Warriors

38-point barrage in Game 3 vs Jazz exactly why Warriors added Durant

38-point barrage in Game 3 vs Jazz exactly why Warriors added Durant

SALT LAKE CITY -- This is why the Warriors moved heaven and earth and most of its seas to add Kevin Durant to their roster.

Not the regular season, though it’s important, but the postseason.

And not just any postseason game or series, but those moments when Stephen Curry isn’t magical and Klay Thompson isn’t on one of his absurd scoring sprees.

It’s those times when the stakes are high and Warriors need someone else’s back to board.

That was Durant on Saturday night in Salt Lake City, bringing high emotion and stellar production in leading the Warriors to a 102-91 victory that has them one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the third consecutive season.

“Myself, the other 19,000 people in the arena and everyone else watching on TV saw the same thing I saw,” Curry said.

“When he started getting going early, I just felt like it could be a big night for him,” acting head coach Mike Brown said. “And it was.”

Scoring a game-high 38 points -- 13 in the opening quarter -- grabbing a team-high 13 rebounds and engaging Jazz center Rudy Gobert in the briefest of shoving matches in the final minutes of the game, Durant delivered on the vision shared by coach Steve Kerr, general manager Bob Myers and CEO Joe Lacob.

Durant found points when nobody else could, gifting the Warriors with a victory they otherwise would not have earned. He shot 15-of-26 (57.7 percent), while his teammates combined for 22-of-58 (37.9 percent).

Durant made threes, four of them. He got in a couple dunks. He thrived in isolation, at one point torching Jazz forward Gordon Hayward on three consecutive possessions.

“I’m going try to say this is humbly as I can,” Durant said. “But I’ve been doing this for so long and every time I roll out of the bed and we have a game that day, I feel like I can go out there and score.

“It’s the other things I try to do. Defensively helping my teammates, get them open shots, moving and setting screens. Scoring . . . it’s not easy, but it’s what I do the best. I try to do the other things . . . and once I do that, I feel like it opens up my scoring a little bit more.”

Curry, who was 4-of-18 through three quarters before draining both his shots in the fourth, took note of Durant’s rhythm.

“It’s an easy decision at that moment, try to set a screen for him, get him in the right spot and he does the rest,” he said. “We’re smart enough basketball players and know what’s going on at that moment, and just try to make the right decision, and let a talented scorer like he is, like he said the way he approaches the game, let (him) do what he does.”

Given the circumstances and the opponent, the Durant explosion was bound to happen. In a league where only a handful of players can hope to contain Durant, no one on the Utah team has a whispered rumor of a chance to slow him.

In the wake of Game 2, when Durant scored a team-high 25 points on 6-of-13 shooting, he pointed out that he was just starting to get his legs back. He missed nearly six weeks in March and early April with a knee sprain and bone bruise, and then sustained a calf strain in Game 1 of the first-round series against Portland.

Durant had not played four full games in a row since February.

Having played in Game 4 as the Warriors ousted the Trail Blazers, Game 3 of the series against Utah was his fourth consecutive game. Durant was comfortable, inviting contact and destroying anything that got in his way.

When Gobert shoved him an elbow in the fourth quarter, Durant shoved back -- and paid for it. He was whistled for a flagrant-1 and a technical foul.

“He rose up and was playing like who he is,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder, unable to conceal his exasperation.

The Warriors knew when they sent a recruiting team to the Hamptons to persuade him to join them that Durant is a game-changer. And there it was, on full display, when the Warriors absolutely needed it.

 

Warriors vs. Clippers Game 4 Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

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Warriors vs. Clippers Game 4 Watch Guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

LOS ANGELES – With a 2-1 series lead, the Warriors take the court Sunday afternoon for Game 4 against the Clippers in which one matchup likely will dictate the direction of the game and the series.

It’s not necessarily Kevin Durant vs. Patrick Beverley. Durant hit the jets on Beverley in Game 3, putting an end to the myth they were waging a battle.

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors vs. Clippers Game 4 live online]

The more impactful matchup is that between Andre Iguodala and Los Angeles scoring whiz Lou Williams – and it surely will be a topic during pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area beginning with Warriors Outsiders at 11 a.m., followed by SNC Playoff Central. Tipoff of the ABC telecast begins at 12:30 p.m.

For the Clippers to have a reasonable chance to win, Williams must produce. When he scored in 36 points on 59-percent shooting in Game 2, LA won by four. When he scored 16 on 36-percent shooting in Game 3, the Warriors won by 27.

For roughly 80 percent of Williams’ playing time in Game 3, he was shadowed by Iguodala – the two were teammates for seven seasons in Philadelphia – who occasionally got help. With Iguodala containing Williams and Draymond Green’s stifling No. 2 scorer Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers were limited on offense.

A repeat of that practically ensures a Warriors victory, giving them a 3-1 series lead going into Game 4 Wednesday in Oakland.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors
F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C Andrew Bogut
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry

Clippers
F Patrick Beverley
F Danilo Gallinari
C Ivaca Zubac
G Landry Shamet
G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C DeMarcus Cousins (L quadriceps tear) and C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) are listed as out.

Clippers: No injuries listed.

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: Durant’s massive Game 3 performance raised the ceiling of the Warriors and could pay dividends for teammates Curry and Thompson in Game 4. More attention on Durant could mean space for the guards.

Kevon Looney and Iguodala have been very good off the bench, with Looney’s playing at high efficiency and Iguodala delivering at both ends. Looney’s success is a bit surprising in that he can’t match the athleticism of LA reserve big man Montrezl Harrell but still has become a problem for the Clippers.

The initial insertion of Bogut at starting center was something of an experiment, with the belief he could match up with Zubac and the hope he could counteract Harrell’s energy. It’s working, for the most part and is not likely to change.

Clippers: Harrell has been their most consistently effective player. He’s averaging 22 ppg (76.5 percent FG) and 6.3 rpg. The Williams-Harrell pick-and-roll had been an issue but was less effective in Game 3.

The Clippers have KD problem and there’s no easy answer for Clippers coach Doc Rivers. The strategy of using Beverley, who gives up at least eight inches in height, is designed to make Durant uncomfortable and limit his off-the-dribble action. Screens consistently freed Durant in Game 3, so it will be interesting to see what, if any, adjustment is made.

[RELATED: Kerr believes Iguodala can play as long as he wants, but will he?]

Gallinari’s 2-of-13 shooting in Game 3 puts him at 14-of-44 (31.8 percent). As the best scorer in LA’s starting lineup, it’s imperative he generate some offense. They’ll look to get more out of Shamet, their designated shooter. With Thompson and Curry doing most of the defensive work, Shamet is averaging 7.0 points (30 percent FG).

Officials: Tony Brothers (crew chief), Sean Wright, Brent Barnaky. Alternate: Tre Maddox.

Warriors vs. Clippers live stream: Watch NBA playoffs Game 4 live online

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USATSI

Warriors vs. Clippers live stream: Watch NBA playoffs Game 4 live online

The Warriors were back to their dominant selves in Game 3 of the NBA playoffs, and on this Easter Sunday, they look to take a resounding 3-1 first-round series lead. 

After taking a 31-point lead in Game 2, the Warriors fell asleep before responding in Game 3. But for Game 4, the Dubs aren't worried about taking a step back.

Sunday will be an early start, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT. The Warriors are down two centers, with DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones ruled out.

Here's how you can watch Warriors-Clippers Game 4 on ABC, as well as NBC Sports Bay Area's "SNC: Warriors Playoff Central" pregame and postgame coverage live on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

When: 12:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, April 21, on ABC (pregame show starts on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus at 11:30 a.m.)
Pregame/postgame show live stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app
Game live stream: WatchESPN