Songs in the three of life


LOS ANGELES -- In the midst of it all, Stephen Curry was unaware of the exact numbers, he had no idea of their historical significance. He wasn't caught up in a duel either, with the more pressing matter of a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to overcome. He still understood this wasn't a standard NBA game. He was hot even by his own incendiary standards, scorching the net nine times in 14 3-point attempts. And yet Chris Paul kept answering him, by weaving his way through the lane, knocking down fallaway jumpers or getting to the free-throw line.

Two of the best point guards in a league that's well stocked with them were putting on a show.

"I don't need to look at the scoreboard," Curry said. "I know. I can kind of feel it, the flow of the game. You know who's killing it.

"You understand what's going on in the game, when a guy gets hot like that. It's fun to compete and battle in that situation. That's what this game's all about. It kind of gets your juices flowing."

The only thing better than being in the midst of something like that is having the awareness to realize what's transpiring. This week I got to meet Greg Phillinganes, a keyboardist who played on Stevie Wonder's "Songs In the Key Of Life" when Phillinganes was only 19 years old. He had the good fortune to catch Wonder at his peak, when he produced a double album filled with classics. Phillinganes soon realized that outburst of creativity boiled down to this: "He had that much music in him."

Curry and Paul had that much basketball in them Thursday night, enough to provide the backbone of an entertaining game that the Clippers won, 126-115.

If Curry bothered to glance up at the scoreboard above the court he could have seen Paul's 42 points and 15 assists. A check of the full box score after the game would show Paul had six steals as well. It's the first time a player hit all three of those levels in points, assists and steals since the steals stat was introduced in the 1973-74 season. The common belief is that for the Clippers to truly contend for a championship, Blake Griffin will have to elevate his game to Paul's MVP-candidate level. But performances like this allow you to entertain thoughts of Paul advancing the Clippers -- further than the two postseason games they won last season, at least -- through his own transcendent performance. This did come against a team that went to the second round of the playoffs, after all.

The Warriors threw big guards such as Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala on Paul and it didn't deter him.

"I was a little bit more aggressive tonight," Paul said. "I looked for my shot and the ball screen, tried to be aggressive on defense, tried to make Stephen as uncomfortable as possible."

Curry did turn the ball over 11 times, a number that kept Warriors Coach Mark Jackson from reveling in Curry's shooting stats. But there were plenty of glorious numbers in the other columns: 38 points and nine assists, among them.

Curry wasn't fazed whenever a Clippers defender showed around a screen. Curry just kept going until he found open space. Or launched over the outstretched arms of DeAndre Jordan if necessary.

As sloppy as he and the Warriors were with the ball, Curry still scored 10 more than the 28 points the Clippers scored off Warriors turnovers.

It was great theater even this early in the season. And the most enticing thought is to wonder how much more they have in them.