The Warriors lost to the Jazz 105-99 in a game that didn't mean much to them in the standings. However, it was a good opportunity to re-acclimate Durant with the rest of the team and get a feel for the Jazz, who the Warriors could meet in the second round of the playoffs.
Since Curry and Durant haven't played together since February 28th, when Durant injured his knee, Steve Kerr had them on the floor together for a significant portion of the game. Durant was quiet in the first half, intent on moving the ball around, while Curry flourished — going off for 21 first-half points. It seemed as though Durant was just trying to stay within the flow of the offense, taking only five first-half shots in 17 minutes of play.
Despite Curry’s big half, he started the game by deferring to Durant in a way that hopefully doesn't continue in the future, passing up an open three for a mid-range shot by Durant. The offense is considerably more dangerous when Curry is aggressive, pulling up from unthinkable distances and bending the defense. Perhaps Durant is aware of this, as he later passed out of the post for a Curry three despite having the smaller George Hill on him.
In the second half, Durant showed everyone how good his knee feels and incessantly attacked the basket. Early in the third, he went at Joe Ingles in transition and showed off a nifty Euro step before hitting a floater. He then shook Dante Exum with a nasty crossover and slammed home his most vicious dunk since returning from injury. And, if that weren't enough, Durant later posterized Joe Bolomboy.
Via the Mercury News:
“Felt really good,” Durant said of the two dunks. “Can’t lie. I’ve been a little hesitant early on these first few games. Seems like both second halves I’ve just been saying forget it, going out and trying some stuff. Felt good.”
While Durant is clearly just as explosive as before, his outside shot has eluded him to this point. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton recently wrote an article that assessed how other players have fared after returning from the same injury Durant suffered. Pelton found that players usually performed the same overall or, in some cases, better than they did before suffering the injury, but most saw a decline in three-point percentage. Field-goal percentage on two-point shots, however, went up. This trend has continued with Durant, who made six of his seven two-pointers, but missed all five of his threes. He is 0-9 from deep in his first two games back, combined.
There isn’t a lot to take out of a game that was about chemistry for the Warriors but had playoff implications for the Jazz, who are tied with the Clippers for the fourth seed. Golden State’s defense was lax, and the starters watched the end of the game from the bench for resting purposes.
Meanwhile, the Jazz, particularly George Hill, could hardly miss. Gobert also had a monster game with 17 points, 18 rebounds, and two blocks.
With the playoffs approaching, the Warriors only have luxury issues to deal with.