Durant thrives in unfamiliar role against Clippers with Draymond out

Durant thrives in unfamiliar role against Clippers with Draymond out

LOS ANGELES -- This was all new for Kevin Durant.

Not the team. He has been wearing a Warriors jersey for four months.

Not the opponent, the Clippers, or the locale, Staples Center.

No, what was new and unfamiliar for Durant on Thursday night was his position. With Draymond Green sitting out with an injury and the Clippers starting a small lineup, Warriors coach Steve Kerr installed Durant at power forward.

Over nine-plus NBA seasons and 781 games, including the postseason, he had never started a game at power forward.

“I have never started at the 4 since college,” Durant said, recalling his one season at the University of Texas.

The 6-foot-9, 240-pound “small” forward survived, actually thrived, in a 133-120 Warriors victory.

Combining his typical duties with those normally filled by Green, Durant scored 26 points, dished for a season-high-tying 10 assists, grabbed eight rebounds and did not commit a turnover.

“It was cool tonight,” he said. “I felt like I could sit back there and survey the offense from the top of the key, make direct passes. I felt good about not having a turnover tonight after seven a couple games ago (Sunday night in Portland).”

Though Clippers star Blake Griffin scored a game-high 31 points, he didn’t hurt the Warriors. Griffin was minus-11 over his 30 minutes.

Kerr was pleased with the results. The Warriors outrebounded the Clippers 46-37 and committed 12 turnovers -- only seven through the first three quarters.

“He’s capable of playing 4,” Kerr said. “He’s guarded Blake before. It’s a lot of work. He’s a hell of a player and he’s strong, but I though KD was very good defensively.”

Is this something Durant wants to get used to? Not necessarily.

“For the most part, playing the 4 was fun,” he said. “Battling Blake was fun. Battling with DJ (DeAndre Jordan) down there was fun.

“But I can’t wait to get Draymond back.”

Durant won’t have to wait long. Green likely will be back Saturday, when the Warriors face the Kings in Sacramento.

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.