The Mercury News
Big 3 click as Warriors dominate
OAKLAND — Stephen Curry planted for a 3 on the left wing. Two Los Angeles Clippers closed out. Curry pump-faked. Both went flying. So he drove.
A backpedalling DeAndre Jordan was left as the lone remaining rim deterrent. Curry could’ve attacked him, but there was no need. Klay Thompson stood in the right corner, Kevin Durant on the right wing. J.J. Redick floated in between, by himself, forced to choose.
Redick picked Thompson, leaving Durant without a defender within 8 feet. Curry passed it, Durant hit it and Tuesday night’s avalanche had begun.
The final: Warriors 120, Clip-
The first points: that Durant 3, his first as a Warrior in Oracle Arena, 84 seconds into his debut. Seated 30 feet away, courtside, major- ity owner Joe Lacob burst to his feet, unleashed a double fist-pump and looked ready to rush the floor. Five seats down, Durant’s agent, Rich Kleiman, clapped as it went through.
Those two, among many others, helped create this monster. Now the rest of the NBA is getting a taste of what it’ll be like dealing with it.
Four possessions after the Durant 3, Curry hit one, set up by Zaza Pachulia. Fifty-five seconds later, off a nice swing pass from Durant, Thompson quicktriggered one through from the corner. Thirty seconds after that, a Durant drive and kick found Draymond Green on the wing.
The game was less than five minutes old. But, already, all four Warriors’ All-Stars had hit a 3. Green’s put the Warriors up 11. The lead was 16 at the end of the first quarter. It was 38 by halftime. It was 53 at one point in the third quarter.
“That’s the way we play,” Green said. “If you’re open, shoot the ball. That’s all it was. It felt good to get rolling a bit. That’s really the first time it’s happened with this new group.”
This was just one game — one exhibition game. But it was the nation’s first true taste of what this collection of talent can do when clicking. After a sluggish opener in Vancouver, the Warriors had a practice and a shootaround before Tuesday night’s ESPN showcase against the Clippers. It looked like they’d fast-forwarded four months.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr promised to play his starters more than 20 minutes. Clippers coach Doc Rivers did the same. To many, these Clippers are supposed to be the Warriors’ toughest test out West. They may prove to be. But they looked more junior varsity than June threat in this exhibition.
Durant was the headliner. Sixty-five minutes before tip, he burst through the tunnel for his pregame workout to a loud ovation. He was announced first in the starting lineup introductions, walking out to an even louder response. Then he nailed that first 3, jumpstarting his big night.
Durant closed the first quarter with a slick driveand-layup and then closed his night with a vicious spike of an Austin Rivers hook shot, his third block of the game. Durant finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his 25 minutes. He didn’t like his three turnovers.
“Today was pretty good for us, but we can tighten up a couple more areas,” he said. “Eighteen turnovers is something we don’t want.”
For the second straight game, Thompson was the leading scorer. He went off for 30 points in only 22 minutes, making 10 of his 14 shots and six of his nine 3s, finding gobs of space on a batch of his looks while only needing a sliver of a window for his others.
Thompson rather famously said this summer that, even with Durant, he’s not sacrificing this season. So far, in his 40 exhibition minutes, he’s taken 27 shots, including 20 3s.
“You’re coming down and you see the weapons we have,” Curry said, shaking his head. “As long as we make the right play, the ball moves, it’s gonna find somebody that’s gonna knock down a shot. That’s always fun.”
Curry’s stat line was relatively quiet: 14 points and five assists in 24 minutes. But he may have had the game’s most memorable highlight. Midway through the second quarter, he hit Clippers big man Brandon Bass — looking helpless after a switch — with a three-pronged crossover, freeing himself up for a soft baseline floater. As it went through, the Warriors bench went wild.
“When Steph made the move, I turned into a fan,” Durant said. “When Klay got hot, I turned into a fan. When Dray got to the rack for a dunk, you really enjoy those plays. You appreciate those plays.”
This season, it seems there will be plenty.
After hip surgery back n in April, second-year forward Kevon Looney missed Monday’s practice and Tuesday’s game. The team lists Looney as day-to-day.