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Warrior Wonder: Kevin Durant shines in lackluster Game 4 for Golden State

On a night when the Warriors shot under 40%, Kevin Durant’s ability to create offense stood out.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News captured the mood of the Golden State Warriors’ 103-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 pretty well in his recap yesterday evening.

Pride is a powerful force.

So is apathy.

The Spurs played Sunday’s Game 4 with the former. The Warriors started the contest with the latter.

There just isn’t much more to say about the game overall.

After we all thought the Warriors had flipped the switch and were ready to complete a first round sweep of the Spurs, they came out in Game 4 looking like they had completely taken it for granted, which is ineffective when your opponent is ready to surrender themselves to the moment.

In fairness, the Spurs’ Game 4 performance was by far the most complete game they’ve played all series — they shot an uncharacteristically hot 53.6% from the 3-point arc, scored 21 points off the Warriors’ 18 turnovers, and just generally played with more energy. Indeed, it was just an inspired performance by the Spurs at home with their backs against the wall in an elimination game -- nobody likes to get swept, the Spurs played like they just refused to lose.

The Warriors cut down on the turnovers in the second half, but their shooting was atrocious: they shot just 37.8% from the field overall and 7-for-28 from beyond the 3-point arc, where they have made a name for themselves during the Stephen Curry era. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 8-for-30 (sharing the responsibility for those bricks roughly equally) and the team shot just 27.3% from the field in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

So given the circumstances, it’s hard not to commend Kevin Durant for his game-high 34 points despite a tepid 12-for-28 shooting performance from the field.

Durant’s big second half

Where Durant really came up big was the second half when he had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the bring the Warriors within two points with just under six minutes left in the game.

While folks on Twitter have criticized Durant for seemingly reverting to his OKC-iso ball days, both Durant and coach Steve Kerr said after the game that they were just simplifying their offense to high screens that were effective in creating shots for a while, as reported by Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News.

“We’re just attacking, so we just want to go,” Kerr said. “We just want to push it and we ran a lot of high screens. It’s just the end of the game.”

At the end of the game, though, that effectiveness wore off. The Warriors missed their last seven shots. Then again, that might explain why the Warriors have rarely run pick-and-roll plays all season. The Warriors rank 29th out of 30 NBA teams in pick-and-roll plays involving the ball handler (10. 9 percent).

After the and-1 drive that earned Durant his 34th point with 4:11 left in the game, the Warriors’ offense collapsed (or continued collapsing, depending on your perspective).

Threes from Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Nick Young down the stretch of a playoff game down by eight points just aren’t ideal.

Warriors’ shot chart for the last four minutes of Game 4
NBA.com/stats

Regardless of whatever you think about that approach, the bottom line is that their offense simply wasn’t dynamic enough to stay in the game once LaMarcus Aldridge started having prayers answered and Manu Ginobili began re-living his glory days.

But, whatever... let’s just hope we see less of this lackluster play from here on.

Poll

Who was the Warrior Wonder for Game 4 against the Spurs?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Kevin Durant
    (92 votes)
  • 21%
    Draymond Green
    (32 votes)
  • 1%
    JaVale McGee
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Klay Thompson
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Andre Iguodala
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    Kevon Looney
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    Shaun Livingston
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    David West
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Quinn Cook
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Nick Young
    (5 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now