OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Kevin Durant established Golden State’s defensive energy by swatting away shots early. Eventually, the Warriors got going on the other end as they almost always do.
Durant had 15 points, six assists and three blocks after losing a close friend earlier in the day, and the Warriors ran away from the Indiana Pacers 112-89 on Thursday night.
Durant led a balanced Warriors attack, playing the same day childhood friend Cliff Dixon was shot to death in Atlanta. Warriors guard Quinn Cook also was close with Dixon as they’re all from the Washington D.C./Maryland area.
Stephen Curry scored 12 of his 15 points with four 3-pointers during the Warriors’ 35-point third quarter in which they limited Indiana to 19.
“Tonight I thought our spirit and our energy were fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said, crediting his group for being “engaged.”
Indiana ended its four-game swing out West by losing an eighth straight road game and missing another chance to clinch a playoff berth following a 115-109 defeat at the Clippers on Tuesday night.
The Warriors, whose defense has become a greater focus with the playoffs approaching, have allowed their fewest points in two of the past four games. Oklahoma City scored 88 points Saturday before the two-time defending champions held down Indiana.
Klay Thompson began 0 for 7, missing his first five 3-pointers, and wound up with 18 points on 7-for-18 shooting. He scored his first field goal of the night, which he followed with another basket the next possession, at the 7:46 mark of the second quarter and his first 3 came in the final minute of the first half as Golden State built a 53-43 lead at the break.
“Well I finally decided to make a shot, so that felt good,” Thompson cracked.
Golden State returned from an impressive 3-1 road trip – with wins at Houston, Oklahoma City and Minnesota and a loss at San Antonio – to play its first game at Oracle Arena since a 115-111 flop against lowly Phoenix on March 10.
DeMarcus Cousins returned after missing two games with a sore right ankle and had 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Andrew Bogut received a warm welcome for his home debut after re-joining the Warriors on the road. The 7-foot big man played on Golden State’s 2015 championship team and the 73-win team the following season that lost in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and he got hurt in Game 5 of the finals and missed the rest of the series.
“In my old age you get a bit sentimental,” Bogut said. “It’s funny how life works, right?”
Both teams had slow starts: The game was tied at 19 after the first quarter, when the Warriors were 1 of 10 on 3s.
“I thought our defensive intensity was good in the first half, and what happens in this league is when you’re not scoring points the flood gates can open,” Pacers assistant Dan Burke said.
Kerr still expects Bogut to make an impact even with Cousins healthy again and despite “an insurance-policy role.”
Bogut had seven rebounds and four points – shooting 1 for 8 – in nine minutes.
And Bogut was greeted exactly how Kerr figured – with “a raucous reception.”
The big man waved and smiled as fans cheered when video highlights were shown on the big screen with “Welcome back Andrew Bogut.”
“I think our fans recognize that, in many ways, Andrew represented the shift in the Warriors organization and its emphasis on defense,” Kerr said. “I think that trade was really kind of the first domino to fall in terms of – well Steph’s drafting was the first one, let’s not forget that one – but shortly thereafter Andrew came over in the trade and there was an organizational shift toward a defensive mindset which I think Mark Jackson implemented and the players started to reflect that philosophy.”
Pacers: G Darren Collison sat out a second straight game with a bruised right quadriceps muscle. When he missed Tuesday it snapped his streak of 71 straight starts this season. … Indiana is 4-9 on the road vs. the Western Conference, having lost the last five.
Warriors: All five Warriors starters scored in double figures for the fourth time, with Golden State winning each of those. … The Warriors won 132-100 at Indiana on Jan. 28, getting 39 assists and shooting 54.1 percent and going 13 of 31 on 3s. … Golden State is 27-4 when notching 30 or more assists (32 on Thursday). … Bogut is three regular-season games shy of 700 in 14 seasons.
Pacers: Host Nuggets on Sunday.
Warriors: Host Mavericks on Saturday night having won 12 straight at home in the series.
ATLANTA (AP) Trae Young scored 23 points, including a go-ahead three-point play, and the Hawks beat Utah 117-114 on Thursday night to end the Jazz’s five-game winning streak.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 34 points.
It was a costly loss. The Jazz entered the game fifth in the Western Conference but only a half-game ahead of a pack of three teams tied for sixth.
Utah led 110-109 before Young’s basket and free throw with 1:47 gave the Hawks the lead.
A slam by Gobert, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds, cut Atlanta’s lead to 114-112. Dedmon made two free throws. Following a layup by Mitchell, Dedmon made only one of two free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining to give Utah, trailing 117-114, a chance.
Vince Carter fouled Kyle Korver on what was initially ruled a three-shot foul. A review determined Korver would only shoot two free throws. Korver missed both free throws, the second one intentionally, and Mitchell missed a last-second 3-pointer from the corner.
Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter, who had 14 points, sank a 3-pointer to cut Utah’s lead to 99-98 midway through the final period. Ricky Rubio answered with two straight jumpers, including a 3-pointer, and set up a layup by Derrick Favors that pushed the lead to 106-98.
After going 12 of 21 on 3-pointers, Atlanta led 65-54 at halftime.
Mitchell opened the second half with a steal and jam to start a 9-0 run. Gobert had a tip-in and made a free throw in the run. A three-point play by Rubio tied the game at 71-all. Utah took the lead on Royce O'Neale‘s 3-pointer and stretched the lead to 82-73 – capping a 28-8 run to open the half.
Jazz: Derrick Favors had 15 points and 15 rebounds. Rubio had 17 points and seven assists. … Each of Utah’s five straight wins had been by margins of at least 15 points. … Korver, who played for Atlanta from 2012-17, was honored with a video tribute and received an ovation during a first-period timeout.
Hawks: Kent Bazemore sank three 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the third period to cut Utah’s lead to 91-86 entering the fourth. … Dedmon had 18 points. … Huerter has been overshadowed by fellow rookie Young but also has become a starter with a role in the team’s long-term future. “I think the beauty is he’s a modern day perimeter player,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. Huerter has five games with at least five 3s. Only Young, with six such games, has more among the league’s rookies this season.
Jazz: Visit Chicago on Saturday night.
Hawks: Host Philadelphia on Saturday night.
We all remember what it was like to be a young NBA fan. Hell, the 20-year anniversary of my first NBA game was literally today and I wrote an entire piece about it. The impact of seeing and meeting players in person has on kids cannot be understated.
That’s why it was so heartening to see one young Houston Rockets fan meet Chris Paul and get some serious swag signed by the future Hall of Famer.
A lot of these videos are great, but see if you can tell why this one is so good to watch.
I really liked this video because the kid goes from not being able to control his emotions, and crying, to smiling for the camera in a span of about six seconds.
Between Paul making this kid’s day and Kevin Durant delivering pizzas to hotel rooms, I’d say NBA players are doing pretty good with the proletariat these days.
Kevin Durant has seemed like an enigma much of his career, and as time has gone on during his tenure with the Golden State Warriors, He’s perhaps seen as a bit too sensitive and unable to manage his public perception of his identity.
That’s why it was cool to see Durant do something a bit more laid back. You know, like deliver some pizzas to some kids at their hotel.
In a video posted to Twitter this week, Durant surprise two young kids by delivering pizza to their hotel room.
How these kids weren’t losing their minds is beyond me. If an NBA player came and delivered pizza to me when I was their age, I might be too excited to even eat.
Maybe it was because they’re Timberwolves fans? Hard to say.