ANTONIO GONZALEZ, AP Basketball Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry never talks about his case for NBA MVP unless he’s asked. Instead, he prefers to let his play speak for itself.
Note to Curry: The message is coming through loud and clear.
Curry eclipsed his own NBA record for most 3-pointers in a season, scoring 45 points to rally the Golden State Warriors to a 116-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
“I finally played a fourth quarter,” he joked, indirectly referring to how many lopsided wins have limited his playing time. “So I wanted to get out there and make some plays.”
Curry entered the game four shy of his mark of 272 3-pointers, which he set two years ago in the season finale at Portland. He hit six before halftime and eight overall, teaming with fellow Splash Brothers star Klay Thompson to bring the Warriors back from 13 points down.
Curry finished 17-of-23 shooting, including 8 of 13 from 3-point range, which had Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob salivating over the statistics following coach Steve Kerr’s postgame news conference.
“Unbelievable,” Lacob said.
Curry added 10 assists, and Thompson scored 26 points to help Golden State avoid its first three-game losing streak this season. Curry became the first Warriors player with at least 45 points and 10 assists in a game since Latrell Sprewell in 1997.
“He played like he wants to be MVP,” Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge said.
And indeed he does.
“He never says anything about it,” Kerr said of Curry’s candidacy, “but you better believe he wants it.”
The Warriors (64-15), who had already secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs because of a tiebreaker over East-leading Atlanta, clinched the NBA’s best record.
Aldridge had 27 points and six rebounds, and Damian Lillard added 20 points and eight assists for the Blazers, who had already locked up the Northwest Division. However, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll get home court in the first round — that’s based on record — and Portland (51-28) fell two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers (53-26) in its chase for that, mostly because it couldn’t corral Curry.
“We tried to mix up our coverages a little bit because he came out making shots from everywhere,” Lillard said. “It pretty much just didn’t matter. He made shots with a hand in his face, off balance, deep, everything. He just had it going.”
On one play in the fourth quarter, Curry lost Lillard on the perimeter with a nifty behind-the-back dribble late. He threw up a 3 and ran down court as if he knew it would go in — and it did.
Curry added another jumper and converted a reverse layup between a pair of Portland scores to put the Warriors up 102-97 with more than 3 minutes to play.
But Lillard and Aldridge kept bringing the Blazers back with an inside-out, two-man game that gave Golden State fits. Portland moved within a point before Golden State’s All-Star duo put away the game.
Curry made three free throws, Thompson broke free for a layup and Curry delivered the dagger — crossing over Aldridge in the corner and hitting a step-back shot from 18 feet that gave Golden State a 111-103 lead with 1:11 left.
“He’s our MVP,” Thompson said. “He should be for the league.”
Trail Blazers: Aldridge had his 50th game with at least 20 points this season. … Portland lost all three games against the Warriors this season.
Warriors: Reserve guard Leandro Barbosa sat out with a sore Achilles. … Golden State has won 15 consecutive home games.
Blazers shooting guard Arron Afflalo left in the fourth quarter with a right arm injury after trying to post-up Curry. The team said he will undergo further medical evaluation on Friday. The Blazers are already missing starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who is out for the season after rupturing his left Achilles tendon last month.
In a season filled with records, the Warriors matched a few more. They tied the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers for the biggest improvement for a 50-win team. Each team won 13 more games than the previous year. In addition, the Warriors improved to 36-2 at Oracle Arena this season, tying the franchise record for home wins set by the defending champion Warriors in 1975-76.
Trail Blazers: Host Utah on Saturday.
Warriors: Host Minnesota on Saturday
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