As has been extensively documented, the Warriors’ last visit to Staples Center to play the Los Angeles Clippers was an unpleasant one, especially for Kevin Durant. An overtime loss and a harsh verbal confrontation with his friend Draymond Green, that game in November kicked off the toughest and most challenging stretch of Durant’s career. It was clear Durant was negatively affected and many wondered (perhaps even hoped) that this would be the end of the Warriors, causing their team to tear itself apart and bring the good feelings in the Bay Area to an end.
This was very much in the air when the Warriors returned to Los Angeles to play the Clippers for the first time since that incident on Friday night. But the 112-94 beatdown the Warriors handed their Pacific Division-rivals made it crystal clear that those days are very much in the rear-view mirror and that the feeling surrounding the team was radically different.
Really nice win for Warriors. Cousins looked solid in 15 minutes and was able to start building chemistry on the floor with his teammates. Warriors get their seventh victory in a row and everybody seems very happy. A much better outcome for group compared to last game at Staples.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) January 19, 2019
While DeMarcus Cousins has received the majority of the plaudits for his play in his first game wearing a Warriors uniform (quite rightfully so), Durant’s steady play deserves a little love. It was a performance that allowed Durant to exorcise the remaining demons and feelings from that game in November.
KD glides above Clyde
Durant scored 24 points against the Clippers, taking advantage of the Clippers’ defensive approach. The Clippers directed so much of their defensive energy at Stephen Curry, making sure there was someone on him at all times, grabbing his jersey and staying in his space, which left Durant free to operate.
10 of Durant’s points came in the first quarter, allowing the Warriors to open up an early slim lead that they would eventually turn into a massive advantage in the second half. Two of those first-quarter points came on this thunderous dunk, one that paired nicely with the impressive slam that gave Cousins his first points as a member of the Warriors.
Durant also got in on the act from long distance, knocking down a couple of shots from three-point range, including this one that pushed the Warriors’ lead to 20 points late in the fourth quarter.
Durant’s 24 points on Friday night moved him up one more spot on the all-time scoring list, passing by one of the great scorers in the history of the game.
Kevin Durant (22,197) surpassed Clyde Drexler (22,195) for 31st play on the NBA's all-time scoring list.— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 19, 2019
There were dimes and boards too
Durant didn’t just affect the game with his scoring. He also finished the game with five assists, one of which came as he set up Cousins for his first points of the season.
This game was Durant’s sixth game with 5+ assists in the last seven. We’ve become accustomed to Durant’s 5+ assists this season, but it is worth remembering that this is something new for him and a testament to his continued growth and development since joining the Warriors.
Durant was also an active contributor, along with Cousins and Green, on the glass. Durant finished Friday night’s game with seven rebounds, snatching them away from the Clippers which allowed the Warriors to push the ball and attack the Clippers.
Durant’s defense was also a factor in the Warriors getting this win. Finishing the game with two steals and two blocks, Durant helped slow down the Clippers’ Tobias Harris, the Clippers’ leading scorer and number one option. Durant’s toughness was evident in this game as well, as he battled through some questionable calls by the officials and slight injuries to his knees and wrists to remain a key cog in the Warriors’ gameplan on Friday night.
It wasn’t a perfect game for Durant as he was still responsible for half of the Warriors’ 10 turnovers. But even with those imperfections, it was still a steady performance from Durant, giving the Warriors a little bit of everything as the team earned their seventh-straight win.
Good vibes abound
The most important thing about this win over the Clippers, especially when compared to that mid-November meeting between the two teams, is the vibe the team was giving off after the game. Durant was a big part of this, joking with both his teammates and the media postgame.
Kevin Durant jokes about DeMarcus Cousins: “Hopefully that’s the last time we give him a standing O after he fouls out.” pic.twitter.com/vr1qN8b13K— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 19, 2019
The last time the Warriors visited the Clippers, many hoped with bated breath that an onslaught of negativity would be released, causing the Warriors to fall apart while pushing Durant out the door. On Friday night, Durant and the Warriors looked as happy as could be and like they were ready to show the rest of the league just how great they can be. That will put smiles on the faces of everyone in Dub Nation and leave everyone else to weep and gnash their teeth.
Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Los Angeles Clippers
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