Warriors

Durant at same level or above LeBron's, and this isn't new

Durant at same level or above LeBron's, and this isn't new

OAKLAND -- Two games into the NBA Finals, the biggest names on the marquee are living up to the billing, though Warriors superstar Kevin Durant is making an impressive case for being equal to, and maybe above, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.

And it’s not exactly new, either.

Durant’s latest performance in a 132-113 victory in Game 2 on Sunday was even more fantastic than his work in Game 1, which was nothing less than tremendous.

“He’s a reason why we’re able to be who we are,” Warriors teammate Shaun Livingston said.

Durant’s Game 2 statistics: a game-high 33 points (13-of-22 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from deep, 3-of-3 from the line), a game-high 13 rebounds, a game-high five blocks and a game-high-tying three steals.

No player in league history has posted across-the-board numbers that were equal to, much less better than, those in a Finals game.

It was James who matched Durant’s steals total but even in posting a triple-double (29 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds) in Game 2 was, on the whole, a level below.

Once again.

And Durant was coming off a Game 1 in which he totaled 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 113-91 Warriors victory.

It’s enough to take Draymond Green back to the game on Jan. 17, 2014, when Durant, then a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, torched the Warriors for 54 points. He seemed unstoppable that night, and he’s on a similar plane now.

“When you’ve got somebody doing you like that, it's just like a burning fire in their eye and you know you don't stand a chance,” Green said. “But that's like the look that I see in him throughout these Finals.”

If Durant is on a quest, well, it should be understood. James is someone, perhaps the only someone, against whom he measures himself. His personal record against James before becoming a Warrior was 4-17, including the 2012 Finals, in which James and the Miami Heat defeated the Thunder in five games -- despite Durant posting individual numbers generally superior to those of James.

Since joining the Warriors last summer, though, it’s 3-1, the teams splitting two games in the regular season and the Warriors winning Games 1 and 2 of The Finals.

Durant’s averages over the last four duels: 32.0 points (54.0 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from deep), 10.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.3 blocks.

James’ averages: 27.0 points (50.0 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from deep), 11.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.0 block.

If Durant offsets James in these Finals, the Warriors win a championship.

If Durant outperforms James, the Warriors cruise to the top.

“He’s championship basketball,” Livingston said of Durant. “That’s what he’s been playing. You can tell he’s a man on a mission.

“Offensively, that’s what the world sees but what I see is defensively, he’s changing the game. Five blocks tonight and even more shots at the rim that he caused them to miss or alter.”

Andrew Bogut's agent had no idea center was talking to Warriors about return

Andrew Bogut's agent had no idea center was talking to Warriors about return

When rumors around Andrew Bogut's potential return to the Warriors began to circulate, many people were caught entirely off guard.

But it wasn't just fans and analysts who were surprised the 2005 No. 1 overall pick would be returning to help his former team capture another title. 

Bogut's agent apparently had no idea the veteran center and the Warriors had been discussing a return to the Bay Area.

“Funny enough, my agent didn’t even know,” Bogut told The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. “I told my agent, ‘Hey I’m talking to the Warriors,’ and he was like, ‘What the f***? Do they know I’m your agent? Why don’t they call me?’”

The 34-year-old last played for the Warriors during the 2015-16 season and has been out of the NBA since January of 2018.

[RELATED: Steph explains why final regular season games are very important to Warriors]

In the four games since his return to the two-time defending champions, Bogut is averaging 5.3 points and 6.2 rebounds while looking slimmer and more athletic, something he attributes to drinking more beer and having a less rigorous schedule while being back home in Australia. 

The unexpected reunion has been a success so far. Perhaps when Bogut officially hangs up his sneakers he can start a second career as an agent.

It's worked out so far.

Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic suffers gruesome leg injury vs. Nets

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USATSI

Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic suffers gruesome leg injury vs. Nets

Blazers starting center Jusuf Nurkic suffered a horrible, horrible injury during Monday night's game against the Nets.

If you watched it live or have watched a replay, you know how brutal it was. If you haven't watched the video, DON'T.

Just think Gordon Hayward, Kevin Ware, Paul George and Shaun Livingston.

It was that bad.

Shortly after midnight, the Blazers announced that Nurkic suffered a compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula, and that there is no timetable for his return.

Nurkic was having a monster game at the time of the injury, dropping in 32 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, and the Blazers beat the Nets in double overtime, but neither matters at this point.

Losing Nurkic is another huge blow for the Blazers, who currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. They are already playing without shooting guard CJ McCollum, who strained his popliteus muscle in his left knee.

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins was among the current and former players to send their thoughts and prayers to Nurkic.