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Kevin Durant steps up at center in Warriors’ Game 2 win over Cavaliers

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Draymond Green coughed up the ball then fouled LeBron James in frustration. As soon as the whistle blew, Green clapped in dismay – at himself, the referee or both. It was his fourth foul and, early in the third quarter, that sent him to the bench, where he continued to stew.

The Warriors wouldn’t be able to turn to their vaunted death lineup with Green at center.

Andre Iguodala entered the game for Green. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue countered with Channing Frye for Tristan Thompson, a rare opportunity to use Frye without Green exposing him. Steve Kerr adjusted with Shaun Livingston for Zaza Pachulia.

In sum, Golden State swapped a center and power forward for a point guard and wing. That left Kevin Durant at center – to spectacular result.

The Warriors outscored Cleveland 18-11 in six minutes with Durant at center during their Game 2 win. Durant made a 3-pointer late in the first quarter at center and Golden State expanded its lead by four in the third quarter – with LeBron James on the court – with Durant at center.

It’s a small sample, but the Warriors with Durant at center in Game 2:

  • Offensive rating: 126.8
  • Defensive rating: 91.7
  • Net rating: +35.1

Any advantage Golden State gets with LeBron on the court is big. The Warriors should dominate the few minutes he sits.

Durant provides great floor spacing at small forward, let alone power forward, let alone center. And he has become capable of anchoring a defense, at least in spurts.

On a certain level, “7-footer plays center” is a strange headline. But Durant’s thin frame and incredible ball skills make him an odd fit at the position.

Golden State will probably still use Green as its primary unorthodox center. He’s stronger and more capable of handling that physical burden. Durant didn’t play much center in the regular season.

But it must be nice for the Warriors to know they have another appealing option in reserve.

Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan fined $15,000 for criticizing referees

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The Raptors lost to the Warriors on Saturday, and DeMar DeRozan – despite his own brilliant performance – was irked.

The Toronto guard seemed particularly upset about a review of an out-of-bounds call in the final seconds. After initially giving the ball to the Raptors, officials said it touched DeRozan while he was out of bounds and granted Golden State possession:

The NBA’s replay guidelines say (emphasis mine): “Referees can only initiate a review on a called out-of-bounds play (for example, not one where an out-of-bounds might have occurred) and only those involving doubt as to which player caused the ball to go out (not those, for example, where a player stepped on the line).”

DeRozan

I mean, it’s frustrating being out there feeling like you playing 5-on-8. It’s just what it feel like, period. Some of them calls was terrible, period.

I thought you couldn’t even do that. I’m not even a referee, and I know that rule. So, somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

The NBA corrected him in the two-minute report, saying “After communicating with the Replay Center, the ruling on the floor of Raptors possession is overturned and the Warriors are awarded possession because the ball touches DeRozan’s (TOR) leg while his body is out of bounds before Curry (GSW) knocks the ball out. Referees were able to review two aspects of this out-of-bounds play since they were part of the same sequence.”

Then, the league fined him.

NBA release:

Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan has been fined $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The comments were made following the Raptors’ 127-125 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, Jan. 13

Saying “5-on-8” seems to be a secret code word for getting fined. I’m not sure whether the rest of DeRozan’s comments would have gotten him fined, but that phrase almost certainly did him in.

Kyle Lowry on plan to meet Ben Simmons after ejections: ‘Put it this way, I was back there’

AP Photo/Rich Schultz
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As Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons were ejected late in the 76ers’ win over the Raptors yesterday, the players appeared to challenge each other to meet in back.

Lowry eagerly left the court and headed through the tunnel. Simmons appeared much more reluctant at that point.

Despite a report of a confrontation in the hallway, Simmons said nothing escalated, as he went to his locker room.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet

TKO.

Warriors complained of no hot water in showers in Cleveland

Michael Hickey/Getty Images
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The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.

Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.

“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.

No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.

That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.

Giannis Antetokounmpo assists fastbreak dunk with football-style long snap (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.

Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.

In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.

NBC Sports Washington: