Warriors beat Clippers to take 3-1 series lead

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LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Klay Thompson added 32 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Clippers 113-105 Sunday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Stephen Curry was in foul trouble for the second straight game and finished with 12 points. Andrew Bogut fouled out with 5:50 remaining in the game with eight points and 10 rebounds.

The Warriors were 17 of 19 from the free throw line. They controlled the boards, 49-33, led by Curry and Bogut with 10 rebounds apiece.

Coming off a 27-point loss in Game 3, the Clippers played tougher defensively and hung in after trailing by 11 in the second quarter.

They outscored Golden State 30-25 in the third when they rallied to take a five-point lead. But Curry scored seven of the Warriors’ final 10 points to send them into the fourth ahead 87-84.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Oakland, when the two-time defending champions could close out the series.

The Clippers narrowed it to 87-86 early in the fourth, but Thompson sank his sixth 3-pointer and the Clippers never got close the rest of the way.

Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with a career-high 25 points. Danilo Gallinari added 16 points but was just 5 of 20 from the floor. Patrick Beverley had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Super subs Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell were held to 12 and 10 points, respectively. They were limited to a combined eight points in the second half.

After a quiet 12 points in Game 3, Thompson broke out for 27 points by halftime. He hit 6-of-9 3-pointers in the game.

The Clippers opened the second on a 13-3 run to tie it 35-all, but Thompson made two free throws that put Los Angeles down 10 later in the quarter.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Their streak of having at least 30 assists in three straight playoff games, which tied a franchise record, ended. They had 27 assists.

Clippers: C JaMychal Green started in place of rookie Ivica Zubac. Green scored a career playoff-high 15 points in Game 3, but had just six points. … Retiring Hall of Fame announcer Ralph Lawler turned 81. … The anthem singer was 7-year-old Malea Emma Andrawidjaja.

UP NEXT

Game 5 is Wednesday at Oracle Arena.

Andrew Bogut plans to return to Australian league next season

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Unable to find a new NBA contract for this season, Andrew Bogut went home. The Australia native signed to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL, where Bogut ended up being the league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, leading the Kings on a deep playoff run.

When that run ended, the Golden State Warriors came calling, asking him to fill a role — a role that got much larger after DeMarcus Cousins tore his quad. Bogut has played well for the Warriors in the postseason, and there is a good chance Cousins will not be back in Golden State (the Warriors can only offer him a small raise off what he made this season, that likely will not be enough, even after the injury), so the Warriors may try to retain Bogut for next season.

However, Bogut says he is returning to Australia. Speaking to Matt Logue from the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, Bogut said he gave his word to the Kings he would return.

“The be all and end all is that I gave my word (to the Kings)… That is basically what it comes down to…

“Someone outside of the Warriors could offer me a deal that would be pretty lucrative and a decent one-year deal, but I’m sold and locked in on coming to the Sydney Kings again to try and better what we did last season.”

Saying you’ll walk away from a lot of money and actually doing it are two different things, but Bogut is a man who stands by his word. He probably returns to Sydney for next season.

When that season ends, however, don’t be shocked to see Bogut back somewhere in the NBA helping a team make a playoff run.

Kevin Durant reminds everyone who he is, leads Warriors to blowout Game 3 win

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LOS ANGELES — “I’m Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am.”

“He’s right. But I already knew who Kevin Durant was,” Doc Rivers joked before Game 3 Thursday night.

Durant reminded Rivers — and everyone else — anyway.

Bouncing back from an off game a couple of nights before, Durant had 38 points on 23 shots, added 7 assists, played good defense, and none of that does credit to how much he dominated early and never let up as the Warriors cruised to a 132-105 win at Staples Center. Golden State is up 2-1 in its first-round series against the Clippers, with a chance Sunday to take complete control of the matchup.

“He said it yesterday, he’s Kevin Durant. He showed everybody who Kevin Durant is,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Was this was Kerr expected out of his star following a rough outing in Game 2? “Ya. He’s a two-time Finals MVP coming off a poor performance, this is what happens.”

It is what happens, and we have seen this movie a lot over the past five years. Some team comes out and challenges the Warriors, knicking them off for a game with a comeback or maybe just a straight punch to the gut kind of win. Then the Warriors respond with a monster game.

Durant stared in this film, but he wasn’t the only one. Stephen Curry was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, scoring 13 points. Curry and Durant outscored the Clippers 25-24 in the first quarter, and when the other Warriors jumped in, the Warriors scored 41 in the first quarter, 72 for the first half, and 132 on the night.

“[Durant] came out super aggressive, in kill mode,” Draymond Green said of Durant. “That was all the difference for us. We took control of the game right there in the first quarter and never lost control of it.”

A lot of that control stemmed from the fact the Warriors were more dialed in on defense, holding the Clippers to 33.3 percent shooting and 24 points in the first quarter. Los Angeles shot just 35 percent for the game.

That control meant Golden State went up by 31 with 7:10 in the third quarter, a score and time very reminiscent of Game 2, when the Clippers came back from that record deficit to even the series. This time the Warriors did not lose focus, they never let up on defense.

It wasn’t all focus, Kerr and company made smart adjustments, too. For the first two games, the Clippers had success with a “top lock” defense (meaning the defender isn’t between his man and the basket, instead he stands between his man and the three-point line to cut off his popping out and getting the Warriors’ favorite shot). In Game 3, Golden State started cutting back door more, taking advantage of a weakness of top lock defense. The Warriors got the ball to their cutters in creative ways, at times throwing passes from near halfcourt before the defender was really prepared. Or, the Warriors posted up Andrew Bogut or Durant, then had the top locked guys cut to the rim with their defenders trailing by so much the buckets came easily.

Now it’s on Doc Rivers and the Clippers to adjust. But if Durant is going to make another statement, it will not matter.

Even if KD didn’t see it as a statement.

“I’ve been here for 12 years. I’m 30,” Durant said after the win. “I don’t need to show nobody nothing.”

Kerr confirms DeMarcus Cousins does not need surgery, not expected to return

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It was clearly bad the second it happened — a non-contact injury where DeMarcus Cousins went to the ground grabbing his left thigh.

The next day came the MRI which showed a torn quad muscle. While the Warriors wouldn’t put an official timeline on it, Cousins was done for the postseason.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Steve Kerr confirmed that Cousins is likely done for the playoffs, but on the bright side will not need surgery.

Andrew Bogut — who was picked up by the Warriors after his Australian season ended — will be the new starting center.

Cousins was playing in just his second playoff game ever when the injury occurred, around the league there is a lot of sympathy for him. Cousins worked hard to get back from a torn Achilles, to get back on the court, and put himself in position to help a team get a ring. Now this.

It also hurts Cousins going into this summer when he is a free agent. The market for him will be even a little more tepid, which makes it possible he returns to the Warriors (although not likely).

DeMarcus Cousins likely out for rest of playoffs, diagnosed with torn quad

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DeMarcus Cousins accomplished so much before ever making the playoffs. He even signed with the Warriors for just the taxpayer mid-level exception to join a winner.

But, in just the second playoff game of his career, Cousins suffered an injury that’s as bad as feared after doctors got a look at the MRI. From the Warriors’ official press release:

“The MRI confirmed that Cousins has suffered a torn left quadriceps muscle. The injury will sideline Cousins indefinitely and he will begin rehabilitation immediately.”

The fast end of the recovery timeline has Cousins back for the Finals, if the Warriors make it. More likely he is done for the season.

This is such a bummer for Cousins. He missed the end of last season – including the Pelicans’ playoff run – with a torn Achilles, worked his way back and now this.

For a 28-year-old big man, multiple significant leg injuries are quite concerning. The timing is just awful. Not only was Cousins just beginning his long-awaited playoff run, he will be a free agent this summer.

This increases the chances Golden State re-signs him. Unless the Warriors clear cap space or reduce payroll enough to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, the highest salary they can offer is just $6,404,400. If Cousins re-signs for that on another one-year deal, his highest starting salary with Golden State in 2020 would be just $11,207,700 (again, unless the Warriors open cap space). But, after this injury, other teams might not rush to offer Cousins more financial security this summer.

In the meantime, the Warriors have more pressing concerns. They’re trying to win a title this year.

They’re prepared for Cousins to be unavailable. Considering his torn Achilles, they had to be. Golden State has several capable options at center: Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Andrew Bogut and Jordan Bell. Looney or Bogut will likely start with Green playing high-leverage situations at center. I doubt Bell cracks the rotation, but he still provides insurance.

Of course, the Warriors also have Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. That historic assembly of talent softens the blow of this loss.