and everyone who attended passed their health screening.
Kerr said there was a different vibe in the games the Warriors had played in front of fans.
“Even just having a couple thousand fans makes a difference,” he said. “It just feels more normal, more real. The crowd noise actually shows up at the exact right time and not canned laughter like in a sitcom.”
Warriors: Visit the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
Knicks: Host the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.
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