OAKLAND (California) • Stephen Curry did not just return to the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Saturday. He returned to the top of its charts.
Shooting as accurately as ever despite an 11-game absence, he established an NBA season-high with 10 three-pointers during a 38-point explosion that guided the Golden State Warriors to a 141-128 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Curry, who suffered a sprained right ankle in a game against New Orleans on Dec 4, connected on 13 of his 17 shots overall and 10 of 13 from beyond the arc in helping the Warriors equal their second-highest point total of the season.
"I was excited. Felt like the first day of school again," the guard said after his league-best ninth game with 10 or more three-pointers in his career.
"When I woke up this morning, I knew I was going to play basketball. That's a great feeling to have."
Curry, who watched the Warriors average 106.9 points per game in his absence, hit a layup off a Draymond Green assist in his second minute back and made a three-pointer 35 seconds later, giving the Warriors a 10-0 lead just 2min 8sec into the game.
He hit four threes in each of the second and third quarters to equal Damian Lillard's previous NBA season-high of nine, then returned to the game briefly in the fourth quarter to add a 10th.
"Most guys, you would say when they come back, they might struggle," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Curry, whose 38 points were one shy of his season-high.
"You don't say that about Steph."
Klay Thompson had 21 points and Kevin Durant 20 for the Warriors, who won despite the second-quarter ejection of Green.
The forward drew a pair of technical fouls for disputing foul calls 47 seconds apart. Marc Gasol had 27 points to lead the Grizzlies.
The league's 29th-ranked offensive club lost despite scoring 13 more points than they had in any other game this season.
The Grizzlies actually outshot the Warriors 71.4 per cent to 54.5 on three-pointers and connected on 52.1 per cent overall.
"We're trying to build something here," Gasol said after Memphis lost for the 13th time in 17 games since firing coach David Fizdale on Nov 27. "If we're trying to be a really good team, we have to play better defence."