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NBA scores 2016: Stephen Curry amazes even the best players in the world and 3 other things we learned

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Curry's had the praise of the fans and the media all along. Now the players are celebrating his greatness.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors don't need to beat the Thunder 121-118 to prove to any of the other contenders they are the best team in the league and one of the best in NBA history. The shots that former players take at them, saying that their teams would have beaten them, are considered laughable. Everyone is chasing Golden State and they know it. It's hard to ignore greatness.

For some reason, the same level of universal praise from direct competitors has eluded the engine behind that success. Stephen Curry shouldn't need to drop 46, break his own record for most three-pointers in a season and tie for most in a game on a 38-foot game-winner to prove to anyone he's the league's MVP. But he does, for some reason.

Curry won MVP last season but lost to James Harden for that distinction in the Player's Awards. His own contemporaries considered someone else to have been more valuable. That's why it's not surprising to hear the great Oscar Robertson say that Curry would have struggled in his era. For some reason, it's taken a while for other players to accept the fact that he's one of the greats.

That changed on Saturday.

Curry got the ball after a rebound, walked past the half-court line, and as he looked at the rim the tension became palpable. Two small, quick steps and the release followed. Swish, from 38 feet out.

That was the moment when the floodgates opened.

Those are three of the most respected active players in the game and two of the best point guards in the league and they can't believe what they just saw. There are dozens of other similar reactions. It's safe to say in the offseason he won't lose the Players' Awards this time. Those who compete against Curry have realized that they are witnessing something unique. They have become fans at this point.

The former players shouldn't be far behind now. Scottie PippenMagic Johnson and others are already singing his praises. Sure, there will always be holdovers, but their opinions, just like the opinions of those who still doubt the Warriors' greatness, will be ignored. Curry is undeniable now.

The general public was, weirdly, the first to notice. Now his fellow players are catching up.

3 other things we learned

The Celtics are a step closer to home-court advantage


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The Celtics beat the Heat on Saturday thanks to a balanced attack and a great effort by their bench. The game was close until the fourth quarter, when the Heat collapsed and gave up fast break points and second chance opportunities to a disciplined and energetic Boston squad. With the win, the Celtics are now two games ahead of Miami for the third-best record in the East and 2.5 ahead of the Hawks, who currently rank fifth.

The fight for that third spot is key because the team that gets it will avoid the Cavaliers in a potential second-round matchup. The Celtics took a big step toward securing it with a gutsy win that also guarantees them the tiebreaker against the Heat, should the two finish with the same record. Boston is exceeding expectations this season and could make some noise in the playoffs earlier than anyone had anticipated.

The Spurs have been winning on the road

The Spurs closed their annual Rodeo Road Trip with a 104-94 win over the Rockets in Houston. It was their fifth in a row and the seventh in the last eight, all played away from the AT&T Center, where they remain undefeated. They are still on pace for 69 wins and are now the second-best road team in the NBA, behind -- who else? -- the Warriors.

Getting wins on the road against mediocre teams had proved challenging to San Antonio earlier in the season, with losses to the Pelicans, Rockets and Wizards in the books. Catching up with Golden State for the best record in the conference seems like a long shot at best, but in order to hold on to the second seed the Spurs needed to get better at putting away teams they should beat on the road. It looks like they are on the right track.

The Jazz can't afford to lose winnable games

The Jazz went into Saturday with the ninth-best record in the West, trailing the Rockets by just half a game. Houston was hosting the streaking Spurs while Utah was playing at home against one of the worst teams in the league in the Nets. Somehow they managed to lose against Brooklyn and let a great opportunity to seize the final playoff spot pass them by.

There's still plenty of time for the Jazz to get past Houston. Games like the one against the Nets, however, serve as a reminder about the lack of experience and poise on the roster. There's plenty of talent on the team but at times it lacks direction. The Jazz better find it soon because losing at home against bottom-feeders could actually cost them a shot at making the postseason.

Play of the night

Watch it again. You know you want to.

4 fun things

Karl-Anthony Towns breakaway dunks are fun.

Draymond Green got a little heated during the halftime break.

Enes Kanter knew Curry's game-winner was going in as soon as he released it.

The Warriors could lose the rest of their games and still make the postseason.

Final scores

Celtics 101, Heat 89 (Celtics Blog recapHot Hot Hoops recap)

Timberwolves 112, Pelicans 110 (Canis Hoopus recap The Bird Writes recap)

Trail Blazers 103, Bulls 95 (Blazer's Edge recapBlog a Bull recap)

Spurs 104, Rockets 94 (Pounding the Rock recapThe Dream Shake)

Pistons 102, Bucks 91 (Detroit Bad Boys recapBrew Hoop recap)

Warriors 121, Thunder 118 OT (Golden State of Mind recapWelcome to Loud City recap)

Suns 111, Grizzlies, 106 (Bright Side of the Sun recapGrizzly Bear Blues recap)

Nets 98, Jazz 96 (Nets Daily recapSLC Dunk)

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SB Nation Presents: Stephen Curry is literally a video game

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