Durant powers Team USA past Serbia, to third straight gold medal


Durant powers Team USA past Serbia, to third straight gold medal


The deep reservoir of talent, the extended periods of teamwork and the brilliance of Warriors forward Kevin Durant were more than enough for the U.S. men’s national team to run away with the gold.

After a modest start Sunday, Team USA pulled itself together behind Durant and flashed the anticipated dominance, rolling to a 96-66 victory over Serbia to take the gold medal in the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Americans went on a 31-8 run spanning the first and second quarters, overcoming a 14-12 deficit late in the first quarter to take a 43-22 lead with 4:20 left in the half. Durant scored 14 of his game-high 30 points during that stretch.

While Warriors guard Klay Thompson tossed in 12 points, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins played his best game of the tournament, coming off the bench to deliver 13 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and two steals in only 17 minutes.

Nine days after allowing Serbia to shoot 51.7 percent from the floor while squeaking out a 94-91 victory, Team USA cranked up the intensity over the final three quarters and limited the Serbs to 38.2 percent.

After managing only three assists in a lethargic opening quarter, Team USA posted 21 over the final three quarters and left the Serbs gasping. The Americans also owned the glass, with a 54-33 rebounding advantage.

Team USA, which played below potential for most of the preliminary round, saved its best for last, completing the Rio Games with an 8-0 record to win Olympic gold for the third consecutive time.

How the Warriors fared:

Durant: 30 points (10-of-19 shooting from the field, 5-of-11 from beyond the arc), four assists, three rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. He started at forward and played 30 minutes.

Draymond Green: 2 points (1-of-3) and one rebound. The forward played eight minutes off the bench.

Thompson: 12 points (5-of-11, 2-of-6), three rebounds, one assist and one steal. He started at guard and played 22 minutes.

Report: Rockets among teams interested in Jimmy Butler

Report: Rockets among teams interested in Jimmy Butler

Could Jimmy Butler go home to Houston?

Apparently, the Rockets are interested in trying to make it happen, though we're not sure how the numbers would work out.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets, Nets, Pistons, Clippers, Heat, 76ers and Blazers are "interested in talking further with Minnesota" about trying to acquire the four-time All-Star. The Cavs are also interested acquiring Butler, according to Woj.

Houston has a problem, though. They are already $11.444 million over the luxury cap threshold. Butler is set to make $20.445 million in 2018-19 and $19.841 million in 2019-20, so the Rockets would have to do salary cap gymnastics to make a deal work.

On Friday, GM Daryl Morey told The Houston Chronicle that the Rockets are "doing what we can to prepare for" the Warriors.

Acquiring Butler would certainly fit that messaging.

Daryl Morey admits Rockets make most decisions with Warriors in mind


Daryl Morey admits Rockets make most decisions with Warriors in mind

Grass is green, the sky is blue, and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is still obsessed with knocking off the Warriors.

Morey admitted as much in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, telling the paper that "a very high percentage" of the Rockets' decisions this offseason are made with one thing on their mind:

Same as last year, it's very likely to win the title we're going to have to beat the Warriors at some point. We're doing what we can to prepare for them. To me, that's what any rational person would do. I'm intrigued by some thinking it's odd that we say that. Maybe because it's not a norm. Ask any fan, 'Who do you have to beat to win the title?' They're going to say 'the Warriors.' It seems like [general manager] speak or coachspeak to not say that.

Morey told anybody who would ask last season that the Rockets were single-mindedly obsessed with beating the Warriors in the playoffs. Houston came close last season, jumping out to a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals, before Golden State stormed back to win the final two games in Rockets star Chris Paul's injury absence.

Morey responded with a substantial makeover of his roster. Defensive stoppers Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza are gone, while Carmelo Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, Marquese Chriss, James Ennis and Brandon Knight are in. The Rockets were one of the West's best defensive teams last season, and Morey expects the team to withstand the loss of Ariza and Mbah a Moute.

"We can be [as strong defensively]," Morey told the Chronicle. "They were both extremely good defenders. So it will be a challenge. That was a big part of our meeting. [Assistant coach Roy Rogers] was walking through what changes and how excited he was with what he was planning to do and the personnel we have to be better than last year."

Morey -- as well as the Warriors -- will get a first look at whether or not Houston's offseason was successful on Nov. 17, when the Rockets host the defending NBA champions.