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Stephen Curry, Bradley Beal trade haymakers in an NBA scoring-title fight that is going down to the wire

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Stephen Curry absolutely saw what Bradley Beal did on Saturday night, dropping 50 points in Washington’s 133-132 win over the Pacers to raise his season scoring average to 31.4 per game. Curry, the league’s scoring leader, entered Saturday night at 31.6 per game. He needed 22 points against the Thunder to maintain the scoring lead over Beal. 

He got 24 in the first quarter. 

Curry ended with 49 points in three quarters, sitting out the final frame of Golden State’s 136-97 blowout over OKC. He is now up to 31.8 for the season. For all intents and purposes, he actually did all his damage in two quarters — 24 in the first and 22 in the third — scoring just three points in 5 minutes and 20 seconds of second-quarter action.

Curry — who has now gone for at least 20 points in a single quarter 33 times in his career, second only to Kobe Bryant’s 36 since 1995-96 — hit 11 of 21 3-pointers on Saturday. It was really 11 of 20, as one was an end-of-quarter heave from beyond half-court, though to be fair, even that’s starting to feel like a regular attempt for Curry, who is on the type of shooting tear at which even he has to marvel. 

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It took Curry just 58 games to reach 300 made 3-pointers for the season, an NBA record. He now has 22 career games with at least 10 made 3-pointers. The next closest guy is Klay Thompson, who has five such career games. It is, in fact, the fourth time this season alone that Curry has hit at least 11 3-pointers, another NBA single-season record. Since the All-Star break, Curry is shooting 45 percent from 3 on almost 14 attempts per game. 

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Speaking of attempts, Saturday’s 21 3-point attempts go down as the most trigger-happy outing of Curry’s career. He’s taken 20 3-pointers three separate times, including twice this season, but until Saturday he’d never shot more than 20. It’s one of the most surprising stats I’ve ever heard, to be honest. As Tom Haberstroh pointed out earlier this season, you could argue Curry should average 20 3-point attempts a night on this particular Warriors team. 

Beal has to be wondering what in the world he has to do to one-up Curry. I mean the dude went for 50, and Curry matched it in three — or basically two — quarters. Beal now has two 50-point games this season, tied for second-most in the league with the CelticsJayson Tatum. Curry has three. 

Beal left the Wizards‘ win on Saturday with what is being called a strained hamstring. He’ll be fully evaluated on Sunday and we should know more soon. Let’s hope it’s not serious. The Wizards are red-hot. They’ve won 15 of their past 19 and moved ahead of Indiana for the East’s No. 9 seed on Saturday. 

If Beal is able to finish out the season, this could be an epic scoring-title finish. Both these guys play the right and their teams are battling for seeding, so don’t expect either one to just start jacking shots all over the place (like when David Robinson went for 71 points on 41 shots on the final day of the 1994 season to edge Shaquille O’Neal for the scoring title). But they’re going to go for it when and where they can. And with the way both Curry and Beal can get smoking hot at a moment’s notice, this could be a lot of fun over the season’s final week. 

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