So many complaints. Everyone wants answers. Everyone wants immediate fixes. And yours truly is a victim to this narrowed type of thinking at times. It's not a bad thing, per se, but this game, specifically, was about the second-best basketball player in the world. It was about Oklahoma City Thunder's best player, Kevin Durant, dropping 54 points on a legion of solid wing defenders the likes of Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. No Russell Westbrook? No problem. The trio of the Golden State Warriors best perimeter defenders had less than a zero percent chance of even slowing down a white-hot Durant in the Thunder's 127-121 victory. And the score belied the rubble with which Durant left the Warriors defense in. Shambles would be a severe understatement here.
19-28, 5-9, 11-13, 54.
Anytime a great player starts warming up, coaches love to preach to their team to take the ball out of their hands. "Let the other guys beat you!" they needlessly say. No, really? With Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins on the floor, the most obvious notion is to force-feed the ball to those guys in the hopes they play like the offensive zeroes they usually are. But with most problems, the solutions are easier said than done. The Thunder found ways to isolate Durant in the block or the top of the key so if the Warriors doubled, it would essentially leave Perkins a layup or a Serge Ibaka jumper. The Warriors will take those but any athlete that considers themselves a professional - yes, even Perkins and Fisher - will nail those with efficiency. The other problem? Durant's ball-handling has vastly improved since two seasons ago and he easily split multiple double teams to crush an interior of David Lee and Marreese Speights.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Durant's outburst was the relative quietness in which he poured in bucket after bucket. There was little ball-hogging. He didn't come down the court begging for the ball and hoisting up a 35-footer in hopes of tearing the roof down. He methodically went about his work, working in the flow of the offense. Granted, the flow of the offense revolves around him but it wasn't until the fourth quarter when I realized he was going to drop 50. Durant's going to break Kobe Bryant's 81 one day. let's just hope it isn't against Harrison Barnes' poor soul.
All this to say that the Warriors had no chance tonight, no matter what adjustment, defender, game plan they used. It wasn't about the Warriors tonight. It was about the best pure scorer in the whole darned world doing what he does best. And no one being able to do a goddamn thing about it.
Kevin Durant took 28 shots, his true shooting percentage was 80.1%, and he missed his last three shots.— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) January 18, 2014
@ESPNStatsInfo Durant with 54 points on only 68 touches. Only had the ball in his hands for 3:17 all game. Crazy efficient #SportVU— Brian Kopp (@bkoppstats) January 18, 2014
He's back! Curry started hot and stayed that way throughout the game, shooting 11-18 overall, 6-10 from three, and 9-11 from the foul line for 37 points. The shot likely never left but it was nice to see Curry have a great shooting game, with the floater and midrange flowing, after a rough month of shooting.
That being said, his most impressive play came with a right-handed zip pass from the above-the-break three-point line on the right side to Klay Thompson in the left corner. The pass hit Thompson right in his wheelhouse and Thompson, without any extra motion, shot and scored. Beautiful. Unfortunately, Klay's own stalwart shooting night (9-17, 6-9, 26 points) wasn't enough.
1. Is it time to panic about Iguodala's hamstring yet? He's shooting less, scoring less, and looked a bit slow on the defensive end. That being said he was never a great shooter and Durant can make anyone look awful on any given night. We'll chalk this one up to a bad night and nothing more.
2. Harrison Barnes, le sigh.
3. Draymond Green is always a delight to watch play basketball. He's outplayed Barnes this season but Mark Jackson has refused to bring him off the bench first. Ethan Strauss of ESPN guesses that's because management doesn't want to admit a second round pick is performing better than their first round pick. Perhaps that's fair, but in a season where the Warriors want to not only make the playoffs and win the championship, seeding is important and each regular season game is tantamount to that goal. Time to get the best players on the court.
4. I don't care for nicknames but this Steezus fella is good by me as long as he doesn't turn the ball over, cuts the absurd passes into the third row, and can make a jumper once in a while. Jordan Crawford's first game as a Warrior went extremely well, given what overshadowed it during the game. Besides one egregious turnover off his foot (just trying to fit in) he made a couple isolation jumpers/threes and attacked the basket off the dribble. All in all a success.
5. Andrew Bogut barely played the second half. Again. He's probably as happy as will be the fans of the team that loses the Seattle-San Francisco game this Sunday.
The Golden State Warriors head to New Orleans to take on a depleted Pelicans squad on a back-to-back. In their last meeting, the Warriors barely held off the Pellies in a one-point victory.