LeBron-Durant rivalry gets heated during Game 4: 'It’s good for basketball'

LeBron-Durant rivalry gets heated during Game 4: 'It’s good for basketball'

CLEVELAND -- When the NBA Finals are at stake, along with an embarrassment factor, too, even a friendly rivalry can turn nasty.

That was the case, at least temporarily, with Kevin Durant and LeBron James as the Warriors fell to the Cavaliers 137-116 in Game 4 Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

With 7:26 left in the third quarter and the officiating crew preparing to review a foul committed by Cavs forward Kevin Love on Durant to determine if it was flagrant, Durant and James started trading verbal jabs, their faces few inches apart.

The jawing was animated enough that referee John Goble, working his first NBA Finals game, was moved to assess double technical fouls, one for each of the superstars.

Neither player appeared to carry any grudge, and minutes later they slapped palms while on the court.

“You can't take everything away from the game,” Durant said afterward. “You're taking the hard fouls out of the game, calling them ‘flagrants,’ taking a lot of stuff out of game. But you can’t take the emotion out of the game. We weren't coming to blows; we were just talking. That's a part of basketball.

“The game of basketball created that. The refs didn't. We didn't as players. It's like the aura of the game created trash talk and just communication out there. So I know you could take away the physical part of the game as far as controlling stuff, but emotionally that should be us. That should be what the players have as their own out there.”

Durant has mentioned several times previously that he feels officials are too quick to take action when players are talking trash. He is not alone.

“I think it’s good for basketball,” Draymond Green said. “I don’t really understand the double tech. What does that accomplish? If you’re going to separate them, separate them. Don’t just stand there and look at them talk and wait for them to talk and see how long they’re going to talk and them (assess) a double technical.”

With the Cavaliers down 3-0 entering Game 4, they played their most aggressive game from the outset. Durant doesn’t believe anything will change when the teams gather at Oracle Arena for Game 5 on Monday night.

“So I'm sure it's going to continue,” he said. “There's nothing malicious or we didn't say anything malicious, it was just a part of the game. Emotions are what keep this game alive, keeps it going. It's for the players.”

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

OAKLAND -- The words came dribbling out slowly, ruefully and with more than a trace of despair.

JaVale McGee, the 7-foot accidental villain, could barely speak about his role Friday night in the moment that left the Warriors pleading for mercy while their fans were screaming at the sky.

Stephen Curry, returning to the lineup after a six-game absence due to a right ankle sprain, lasted 25 minutes before sustaining another injury, this one a sprain to his left MCL. The two-time MVP will undergo an MRI test Saturday.

“I pray to God,” McGee said, “that nothing’s wrong with him.”

The injury occurred with 3:09 left in the third quarter. After biting on a pump fake by Atlanta forward Mike Muscala, McGee wound up tumbling backward, with his 270 pounds landing directly at the front Curry legs. Curry immediately started limping away, with the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena gasping in horror.

“I was trying to block a shot,” McGee said beneath a vacant stare, “and I ran into him.”

That’s the kind of month it has been for the Warriors. All four of their All-Stars have been knocked out of action by an array of injuries.

Curry went down March 8 after tweaking his surgically repaired right ankle. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were injured March 11 at Minnesota, Durant sustaining a rib cartilage injury after taking a elbow from 7-foot Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and Thompson spraining his right thumb after making contact with Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague.

Draymond Green began the next week as the team’s only healthy All-Star, a distinction that lasted eight days before he was struck down with a pelvic contusion Monday night in San Antonio.

“It’s like a juju or something on us,” McGee said. “I’ve never been part of a team where everybody just got injured, especially the starters. It’s kind of scary to tell the truth.”

Durant, Thompson and Green were unavailable Friday night, which is why Curry’s return was so encouraging. After a 2-point first quarter during which he went 1-of-6 from the floor, Curry found his stroke and over his next 16 minutes scored 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Then came the most frightening moment of the night, throwing a massive damper on a 106-94 victory.

“I assumed it was his ankle when he came out hobbling and I found it was his knee,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We will see what the MRI says tomorrow.

“There is not a whole lot we can do or predict. It’s kind of a strange, cruel twist of fate. He rehabs his ankle for the last couple of weeks and gets that strong and the knee goes. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed.”

The Warriors came out of the All-Star break fairly healthy and ready to make a run at the No. 1 overall seed. They’ve achieved it in each of the last three seasons, coming away with two championships.

Hopes of getting there this season have disappeared under a pile of injuries, all of them coming over the last 16 days. As of late Friday night, there was no knowing how serious Curry’s injury is, or how long he might be out.

What’s known is that it was another in a succession of frightful moments.

“It’s a little somber in there,” Kerr said of the locker room. “Everybody feels for Steph. But it’s more a case of just keep going and keep pushing forward. We’ll come into tomorrow, short practice and get ready for Utah.”

That’s at the request of the schedule. That’s a dose of NBA reality on a grim night.

McGee didn’t seem ready for that. He was feeling awful about the entire episode.

“I can’t describe it,” he said of the play that followed everyone into the night. “Everybody has a TV. I fell into him and . . . I know y’all (reporters) don’t think I’m standing here like, ‘Yes, I fell into him.’

“That’s a star player. Of course, we don’t want him to be injured, especially after he came back. So I feel very bad for the fact that I was a part of that.”

McGee said he hopes Curry is out no more than a couple games.

The Warriors would be ever so pleased if it’s a couple weeks. They want to be whole for the postseason,, the only season by which they will be measured and a season that, on this night, nobody was of a mood to visualize.

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry lasted 25 minutes Friday night before limping out of another game.

He was diagnosed with a sprained left MCL and did not return after sustaining the injury.

Curry came up limping after center JaVale McGee, leaping for a rebound, tumbled backward into his lower legs with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter of the Warriors-Hawks game at Oracle Arena.

Immediately, the sellout crowd let out a collective groan.

Curry, his face a mask of dejection, headed for the bench, where he was examined by Warriors physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane. The two then headed into the locker room.

Curry scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before leaving the game. This was his first appearance since March 8, when he tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle, causing him to miss six games.

Curry has missed 21 of the team’s 71 games. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and his status beyond that is yet to be determined. 

This story is being updated.