KD grounds Rockets in Game 1: 'Kevin is the ultimate luxury'

KD grounds Rockets in Game 1: 'Kevin is the ultimate luxury'

HOUSTON -- Even with Stephen Curry still seeking rhythm and Klay Thompson unhappy with his 3-point shooting and Draymond Green missing four of his five shots, the Warriors proved plenty capable of piercing the improved Rockets defense.

That, after all, is why Kevin Durant is on the team.

If nothing else working beautifully, there is Durant to touch up opponents, as he did Monday night in lifting the Warriors to a 119-106 victory over Houston in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

“We want to keep the ball moving,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But, obviously, Kevin is the ultimate luxury because a play can break down and you just throw him the ball. He can get you a bucket as well as anybody on earth.”

Durant poured in 37 points, shooting 14-of-27 from the field, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the line. He didn’t do a whole lot more -- three rebounds, one block, one assist -- but he didn’t need to. Crushing the Rockets on the scoreboard was enough.

When the Warriors fell behind early, 12-4 and then 21-12, Durant was there to take corrective action, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. That was enough bring the Warriors within one, 30-29, before the quarter ended.

When the Rockets stayed with the Warriors in the third quarter, there was Durant, unloading 13 more on them.

The Warriors never trailed in the second half, because Durant wouldn’t allow it.

“He was ready for tonight,” Curry said. “Just us building up momentum throughout the regular season, the playoff and getting to this point, he was appreciative of the moment.”

So tuned in was Durant that when Kerr subbed him out with 2:14 left in the third, Durant was, well, displeased. He was rolling and wanted to stay in. Kerr wanted to rest him and bring him back in the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, he wasn’t really thrilled,” Kerr said. “And I probably should have left him in.”

The Warriors were up 85-72 when Durant went to the bench. Houston immediately reeled off five points in 24 seconds, turning it into an 8-0 run that brought them within five (85-80) before Durant returned drain two free throws in the final seconds of the quarter.

“I wanted to stay in the game at that point,” Durant said. “But that’s the best part about it. I trust Coach and we can move past these conversations pretty quickly.”

The Rockets wouldn’t mind seeing a little less of Durant. Like pretty much every team in the league, they have no answer to the problems he can cause.

“He’s been doing it for so long, man,” said James Harden, a former teammate of Durant in Oklahoma City. “He’s what, 6-11? He can shoot over anybody.

“We’ve got to do a better job of being more physical, getting him off his spots. But he’s going to take tough shots. We’ve got to do a better job of contesting and make it even harder for him.”

The metrics show Houston’s defense is improved over last season. The eye test shows the same thing. But when Durant is as assertive as he has been over the last three games -- averaging 33.0 points, on 54.2-percent shooting -- there isn’t a lot a team can do.

“We always need him to stay aggressive like that,” Green said. “Sometimes, when you play on such a great team, with other great scorers in Klay and Steph, you tend to sometimes think, ‘Oh, man, I need to get him a shot.’ The way our offense is set up, the ball is going to find those three guys and they’re going to get their shots.

"So when he’s playing aggressive like that, we’re really tough to beat.”

San Francisco brewing company releases 'LeBron Tears' IPA

San Francisco brewing company releases 'LeBron Tears' IPA

San Francisco's Barebottle Brewing Company is adding insult to injury after the Warriors swept the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Finals. 

Warriors fans can now drink the sadness of LeBron James and the Cavs. Kind of. 

On Saturday, Barebottle announced they have released a new IPA named "LeBron Tears." Here's how they describe the hazy IPA:

Little known fact: KD, Steph, and Klay take opposing teams' hopes and dreams, and turn them into soul crushing 3-pointers. We took the tears from Sir James' Game 1 loss and distilled them into a hazy IPA, just for you. We also decided that Tears pair well with Mosaic hops. Sad!

The Warriors won Game 1 in overtime, 124-114. The game was tied after regulation with J.R. Smith grabbing a missed free throw with 4.7 seconds and ran out the clock by dribbling away from the hoop. 

James scored 51 points with eight assists and eight rebounds in the loss. The Warriors have now beat James and the Cavs three out of the last four years in the Finals. 

LiAngelo Ball works out with Warriors: 'I feel like I'm ready'

LiAngelo Ball works out with Warriors: 'I feel like I'm ready'

OAKLAND -- The second of the three breathlessly publicized Ball brothers worked out for the Warriors on Friday and did so in shoes unaffiliated with the family brand.

LiAngelo Ball wore Nikes.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward nonetheless made it through nearly two hours of drills, joining five other draft hopefuls under the supervision of Warriors officials at the team’s Oakland facility.

The Warriors have one pick in next Thursday’s draft, 28th overall. Ball, 19, is considered a second-round pick, at best.

“I feel pretty good going into the draft,” Ball said. “I feel like I’m going to get drafted. I feel I could produce for a team.

“But if I don’t, then it’s going to be the G-League or just go as a free agent and join a Summer League team or something like that.”

Scouts consider Ball a better shooter than his older brother, Lonzo, who was drafted second overall by the Lakers last June. The third Ball brother, LaMelo, 16, is playing in the Junior Basketball Association, a creation of LaVar Ball, the bombastic family patriarch and proprietor of Big Baller Brand apparel.

LiAngelo Ball lasted one game at UCLA last year. He was suspended after a shoplifting arrest in China in November and withdrew from UCLA a month later.

He wound up, at the request of his father, playing professionally for Vytautas Prienu in Lithuania, where he averaged 12.6 points, with 41.5 percent shooting, in 14 games. The time in Europe, Ball says, served to enhance his overall game.

“It wouldn’t have been where I’m at right now, because going overseas helped more, in my opinion,” he said. “In college, I didn’t get the kind of playing time that I thought I’d get. When I went overseas, I was able to develop better.”

Ball concedes his ball-handling needs work. Scout like his shooting and athleticism but have found him indifferent about passing and defending. He has less than a week to make an impression before the draft on Thursday.

“I feel like I’m ready,” Ball said. “I’ve been training for this since a young age. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so when the time comes I’m ready for it.”