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Kings, Hawks official Twitter accounts take NBA’s “play nice” memo very seriously

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The Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks played a thriller Friday night, a game with multiple lead changes in the final minute, which the Kings won on a Darren Collison driving layup with three seconds left.

But before and after that, the official Kings and Hawks Twitter accounts had a love-fest, in following with — and mocking — the NBA’s memo that teams need to not insult each other on social media.

It was brilliant.

Durant still loves Oklahoma City despite fans’ frustrations

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — As much as it still hurts for so many Oklahomans to see Kevin Durant shine elsewhere, the Golden State star remains committed to the community he called home for nearly a decade. The place where he grew into the basketball player he is today, and the man he has become.

KD departed Oklahoma City with fanfare on the 4th of July last year to chase a championship with Stephen Curry and the star-studded Warriors.

So when he goes back Saturday night for the first time it will be far from a perfectly harmonious reunion. And that’s fine with Durant. He gets it, he understands what he meant to a city that so desperately needed the lift he provided.

“I put everything into that place, so it will be great to see some people that I haven’t seen in a while,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to that.”

In December, Durant donated $57,000 to Positive Tomorrows, an Oklahoma City elementary school for homeless children that he still cares so much about – and insists he always will, wherever he is. So far, he has honored that commitment after previously giving $35,000 to the school through his foundation.

“Well, that’s real life,” Durant said in December. “I’ve been a part of that group going on four years now. Just `cuz I left there don’t mean I’ll stop building with them. That’s totally separate from this NBA stuff. Those kids mean a lot to me, definitely want to continue to keep helping them. I’m glad I can keep helping growing the school. It’s all about the community there. That was home for me for eight years. I’ve still got love for the people there.”

But did Durant have to join the Warriors of all teams? The franchise that somehow rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Thunder in a thrilling Western Conference Finals last June.

“I do know it’ll be huge for him, and them,” teammate Draymond Green said this week. “They want him coming back in there as well. It will be a huge weekend for them also. Huge for him, and if it’s huge for him, it’s huge for us. It’s like any other time, you always have ones that you have circled on the schedule.”

Golden State has already beaten Durant’s old team handily twice this season – by 47 combined points.

Durant has been brilliant in those games: 79 points on 28-for-40 shooting.

Most recently, Durant dazzled with a season-best 40 points in a 121-100 win Jan. 18 at Oracle Arena. He hit seven 3-pointers on the way to 39 points in the first meeting, a 122-96 Warriors rout Nov. 3 also at Oracle.

There are certain to be mixed feelings when he enters Chesapeake Energy Arena again.

Boos? Cheers? Both.

So stung were some fans by his decision they burned his No. 35 jersey and turned to calling him a coward.

Facing Russell Westbrook and his old teammates twice already, Durant has kept his emotions in check and flat-out dominated.

“It’s good to see everybody but once the ball’s tipped you’re just playing, just hooping. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

There is no love lost between Durant and OKC’s current superstar. No pregame pleasantries planned.

“I don’t talk to nobody during the game,” Westbrook said, noting it’s up to the fans what kind of reception they choose for KD. “Obviously, Kevin has done a lot for Oklahoma City and our team when he was here.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr changed teams so many times he became used to regular returns to arenas he once called home. Yet the reigning NBA Coach of the Year was a role player, a far different situation than Durant’s going back.

“It always gives you a bounce in your step when you go back to the place where you played. You get an emotional kickstart. Just walking into the building is exciting, seeing all your old friends and having all those memories,” he said. “… It’s a weird feeling but it’s nice because out of 82 games sometimes you need that emotion, and that’ll definitely do it. I can’t even imagine what it’ll feel like for KD, that’s a totally different level. It’s one thing to be a role player for a few years but to be a superstar in one town and have the whole place adore, the whole city, to go back is going be very emotional for him.”

You bet the Warriors want to win for him.

“He grew up there, pretty much, into a man,” Curry said. “That’s hard to turn off.”

Durant acknowledges that truth.

“It meant a lot,” he said of the community. “I had some great times there, man, never going to forget them.”

AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

Russell Westbrook, will you ever reconcile with Kevin Durant? “It’s not up to me”

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There has been plenty of pregame trolling between Golden State and Oklahoma City heading into Kevin Durant‘s return to OKC Saturday night in the most watch game of the week. None of it from Durant or Westbrook, but there has been trolling.

Some of it was really funny, like the Warriors’ official Twitter putting Andre Roberson in the picture.

Then there was Kevin Durant having a little trouble booking a restaurant. And of course, there are great T-shirts all over Oklahoma City.

At shootaround, Steven Adams had a great response to if he talked to Kevin Durant.

Westbrook himself never goes there. He is the one who had the bond with Durant, who offered to change or do whatever it took to keep him, it is Westbrook who should be the most spurned, but he has taken it in stride and seems ready to move on. Will the two ever reconcile and be tight again?

It’s interesting because Durant doesn’t seem to see their relationship as damaged to the degree Westbrook does. Where does Westbrook see that relationship, is he hurt?

Some day the two will be honored together at events and past scars will be forgotten, or at least overlooked. For right now, Westbrook and Durant are just on different paths.

Durant’s path just leads him back to Oklahoma City tonight.

Kevin Durant returns to Oklahoma City, and hires extra security just in case

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It’s the game everybody is going to be watching Saturday night: Kevin Durant makes his first return to Oklahoma City in a Golden State uniform. It’s going to be emotional — for the fans in OKC, and for Durant.

It’s not just going to rain down boos on KD, it’s going to be a thunderstorm of boos. A tropical storm hitting a Carribean island of boos.

Durant has hired a little extra security for his return, just to make sure it’s only boos that hit him, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

A heightened armed security team has been procured, tripling the normal amount of security personnel the Warriors typically travel with, league sources told ESPN….

The Warriors will not have a shootaround, being that it’s the second game of a back-to-back. However, Durant “won’t be locked in his hotel room,” a source said. He plans to venture out into the city to a certain extent, though how much is unknown.

This is a smart precaution by Durant. That vast majority of Thunder fans may be mad at Durant for leaving and feel that booing him — and a Thunder win — would be cathartic, but there might be a handful willing to go further.

How Durant handles the heightened emotions, the insults, the experience will go a long way to how the Warriors do in the game. You know Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green will want to have KD’s back, but the Warriors are on the second night of a back-to-back and the third game in four nights. Oklahoma City has a real chance in this game, but Russell Westbrook can’t just put up another triple-double, he needs to be efficient doing it. And he needs to get some help.

PBT Extra: Fan vote picks Aaron Gordon to win Dunk Contest. As do we all.

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Aaron Gordon should have won the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest last year. Arguably. He and Zach LaVine put on a show for the ages.

This year LaVine is out, and Gordon comes in the heavy favorite to win the contest on Feb. 18 (next Saturday). We polled fan via Twitter for their predictions and 56 percent picked Gordon. That’s the logical call, this could be a coronation more than a contest, and I break down the vote in this latest PBT Extra.

Second in the fan voting was Derrick Jones Jr., who has played just 15 minutes this season and has never dunked in an NBA game, but has hops. Also, I think fans are sleeping on Glenn Robinson III — that guy can get up and throw down. He’s my dark horse.