Warriors show balance against Orlando Magic
Starters all strong as team plays without Curry.
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.”
Kevin Durant talks to Orlando’s Aaron Gordon after Gordon committed an offensive foul on Monday.
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.