Having dispatched of Wilt Chamberlain, Chris Mullin and Kobe Bryant in a fortnight's work, Stephen Curry turns his attention to a new target on Wednesday night: Bradley Beal.
Only in this case, the Golden State Warriors star will be the pursued, not the pursuer.
The NBA's top two scorers willgo head-to-head when Curry leads the Warriors into the nation's capital to duel Beal and the Washington Wizards.
The collision of playoff hopefuls will be the first at which the Wizards will allow fans at their Capital One Arena this season.
"The mayor and our organization, they picked a great day to have fans," Washington coach Scott Brooks noted earlier this week. "One of the most exciting players in the history of our game is coming to our building."
The Warriors (29-29) and Wizards (24-33) will enter the surprisingly attractive matchup playing arguably their best basketball of the season. That's mostly due to Curry and Beal.
The Warriors have won three of four on an Eastern swing that concludes in Washington. The victims include the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers, who succumbed to a 49-point Curry assault in a 107-96 Warriors win on Monday.
Curry has averaged 42.8 points on the trip, shooting 55 percent from the field and on 3-pointers. He's made 10 or more threes in four of his past five games, a stretch that began on a 53-point night at home against Denver on April 12.
Along the way, Curry has passed Chamberlain for the franchise scoring lead, leap-frogged Mullin on the NBA's all-time points list, and bettered Bryant's previous age-33-or-older record of 10 straight games with 30 or more points, recording an 11th in a row at Philadelphia.
Curry also snatched the NBA scoring lead from Beal on Monday, with his 49 points pushing his season average to 31.4 on the same night the Wizards' standout lost a bit of ground at 31.1.
"Kobe Bryant early in his career had a stretch where he went nuts. Obviously, Michael Jordan had some stretches where he just scored like crazy," Warriors coach Steve Kerr assessed after Monday's win. "But obviously nobody's ever shot the ball like this in the history of the game. Even by Steph's own lofty standards, this is above and beyond."
The scoring race is so tight, if Curry were to keep his streak alive with 30 points against the Wizards, Beal could retake the lead with a 46-point night. He has reached that mark three times already this season, with a high of 60 -- 11 more than Curry -- in his visit to Philadelphia in January.
The Warriors got back Kelly Oubre Jr. from a wrist injury against the 76ers. He, Andrew Wiggins and Damion Lee combined for 37 points to complement Curry's total.
The Wizards have been getting that type of complementary effort -- not necessarily in points, but in all-around numbers -- from Russell Westbrook, who has recorded eight triple-doubles in his past nine games. His only miss -- last Friday against New Orleans -- came by one assist.
Washington has won five in a row and seven of eight, including a 110-107 triumph at Golden State earlier this month when Westbrook had a 19-point, 14-rebound, 14-assist triple-double while Beal was held to 20 points. Rui Hachimura (22 points) and Robin Lopez (20) contributed big-time to the win, which came on a night when Curry scored 32.
--Field Level Media