The Golden State Warriors began a three-game road trip on Friday night at the mecca of basketball that is Madison Square Garden as they faced off against the New York Knicks.
Through the first three quarters of the game, the Warriors looked disinterested as they allowed the Knicks to hang around and even hold a double-digit lead. But the fourth quarter was a very different story as the Warriors outscored the Knicks 47-16 to run away with the game and get the 128-100 win.
Durant and Curry go for 70 points against the Knicks
The Knicks led by as many as 10 points in the second half and by 6 to start the fourth quarter, yet they lost the game by 28? How is that possible? One need not look further than Kevin Durant.
Durant scored 41 points in Friday night’s win, with 25 of them coming in that fourth quarter. Durant’s 25 points in the fourth quarter was the most points he’s scored in one quarter in his entire career. In fact, Durant scored more points than the entire Knicks team in the fourth, as the Knicks scored just 16 points while the Warriors turned a close game into a rout.
Durant’s offensive efficiency was on full display on Friday night at Madison Square Garden, as he needed just 24 shots to score those 41 points and shot 70.8% from the field. It’s become a cliché at this point, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true—Durant makes it look way too easy.
KD just ran off like 14 points while I drank a glass of water. And I had the harder time— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) October 27, 2018
In addition to those 41 points, Durant finished the game with 9 rebounds and 5 assists, his fifth game with 5+ assists so far this season. While Durant’s scoring took center stage against the Knicks, there were still glimpses at the other ways he can affect a game.
While Durant had the headline-commanding performance in Friday night’s win, Stephen Curry quietly played a very good game of his own. Curry’s game against the Knicks was a lot like Durant’s game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, a strong performance that everyone would be talking about were it not for a command performance from his teammate.
Curry scored 29 points against the Knicks, going 6/11 from three-point range and showing flashes of the long-distance shooting that we all saw against the Wizards.
Pretty standard— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 27, 2018
Tune-in now on @NBCSAuthentic or @NBATV pic.twitter.com/0UARGc7QiP
On just about any other night, Curry’s three-point barrage would have been the lead story from the game. But with Durant systematically dismantling the Knicks and needing just one quarter to do it, Curry’s exploits took a bit of a backseat.
The two former MVPs have been rolling the past two games, playing aggressively on offense while also being efficient.
Kevin Durant's last two games: 71 points on 30-of-42 FG— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 27, 2018
Steph Curry's last two games: 80 points on 25-of-42 FG
Combined: 151 points on 55-of-84 FG
What we might be seeing this season from Durant and Curry, in the third of their partnership, is the two of them finally discovering how they can both be their best basketball selves while playing together. After two years and two championships, that this tandem can get better should terrify the rest of the league.
Offensive rebounds and turnovers keep Knicks in it
The undermanned Knicks were able to stay in the game in the first half, never letting the Warriors blow the game open early, and get those second-half leads because of their offensive rebounding and taking advantage of sloppy Warriors play. 7 of the Knicks’ 11 offensive rebounds came in the first half, which enabled them to stay close when the Warriors looked like they might start to really pull away. Knicks big man and noted irritant Enes Kanter was a strong presence on the offensive glass, getting three of his four offensive rebounds in the first half, allowing the Knicks to get more opportunities to score.
The Warriors also did the Knicks some favors with some sloppy play, particularly in the third quarter. The Warriors had 7 of their 14 turnovers in the third frame, which resulted in 8 Knicks points and gave the Knicks fans hope that their team might pull off the upset.
The Knicks were also buoyed by good offensive nights from Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Trey Burke. Hardaway Jr. scored 24 points against his dad’s former team while Ntilikina tied his career-high with 17 points. Coming off the bench, Burke scored 15 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter as the Knicks tried (and failed) to fend off the Warriors’ offensive onslaught.
That being said, the Knicks’ players getting going on offense might have ended up hurting them. After starting out the game knocking down a few three-pointers in a row, the Knicks fell in love with the three-point shot. Unfortunately, it did not love them back. The Knicks shot 13-for-39 from long distance, with many of those missed shots leading to points for the visiting team. The Knicks started taking long three-pointers like they were the Warriors, something that doesn’t usually work unless you have a Durant or Curry on your team.
Rough night for Klay, great night for Draymond
Klay Thompson’s rough 2018-19 season continued on Friday night. Thompson scored just 12 points against the Knicks, shooting 6/18 from the field including 0/4 from three-point range.
While in the first half it felt like Thompson’s misses were bad luck above all, in the second half it looked like he was starting to force shots rather than letting them come naturally. Eventually he’ll snap out of this shooting funk and there will be an impressive regression back to the mean, but right now it’s real tough to see Thompson struggle so much to make shots.
While Thompson’s offensive woes continued, Draymond Green had his best offensive performance of the season against the Knicks. Green scored a season-high 18 points, including going 66.67% from three-point range. Green’s three-point shot has looked a bit shaky at times this season, but against the Knicks it looked pretty good.
Green also handed out 6 assists and grabbed 3 steals in Friday night’s game, providing the perfect compliment to Durant and Curry and helping the Warriors get the win.
To close things out, I close with a song by one of New York’s greatest musicians that could also quite accurately describe Durant’s performance against the Knicks...