OAKLAND — NBA MVP Stephen Curry showed in a hurry he hasn’t lost a step or his swagger, scoring 40 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 111-95 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night to open their title defense.
Curry put on a familiar shooting clinic from all over the court, knocking down seven of his first nine shots with four 3-pointers for 24 first-quarter points. He finished 14 for 26 with seven assists and six rebounds in a rematch of the first round of the playoffs that Golden State swept 4-0. It was his 10th career 40-point game.
Curry and the Warriors raised the championship banner and received their rings in an elaborate pregame ceremony featuring glitz, glow sticks and fire. Coach Steve Kerr attended, then left for the locker room to rest his surgically repaired back as interim Luke Walton coached the team.
First-year New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry took part in the festivities and received a rousing ovation, as he was Golden State’s associate head coach before departing for the Big Easy.
Kerr said beforehand he isn’t sure when he will be back on the bench but plans to go on the team’s weekend road trip to Houston and New Orleans.
“It’s killing me not to be out there tonight,” he said. “I’ve got to be patient and that’s probably not my greatest virtue right now.”
Golden State built a 10-point halftime lead and was never threatened the rest of the way to win its 19th straight home game dating to Jan. 31 and match the franchise record set last season.
Anthony Davis, who averaged 29.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in two games against Golden State last season, shot 4 for 20 and scored 10 of his 18 points on free throws. In his Pelicans debut, Kendrick Perkins battled Andrew Bogut down low and made all five of his field-goal tries for 10 points.
Curry walked out to receive his ring to chants of “M-V-P!” from the raucous sellout crowd in blue 2015 champion T-shirts, then thanked the fans.
“This is an unbelievable day,” Curry said. “We would not have been able to do what we did last year with your guys’ support.”
Curry’s had the second-most points by a reigning MVP in an opener since 1963-64, according to STATS. Milwaukee’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 41 on Oct. 13, 1972, against Phoenix.
Curry started his seventh straight season opener, joining Jeff Mullins and Chris Mullin as the only players since 1962 — in the team’s West Coast history — to do so.
Bogut, already wearing a protective brace for a broken nose, was to receive stitches for a laceration above his right eye.
He added 12 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Warriors began a stretch of five straight games against Western Conference playoff teams to kick off their title defense.
A moment of silence was held for former NBA coach Flip Saunders, who died Sunday.