Warriors

With Curry out, Durant shows you exactly why Warriors went all in for him

With Curry out, Durant shows you exactly why Warriors went all in for him

OAKLAND -- Exhibit A: 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. A triple-double and two blocked shots. Warriors win in Charlotte.

Exhibit B: 36 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks. Warriors win in Detroit.

Exhibit C: 28 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Warriors win at home over Portland.

Exhibit D, Thursday night at Oracle Arena, in a 112-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks: 36 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.

This is why the Warriors invested time and money and energy 18 months ago in their shameless pursuit of Kevin Durant. This is why a platoon of them took cross-country flights. This is why they embraced the possibility of rejection. This is why any possibility of failing and having to resort to Plan B put knots in their bellies.

For those times when they would be without Stephen Curry, their leader and a two-time MVP, they could turn to Durant, himself a former MVP and four-time scoring champ still in the prime of his career.

“He’s just really, really good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says. “KD is one of the most talented scorers to ever play the game. He can make stuff out of nothing.”

Just as Curry found another level shortly after Durant went down last February, missing 19 games, Durant is filling a void perhaps only he could fill. He already has entered Exhibits A-D, and he seems to be working his way through the alphabet.

“I pretty much figure I can do whatever I want on the basketball court if I put my mind to it,” Durant says. “So, whatever position I’m in, I’m ready to conquer it.”

There is a cruelty about what Durant does to defenders when he’s at his best, as he has been over the past four games, ever since Dec. 4, when a sprained ankle took Curry out of the lineup. Durant taunts them without meaning to (maybe). Too quick for 7-footers and too long for prototypical wings, he scores with an ease that leaves observers breathless, if not wordless.

“He doesn’t have many ceilings to his skill set,” says assistant coach Ron Adams, who coached Durant for two seasons (2008-10) in Oklahoma City and is enjoying the reunion.

“He may be the most efficient basketball player I’ve ever played with,” Klay Thompson says. “He makes it look easy out there.”

Thompson is basking in the shelter provided by Durant’s presence. Kerr is delighted to have Durant as, get this, a splendid alternative.

“It’s so amazing,” Kerr says, “to have a player like him, who is a superstar and who, without ever saying anything, without me saying anything to him, with Steph out he just takes over.”

The Warriors are 4-0 since Curry left the lineup. They are 3-0 in games for which fellow starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia joined Curry on the sideline. Durant has stepped in the fill a void perhaps only he can fill.

He’s playing at MVP level, averaging 33.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 3.0 blocks. Through 25 Warriors games this season, Durant had one 30-point game. He has had his three highest-scoring games in the last four.

They were listless in the first half Thursday night, committing ghastly turnovers and playing haphazard defense. They were behind, at home, to a Mavericks team hurtling toward 55 losses.

Except the Warriors had Durant. He was keeping them in the game. He scored 12 of their 24 first-quarter points. When the Mavs tried go up nine midway through the second quarter, he was there was block Harrison Barnes’ layup.

“Kevin is amazing,” says teammate Omri Casspi. “He’s always been great for our team. The past few games he’s just picking up in so many different levels. He’s having Defensive Player of the Year numbers defensively. He’s playing great. Really helping everybody. Blocking shots.”

Shortly after Dallas went up by five early in the third quarter, Durant was there, spoon-feeding Jordan Bell for a layup to cut it to three. A few seconds later, Durant was finding Casspi for a short jumper to bring the Warriors within one.

A Durant jumper pulled the Warriors into the last tie of the game, 61-61, with 7:20 left in the third, and 31 seconds later his 3-point bomb put them ahead for good. Durant followed that by accounting for four of the next six field goals, assisting on one of the other two. Game.

“Frankly, Durant just comes down and jumps over us a few times,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle says. “It’s very difficult to stop that if a guy is that good.”

Says Kerr: “There were times where it didn’t look like we had anything going and he just rose up and knocked down threes or put it on the floor and scored. He’s basically un-guardable . . . KD seems to have an answer for everything.”

With Curry and Green out, Durant is absorbing most of their scoring and playmaking and defense. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.

But that’s why he is here. So there is no panic when Curry goes down six weeks into season, even if it’s conceivable he could miss a month. Durant is on it, diving into the challenge in a way he plunged into the NBA Finals last June.

Remember what happened? The Warriors won in five games, Durant coming away with a Finals MVP trophy and his first championship ring.

He was in a zone then, and he’s in one now.

“When Steph and Draymond come back, I’m looking forward to them coming back,” Durant says. “I get back into what my role is.

“I’m ready to conquer anything I have in front of me and I know if I put my mind to it, I can do whatever I want.”

On the heels of arguably his best game as a Warrior, Casspi is fine, right on time

casspi-postgame.jpg
USATSI

On the heels of arguably his best game as a Warrior, Casspi is fine, right on time

OAKLAND -- Omri Casspi’s timing was impeccable, and not just for the Warriors.

While he played a strong game Thursday night, totaling 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 112-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks, this was one of those cases in which the “when” felt as wonderful as the “what.”

There was a particular significance for Casspi insofar as he had performed so well not only for Warriors fans at Oracle Arena but also for friends and family and brothers and sisters of his faith.

For it was the third night of Hanukkah and also Jewish Heritage Night at Oracle Arena, and Casspi is of the Jewish faith, born in 1988 in Holon, Israel. He is the only current NBA player born Jewish.

“It was fun,” Casspi said of the evening. “My family is in town, always for Hanukkah. So it’s always fun to have family around.”

Casspi signed with the Warriors in July in the wake of a forgettable season in which he fought injuries and was on the roster of three different teams: the Kings, the Pelicans and the Timberwolves. He was looking for a place to land.

It appears he has found one. The Warriors signed him because he is a low-maintenance reserve that fits their style and is capable of shooting 3-pointers.

Casspi was making his sixth start on Thursday, his second straight for the injured Draymond Green. He produced 11 points and nine rebounds in a win over Portland on Monday and took it up a notch Thursday.

“The minutes I’m playing now are not what it’s always going to be,” he said. “I want to stay sharp. I want to stay ready whenever I’m called upon and earn the trust of my teammates and my coaches.”

Casspi’s 17 points came on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including 1-of-2 from beyond the arc. He also added two assists and blocked two shots. To be sure, this was yet another exhibition of why he has earned the trust of his teammates.

He’s shooting 60.2 percent from the field and an even 60 percent (9-of-15) from deep.

“I didn’t know Omri was this good, to be honest,” Kevin Durant said.

“He could just play. He can make passes, he’s good off the ball, he’s got the funky push shot that’ll touch the ceiling, but it looks like it’s going in every time. He works on his game. He loves to play. He cares for his teammates. He definitely surprised me when he came aboard. I’m excited he’s on our team.”

Upon concluding his postgame interview session, Casspi walked into the embrace of family and friends. He went back out to the court to participate in the ceremony, lighting Hanukkah candles and singing.

The Warriors won. He played well. He felt the love of many. He was in his element.

'The Town' jersey reaches Warriors franchise record in sales

curry-the-town-arms-up.jpg
USATI

'The Town' jersey reaches Warriors franchise record in sales

Since the first line of 'The Town' merchandise went on sale in early November, the apparel has accounted for 34 percent of all sales at Warriors.com and 31 percent at team store locations around the Bay Area, the team announced on Thursday.

Golden State debuted the new jersey for their game against the Pelicans on Saturday, Nov. 25.

On that day (two days after Thanksgiving), 'The Town' gear represented 67 percent of all online sales.

[REWIND: Curry tops 'Cyber Monday' jersey sales across NBA]

The Warriors saw a 179 percent year-over-year increase in merchandise sales over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.

Back in September, the Warriors unveiled their new alternate uniform -- which honors the city of Oakland.

“There is something special about Oakland,” Warriors CMO Chip Bowers told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson. “The grit, I love it. I love the people. I love the pride that people have. I love the soul of Oakland...

"We felt like the fandom and what people wear on their chest is really important and represents who they are and what they believe in. And we want people in the East Bay and Oakland to feel proud, and Warriors fans in general, about our time and our heritage in Oakland.”

It appears the next time the Warriors will wear 'The Town' jersey is Saturday, Dec. 23 against the Nuggets.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller