Warriors

Attack-mode Curry makes statement vs Blazers: 'Should've had 45 or 50'

Attack-mode Curry makes statement vs Blazers: 'Should've had 45 or 50'

OAKLAND -- The sequence of the night, without question, belonged to Kevin Durant, who in eight exquisite seconds managed to showcase his two-way impact.

The loudest statement made by the Warriors in a 125-117 win over Portland, however, was that conveyed by Stephen Curry, who for most of his 36 minutes on the floor looked like the guy with which the NBA has become familiar.

The guy who won back-to-back MVP awards.

Curry attacked early, with a comprehensively strong first quarter (9 points, four rebounds, four assists), and then came back in the second half to do most of the offensive heavy lifting that kept the plucky Trail Blazers at bay.

He totaled 35 points on 12-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-13 beyond the arc, but also added seven rebounds and five assists. Curry was not perfect (five turnovers, utterly shocking back-to-back misses at the free throw line), but he was forceful and productive.

When Curry brings that combination -- along with the bounty delivered by Durant -- the Warriors are nearly impossible to beat.

“Tonight, he was amazing,” Durant said. “He should’ve had 45 or 50; he missed some easy ones. But for the most part, 25 looks, I’m living with it. Five turnovers? That shows that he’s being aggressive. In order for us to get where we need to go, we need him to do that. And everybody is going to follow suit. He’s going to open it up for everybody.”

The 25 shots are the second most this season for Curry. Such assertiveness is something his teammates seem to have been urging of him.

“At some points in the game,” Draymond Green said, “I was like, ‘Yo, shoot that.’ There’s not like texts or side conversations where it’s like, ‘Shoot the ball.’ He knows to shoot. Everybody makes a big deal of him not taking a lot of shots in certain games or here and there. He’s a smart player. He plays within the flow of the game. Tonight he took 25 shots. I don’t think it was because someone went up to him and said, ‘Hey Steph, shoot the ball tonight.’ “

The Warriors didn’t create much separation until the third quarter, when an 11-0 run turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead at 81-74 on a dazzling reverse layup by Curry with 8:18 left in the quarter. He scored 12 points in the quarter.

For perspective, Portland’s starting lineup scored 11 points in the quarter. So, yes, Curry was looking for his shot while also being mindful of his teammates.

“I’m not going to fall into temptation of abandoning what makes us successful just to say I shot more,” Curry said. “I have to be aggressive and not turn down shots that I usually take and make. The way we’ve been flowing and especially down the stretch, you have to be able to rise up for those kinds of moments. So it’s a little bit of both.”

Seeing Curry in attack mode is, to be sure, a welcome sight for the Warriors and their fans, some of which are still trying to shake Curry’s languid performance in the marquee game at Cleveland on Christmas Day.

“I’m not going to overreact because he’s not getting 40 every night,” said Durant, who scored 30 points. “I just told him to be aggressive. Don’t even worry about anything else. If you’ve got a big guy on you, go to work. That’s what we want you to do, especially me. It’s fun when he gets everybody else going, when he’s aggressive.”

Which brings us to Durant and his sequence, in which his own aggression provided more fun for the sellout crowd than anything Curry or anyone else did.

The Blazers were seeking the go-ahead basket late in the first quarter, and CJ McCollum went up for a layup. Durant blocked it. The rebound went to power forward Noah Vonleh, who took it right back up, only to be rejected by Durant.

Two blocks in three seconds, with the ball going to Andre Iguodala and Durant sprinting ahead on the right wing. Iguodala took four dribbles and zipped a pass to Durant just beyond the 3-point stripe. Bucket.

“It just ignites the crowd and ignites our offense and sends a message to the other team,” Curry said of Durant. “It just brings another level of energy.”

There was no shortage of energy. Not from Durant and certainly not from Curry. It was, in the end, too much for the Blazers.

Kevin Durant frustrated by distractions he didn't create as Warriors stall

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USATI

Kevin Durant frustrated by distractions he didn't create as Warriors stall

Sound and fury has enveloped Kevin Durant for over a week, after a confrontation with Warriors teammate Draymond Green raised eyebrows, questions and ire.

Most frustrating to Durant is this drama was created by something didn’t do. Green reportedly delivered the hurtful line -- “We don’t need you. We won without you. Leave.” -- last Monday, and Durant merely received it, along with a ton of flak.

“My whole thing is I didn’t create any of this,” Durant told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes in a 1-on-1 interview Tuesday. “That’s just my whole thing. I was just playing basketball. Now, I got to answer questions, now I got to talk about this, now I got to feel a way when I was in a great zone playing basketball. …

[RELATED: Stephen A. Smith doesn't see Warriors as KD's top landing spot]

“Now, it’s always going to come back. Like, ‘Are they all right? Man, he didn’t play well. Is he going to leave?’ Why do I even have to think about that at this point? … Then it turned into, ‘K.D.’s going to this place, he doesn’t like the Warriors no more. He should go here, he should go there.’ More distractions.”

Of course, Durant could stop those distractions by telling everyone he’s staying with the Warriors past this season. That won’t happen, though, with so much money and prestige at stake.

So, KD will be left to answer the media’s questions about the future and his perceived fit, particularly with the Warriors slumping by their lofty championship standards.

That became evident the day after the incident, with the Atlanta Hawks visiting Oracle Arena. As the game played out, all the talk centered on how Durant would look on the floor with teammates who might have been irritated by the whole ordeal.

[RELATED: KD says tiff with Green won't affect free agency decision]

Turns out he was thinking about things, too.

“During the game, I’m like, ‘Ah, [expletive], I’m probably going to have to say something about this,’ “ Durant told Haynes. “Why do I have to think about that during the basketball game? And that’s a fight I had to have, focusing on just playing. …

“And that’s what I tend to focus on, but you’ve got so much B.S. that’s being thrown your way that I didn’t create. If I created all of this stuff, then I couldn’t be out here talking like this, but I didn’t create any of this. I’m just out here playing.”

He’s out there playing, but it’s not at his best level. He shot 24 of 64 from the field and just 1 of 13 on 3-pointers during the Warriors’ winless Texas road trip that started with him shutting down a reporter who asked about his relationship with Green. Durant returned home to work with Hall of Famer Steve Nash on his wayward shot, then discovered he’d been fined $25,000 by the NBA for his outburst toward a heckler in Dallas.

KD and Co. are in one of the roughest of patches. The only way out is to win.

Warriors' Kevin Durant says Draymond Green tiff won't affect his free agency

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USATSI

Warriors' Kevin Durant says Draymond Green tiff won't affect his free agency

Kevin Durant's tiff with Draymond Green sent speculation surrounding his free agency into a frenzy. Would the beef heard 'round the world mean The End Of The Warriors As We Know It?

Well, you might want to put any plans to order a "DURANT NO. 35" New York Knicks jersey on hold until July.

Durant told Yahoo's Chris Haynes on Tuesday that his confrontation with Green won't affect his decision in free agency this summer. 

“Nah, [it won’t factor],” Durant said. “Because at the end of the day, I’m just a ballplayer that’s just trying to be in a great environment to play basketball and groom my skills every day. And I want to compete on a level that once the game starts, I’m just totally comfortable with my surroundings, with just going out there and being me.” 

[RELATED: KD enters the 'lab' with Steve Nash to fix wayward jump shot]

Sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole that Green crossed a line by bringing up Durant's free agency when the two argued during a Nov. 12 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant was upset that Green didn't pass him the ball on the final possession in regulation of a game the Warriors ultimately lost in overtime, and the two got into it on the sideline.

Green ultimately was suspended one game for "conduct detrimental to the team," as the Warriors experienced what coach Steve Kerr called "the real NBA." Maybe that's why Durant said he was able to quickly move past the exchange with Green.

“I never really felt like it was a problem, because I know Dray and he says some crazy [expletive] out his mouth all the time,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “But on top of that, it was just that there was so much coming with it from the outside, and so much stuff that we have to answer now.”

In July, Durant can opt out of a two-year, $61.5 million contract he signed last summer. Until Durant puts pen to paper, questions surrounding his Warriors future surely will follow. 

Going on the record to say the last week won't affect his decision might not truly reassure the Warriors, but it beats the alternative. 

Programming note: Watch Wednesday night's Warriors-Thunder game streaming live at 7:30 p.m. PT on the MyTeams app.