Draymond: Warriors want to beat Thunder 'really bad' for Durant

Draymond: Warriors want to beat Thunder 'really bad' for Durant

Not since the 2000s, when Kobe and Shaq were squabbling members of the Lakers, has a relationship between NBA teammates been analyzed and scrutinized as much Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.

The examination – and insinuation – continues even now, four months after Durant left the Thunder to join the Warriors.

The subject can at least begin to be put to rest Thursday night, when Durant and Westbrook meet on the court as OKC comes to Oakland to face the Warriors at Oracle Arena.

[RATTO: Maybe Westbrook vs Durant really about you rather than them]

Because of his eight seasons alongside Westbrook and also his nine years with the organization, Durant acknowledges his emotions will run high.

“It’s just the way it is,” he said last Tuesday night, after a 127-104 victory over the Trail Blazers. “I’ve got a job to do. At the end of the day, I’m going to go out there and do it.

“But it’ll be good to see some people I haven’t seen in a while.”

Durant’s July 4 decision as a free agent to leave OKC and join the Warriors broke hearts and some of the spirit in the heartland. Once a beloved icon of the Sooner State, Durant in the eyes of many became a traitor. Fans of the Thunder were, and still are, angry that Durant made a choice that not only weakened their team but also left them feeling abandoned.

Westbrook has said and done precious little to distance himself from those who remain bitter over Durant’s departure.

That Durant has continued to speak highly of Westbrook and also expressed a modicum of regret over not personally speaking to his ex-teammate about his decision speaks to the personality differences between the two men.

[RELATED: Durant, Westbrook 'going through a tough time right now']

Whereas Westbrook is a hard-charging competitor who approaches every game, every season, with an us-or-them mentality, Durant takes a broader view. Suns coach Earl Watson, a friend to both, recently explained that an in-season meeting with Durant would result in an embrace but such niceties with Westbrook would more likely be put on hold until the offseason.

That hardly means Westbrook hates Durant, and it surely does not imply Durant detests Westbrook.

“We’re boys,” Durant told Bay Area News Group this week. “My interest went this way, his went that way. He got married, I didn’t. He hung with his wife. What you want me to do? I love Russ. I don’t care what nobody say. I don’t care what he say or what the fans say. Like, this is a tough time right now in our relationship. But I love Russ. I love his family.”

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, the rage continues. Some fans burned Durant jerseys, while others vented on talk radio. Durant’s popular restaurant, KD’s, was forced to undergo a change in management and, moreover, get renamed.

That Westbrook, now the clear franchise player, has started in such spectacular fashion – he leads the league in scoring and through three games is averaging a triple-double – the fans may be on the verge of getting over Durant.


But Durant, while conceding OKC fans have a right to feel as they do, is quick to say the memories and friendships made with his former employer will stay with him forever.

Warriors forward Draymond Green, who was a leading figure in the recruitment of Durant, has become one of Durant’s good friends. He understands what his new teammate is coping with and knows it can’t be easy for Durant to clash with his former teammates.

“I think it’ll be a lot of emotions,” Green said. “They’re going to want to beat him really bad. He’s going to want to beat them really bad. In turn, we’re going to want to beat them really bad because we want him to beat them really bad.

“It’ll be a lot of emotions, but it’ll be a fun game to play in. It’s always a high-intensity game against them and I expect nothing less.”

Durant says he’ll get away from basketball on Wednesday, take some time for himself and recharge. The game will be there on Thursday. Maybe he needs a few hours to absorb what’s ahead.

It’s going to be a strange feeling for Durant to take the court and face those wearing the only NBA jersey he had known previous to joining the Warriors.

“I wouldn’t say weird,” Durant said. “I’ll be just locked in, I guess, to following the game plan and just playing.

“Once you step on the court and you see the different jersey, I’m sure it will hit me. But for the most part, once we’re going over game-plan stuff I’ll just try my best to lock in and get ready.”

There is no doubt, though Durant would like to get past the ongoing drama, much of which has been the result of fabrication and hypothesis. Practically anything Durant has said in praise of Warriors has been inferred as condemnation of the Thunder.

Practically anything he says that sheds positive light on a Warriors teammate is studied for the chance it may be a veiled complaint or cryptic critique of his former teammates, Westbrook in particular.

This is not Kobe-Shaq, the cornerstones of Lakers teams that won three championships before they grew tired of sharing the same space. This is Durant-Westbrook, teammates that went quite far but never all the way to the top.

Durant’s move did not dismantle a team laying waste to the NBA. It merely sent him to the place of his choice, to join teammates with which he had grown comfortable.

He has moved on. He’s ready for the rest of the world to move on. Maybe on Thursday the issue will take a long stride toward the dusty pages of history.

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.

Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings


Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings

OAKLAND -- Omri Casspi sustained a sprained right ankle with 9:00 left in the second quarter of the Warriors-Kings game Friday night and did not return.

After dropping in a short hook shot with 9:04 left in the quarter, Casspi landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle and dropping to the floor clutching his lower leg. Down for a couple minutes, he eventually got up and limped into the locker room, accompanied by physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane.

Casspi played six minutes off the bench, producing 6 points, one assist and one rebound against his former team.

He joins Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Pat McCaw and Klay Thompson on the sideline.