It doesn't take much to set Steph Curry off.
On Monday night, Curry looked to come out of his monthlong shooting slump as he scored 40 points, 21 of which came in the fourth quarter, in the Golden State Warriors' 122-108 win over Houston. It's possible Curry was simply due to find his form again after averaging a 36.9 field-goal percentage in his last 15 games, but he credited some trash talk from Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. for giving him a "little boost" of motivation.
Porter Jr., who was admirably committed to annoying Curry throughout the game, was called for a foul near the end of the third quarter. Unhappy with the call, he stalked up to Curry, hovered over his shoulder, and appeared to say something to the two-time MVP, who did not respond.
About a minute of game time later, Curry forced a Porter Jr. turnover and sank a three on the other end.
Porter Jr. was not intimidated by this warning. With five minutes left, he hit a three over Curry to bring the Rockets within four, and said his piece.
Both players seemed to be enjoying themselves, but the thrill fizzled out quickly for one team. After Porter Jr.'s three, the Rockets scored only four more points in the rest of the game. Curry closed it out for the Warriors, finishing 13-of-23 from the field and 7-of-14 from three. After the game, Curry was asked about the one-sided banter with Porter Jr., and he didn't take it personally:
Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who's wise enough to not give Curry advice his shooting form or shot selection, said he didn't see Porter Jr.'s chatter but was grateful for it just the same. "I highly encourage it," Kerr said.