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This is why Warriors wanted Kevin Durant, he takes over to get Warriors win, 3-0 series lead

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Utah checked a lot of boxes from their pregame scouting report. The tempo was slowed. Gordon Hayward was making plays and finished with 29 points. Rudy Gobert had a huge game with 21 points, 15 boards, and a couple blocks. The Jazz defended the arc well and the Warriors shot 9-of-30 from deep (30 percent). Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were a combined 7-of-29 shooting.

And it wasn’t enough.

Because the Warriors have Kevin Durant. This is why they went after him. On a night Curry and Thompson were cold, in one of the most hostile environments he had seen all season, Durant owned Utah on the pick-and-roll all game. That kept the Warriors in it most of the night allowed him to take over late in the fourth, finishing with 38 points.

Golden State went on a 17-5 run midway through the fourth and pulled away for a 102-91 win and now lead Utah 3-0. Game 4 is Monday in Utah.

The Warriors got a lot of quality offense having Gobert’s man set a screen for Durant with the ball, because the Utah defense calls for Gobert to play back off the ball.

“If whoever Gobert is guarding sets a solid screen, KD’s going to come off wide open,” Warriors coach Mike Brown said. “KD can shoot from 25 feet, 17 feet, or get to the rim it doesn’t matter. So that puts Gobert in a perdicerment, we’ve got a seven footer who is coming at him downhill.”

Gobert actually did a good job when Durant drove, he was just 4-of-10 shooting in the paint. However, his jumper was falling and Durant was 7-of-8 from the midrange and 4-of-8 from three.

Durant and Gobert event got into it a little after a play, one where Gobert pushed Durant out of the way going for a board and Durant came back with a shove. That got Durant a Flagrant 1.

In spite of Durant’s heroics, this was another game where the Jazz defense was good, but they couldn’t generate enough offense against the Warriors defense. Utah shot just 39 percent as a team, and if you take Hayward and Gobert out of the equation the rest of the Jazz shot 31.4 percent.

Still, that felt like it would be enough for a while.

After a slow start by both teams — Warriors started 4-of-10 and the Jazz 2-of-8 — the Warriors pulled away for a double-digit lead. Then the Jazz played their best quarter of the series. Utah took its first lead for the first time in the series 48-47 when Rodney Hood buried a wide-open corner three with 1:01 left in the second quarter. It didn’t last long, but they regained the lead before the half on a couple of Gobert free throws and led 50-49.

At the start of the second half Hayward knocked down a three, the Jazz got some stops and makes, but could never pull away. Mostly because Durant — Curry/Thompson/Draymond Green had combined for just 21 points on 30 shots through three quarters.

Still, the Warriors led by two. It was a bad omen. JaVale McGee gave the Warriors good minutes in the fourth as well, the 17-5 run came led by Durant, and it was all over.

This is exactly why the Warriors brought in Durant.

Draymond Green goes down, Rockets rally to spoil Warriors ring night 122-121

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Draymond Green is not the best player on the Warriors. He’s third or fourth best, depending on what you think of him vs. Klay Thompson.

But Draymond Green is the most important Warrior — what they do defensively does not work without him (and their small ball playmaking suffers as well). Without him, the Warriors are not the same.

That was on full display Tuesday night in the season opener — the night the Warriors got their 31-diamond rings and the latest banner went up at Oracle Arena. Green tweaked his knee in the third quarter landing off a shot and did not play in the fourth, and that’s when the Rockets outscored the Warriors 34-20 to come from behind and steal a win, 122-121.

Green was diagnosed with a “knee strain” and was walking around after the game without a cast/boot/crutches, although with a slight limp according to reports. He said this is nothing serious, although don’t be shocked if the Warriors give him another game or two off to rest it.

Kevin Durant almost saved the day for Golden State with a baseline jumper as time expired — the referees called it good, but an official review showed the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer went off.

James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists to lead the Rockets. However, the real story was their revamped bench outplaying the Golden State bench — Eric Gordon looked like the sixth man of the year with 24 points, P.J. Tucker had 20 and shot 4-of-6 from three, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14.

The Rockets made their final push with Chris Paul sitting on the bench. CP3 sat the final four-and-a-half minutes of the game, and the Rockets thrived with Gordon, Harden and an old-school (meaning, like last season) offense. After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said that Paul was out there “playing on one leg” due to his knee problem, and Paul could miss more time.

Golden State was also without Andre Iguodala, who tweaked his back lifting weights over the weekend, according to coach Steve Kerr. Not having Green or Iguodala hurt the Warriors defense, especially against an elite offensive team.

Surprisingly, Nick Young led the Warriors with 23 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-7 from three. Stephen Curry added in 22, Kevin Durant scored 20 and Klay Thompson 16. However, in the fourth quarter the Warriors big three of Durant, Curry, and Thompson were 5-of-14 from the floor and 2-of-7 from three. Curry could not find the range.

Last season the Spurs blew the Warriors out by 29 on opening night, and the Warriors bounced back to win 67 games and the NBA title. Nobody should read too much into an opening night win. But for a Rockets team with dreams of challenging these Warriors in May, this is a good confidence boost to start the season.

Kevin Durant’s game winner waived off, he didn’t get shot off in time

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With Draymond Green sidelined after tweaking his knee in the third quarter, the Houston Rockets were able to make a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback and upset the Golden State.

But Kevin Durant almost saved the game for the Warriors.

Down one with 10 seconds to go, the Warriors were able to get Stephen Curry a good look at a three but he missed it. The ball was volleyballed around a little, and Durant got a hold of it and took a 15-footer along the baseline that the referees on the court ruled a game-winner — but when reviewed it left his hand a fraction of a second too late.

It was the right call. And this is a big boost for the Rockets as they try to find their identity going into a long season.

 

The Warriors’ championship rings have 31 diamonds in them (VIDEO)

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Tuesday night meant the return of NBA basketball, and of course what we all wanted to see: the Golden State Warriors.

In the second game of the evening, the Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets. Before the teams tipped, the Warriors received their championship rings in front of their hometown crowd at Oracle Arena.

Wearing special Nike hoodies with the phrase “The Champions” on the back, the Warriors received their rings to a standing ovation.

Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was finding out the official gemstone count in the rings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, the rings have 31 diamonds in them.

Via Twitter:

Hmm. 31.

3-1.

3-1 lead.

Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.

Report: Cavaliers ditched Kyrie Irving tribute video idea vs. Celtics

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It was the first game for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland before being traded to the Celtics over the summer.

Of course, there was no love lost between the two teams nor between Cavaliers fans and Irving. Boston won the opening tip which Irving gathered, prompting a round of boos from the audience at The Q.

Perhaps more interesting was that the Cavaliers had a tribute video lined up for Irving but decided not to run it.

According to multiple reports, the video was set to run during a floating point in the game, but the operations folks in Cleveland never found the right time.

Another report from Cleveland.com has said that the aforementioned video had set off a few Cavaliers players.

Via Cleveland.com:

According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.”

Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.

A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.

The video would have upset some inside the Cleveland locker room? I wonder which ones.