War­riors show bal­ance against Orlando Magic

Starters all strong as team plays with­out Curry.

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Mark Me­d­ina mme­d­ina@ba­yare­anews­group.com

OAK­LAND » With one gi­ant leap, Kevin Du­rant un­veiled his in­fi­nite wingspan and de­fen­sive prow­ess. With two gi­ant crossovers, Du­rant show­cased both his han­dles and his range.

Amid his hopes that the gen­eral pub­lic rec­og­nizes him as a two-way player, Du­rant demon­strated those skills on lit­er­ally one pos­ses­sion. As Magic guard and San Jose na­tive Aaron Gor­don drove to­ward the rim, Du­rant swat­ted at the ball from be­hind. Du­rant grabbed the ball, led the team up the court and then crossed Gor­don over twice be­fore sink­ing a 17foot jumper.

“That was a good se­quence right there,” Du­rant said. “I needed it to juice me up a lit­tle bit more.”

One play summed up Du­rant’s over­all ef­fec­tive­ness in the War­riors’ 110-100 vic­tory over the Orlando Magic on Mon­day at Or­a­cle Arena.

While of­fer­ing an ex­pected team-lead­ing 21 points on 9-of-18 shoot­ing and seven re­bounds, Du­rant also as­sumed an­other role as play­maker. With Stephen Curry side­lined with a right thigh con­tu­sion, Du­rant shared in­creased ball-han­dling du­ties with veter­ans Shaun Liv­ingston and An­dre Igu­doala, re­sult­ing in a sea­son-high eight as­sists.

“Some­times I’m more ag­gres­sive to pass than I am to score. I just have to find a bal­ance,” Du­rant said. “Tonight we just had to do it in a dif­fer­ent way. We didn’t have the 3-point shoot­ing and spread­ing the floor that we usu­ally have.”

And as a re­sult, the War­riors went 8 of 23 from 3-point range, a far cry from the league-lead­ing 41.5 per­cent mark on 33.2 at­tempts they have with Curry in the lineup.

The War­riors com­pen­sated else­where. Dray­mond Green posted 20 points. Klay Thomp­son added 15. Mean­while, Liv­ingston fin­ished with a sea­son-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shoot­ing as the start­ing point guard.

“This is good for us, hon­estly,” Liv­ingston said. “It prob­a­bly sucks for the fans. They want to see Steph. I get it. But for a team and from a bas­ket­ball per­spec­tive, this is ac­tu­ally good for us.”

War­riors coach Steve Kerr stressed Curry would have played, “if it were a play­off game.” Kerr then added

that Curry’s right thigh is “pretty sore” and sim­i­lar to Du­rant’s left thigh con­tu­sion that side­lined him last Wed­nes­day against Mi­ami.

Curry suf­fered the in­jury af­ter fight­ing through a hard screen against Six­ers guard Ben Sim­mons in the first quar­ter of Sun­day’s game. Though Curry went to the bench and sub­se­quently vis­ited the trainer’s room, Curry played for most of the game and did not feel ini­tial pain.

As the War­riors ex­pected, Curry felt more pain in en­su­ing days. He re­ceived treat­ment dur­ing the team’s op­tional work­out day on Sun­day as well dur­ing morn­ing shootaround on Mon­day. Kerr sounded op­ti­mistic, though, Curry will heal in time for Thurs­day’s game in Bos­ton.

But just like in last week’s vic­tory with­out Du­rant, the War­riors man­aged just fine with­out Curry.

Af­ter hold­ing a 56-56 tie at half­time, the War­riors stormed out to a 10-2 run to open the third quar­ter. While post­ing 32 thirdquar­ter points that mir­rored their league-lead­ing sea­son av­er­age, the War­riors held Orlando to 19 points on a 4-of-23 mark from the field.

• Du­rant sounded hum­bled about shar­ing the GQ cover with for­mer NFL quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick.

While Du­rant was named the mag­a­zine’s “Cham­pion of the Year’ for win­ning his first NBA ti­tle with the War­riors, Kaeper­nick was named “Ci­ti­zen of the Year” for first kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them in the 2016 sea­son to protest racial in­equal­ity and po­lice bru­tal­ity.

“He’s be­ing coura­geous. He knew he would take a lot of heat for what he did and he stood up for the peo­ple that can’t stand up for them­selves,” Du­rant said. “As an ath­lete, we’re taught to shut up and play our sport. For him to do that, he put ev­ery­thing on

the line, man. You’ve got to re­spect it. We all re­spect it. We all stand be­hind him and sup­port him as ath­letes. He makes us proud to be part of the ath­letic com­mu­nity.”

• The War­riors re­called guard Quinn Cook from their G-League team in Santa Cruz on Mon­day be­cause of Curry’s in­jury.

Cook has av­er­aged 26 points, 7.4 as­sists and 5.8 re­bounds in five games

with Santa Cruz.

Af­ter grow­ing up as child­hood friends in the Wash­ing­ton D.C. area, Cook called Du­rant “my big brother.”

“We dreamed about play­ing in the NBA. We never thought we’d be on the same team,” said Cook, who played at the end of Mon­day’s game. “For him to be here with me through this is one of the best feel­ings.”

BE­LOW: ELSA — GETTY IMAGES; ABOVE: NHAT V. MEYER — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Kevin Du­rant talks to Orlando’s Aaron Gor­don af­ter Gor­don com­mit­ted an of­fen­sive foul on Mon­day.

PHOTOS BY NHAT V. MEYER — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

War­riors coach Steve Kerr dis­putes a call with the ref­eree dur­ing Golden State’s 110100win over Orlando on Mon­day night. The War­riors have won seven straight games.

The War­riors’ Kevin Du­rant dunks against the Orlando Magic’s Ter­rence Ross on Mon­day night.

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