Kevin Durant vows to control self after taking Patrick Beverley's bait

Kevin Durant vows to control self after taking Patrick Beverley's bait

OAKLAND -- In the days leading up to the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Clippers, Warriors coach Steve Kerr had a stern warning for his team: Don't take the bait that Patrick Beverley is serving.

In the Warriors' 121-104 win in Game 1, Kevin Durant didn't follow the scouting report, earning two technical fouls aided by the seventh-year journeyman.

As the series progresses, Durant and the Warriors will have to try to keep their emotions in check and, more importantly, not let Beverley get under their skin.

"He took the bait," Kerr said. "That's two technicals, your seventh one is a suspension in the playoffs. Whether you play four games or 24, seven is the magic number. He's got four to play with." 

Each technical, which came within a 19-second span in the fourth quarter, involved some level of jawing. The first, which came with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, involved a friendly back-and-forth. Then, Durant, after guarding Beverley full court, fouled the guard, forcing him to the ground, then stood over him before referee Ed Malloy decided to eject both players.

"I got pushed, I got up, I got ejected," Beverley said. "I guess the refs saw something that I don't know, but that's all right."

"That's what Beverley does," Kerr added. "We talked about it for the last couple of days. He's a hell of a defender. He plays hard. Got a lot of respect for him."

Durant and Beverley have history. They faced each other while in college during the 2006-07 season, Durant with Texas and Beverley with Arkansas. Durant went on to be the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, and Beverley was taken by the Lakers two years later in the second round, working his way into the NBA playing overseas, with brief stints in Greece, Ukraine and Russia before catching on with the Houston Rockets midway through the 2012-13 season.

In the 2013 Western Conference playoffs, Beverley, guarding Durant's then-teammate Russell Westbrook, reached for a steal as the Thunder star was calling a timeout, inadvertently hitting the guard's knee and subsequently tearing Westbrook's meniscus. That ended Westbrook's season and the Thunder's title hopes.

Still, it did little to stale the respect Durant has for the journeyman Clippers guard.

"Nah," Durant told NBC Sports Bay Area when asked if there was any ill will from the play. "I love Patrick Beverley."

"I've been playing against Pat Beverly since he was at Arkansas, so I kind of know what he brings," Durant said minutes later in the postgame press conference. "He's a Chicago kid, grew up and played in the Chicago area, so those dudes play with a different type of grit, so I can appreciate that about Pat. You know what he's going to bring to the table, just physically mucking up the game a little bit with his physicality. That's what he brings to each team he plays on."

Throughout the game, Durant and Beverley seemed to have each other's attention. In the third quarter, after being called for a foul, Beverley mocked Durant after the Warriors forward flailed his arms as he took a step out of bounds following the whistle.

As for the play that got them tossed, Durant seemed surprised both players earned an ejection.

"It was just -- not friendly, but just trash talk, you know, it's emotional play for him, so he's going to show his intensity after that play, and I respected it, and I'm sure everybody on the court did," Durant said. "But it was the same play for me coming back on the other end, where I had an opportunity to bring some intensity to the arena, to the game, to my team, and I thought it was a perfect time for me to do so, without resulting in a technical foul."

In an odd twist, Durant's ejection seemed to energize the Warriors -- or at least one teammate in particular. Seconds after Malloy revealed his verdict, Draymond Green got in Durant's face, yelling words of encouragement as he escorted his teammate to the tunnel right behind the team's bench.

"There's always little things within the game, and so there's always stuff going on out there on the floor," Green said. "You know, meanwhile, K was 8 for 16 with 23 points. Pretty solid night, you know, at the office. That was good. I like to see people battle, and I love that."

Still, there remains the issue of Durant's technicals. As Kerr noted, a player needs seven techs to trigger an automatic suspension in the playoffs, no matter how far the player's team advances. With that in mind, Durant picking up two technicals in the first game isn't ideal for a team with title aspirations.

"I can control myself," Durant said.

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For the Warriors, the mantra for this series and beyond will be the same.

"Don't take the bait," Kerr said. "We took it, so you just can't do it. But sometimes you have to feel it before you can follow through and execute on that. So, we're going to have to be really solid."

Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Another day, another crazy comment on the Internet.

On Thursday morning, Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated said the following after LeBron James and the Lakers throttled the injury-riddled Warriors on Wednesday night:

"In a way, LeBron James won his rivalry with the Warriors. Sure, he was just 1-3 against them in the Finals. But with the Dubs done and the Lakers looking like contenders, it appears his dynasty has outlasted theirs -- which is something that once seemed unimaginable, considering James was in the midst of a fifth straight Finals trip when they first met, and since a 73-win team added KD before the rubber match.

"And what James said about missing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in 2015 has some validity. Of all their meetings, none will have the meaning of 2016. The comeback from 3-1 to vanquish what would have been the greatest season in NBA history must still sting in a way LeBron losing with Matthew Dellavedova as his wingman won't.

"And I don't think anyone believed it was reasonable for James to conquer Golden State plus Durant after that. Now the Warriors are in the lead for the lottery while the Lakers are on top of the West with LeBron on an early MVP campaign and leading the league in assists."

First and foremost -- the Warriors beat LeBron and the Cavs in the NBA Finals three times out of four. So no -- in no way, shape or form did LeBron win his rivalry against Golden State.

We could just end this article right now, but let's continue a little longer.

Yes, LeBron is off to a terrific start this season and the Lakers are rolling at 9-2.

But what if Los Angeles doesn't win the championship this year? We have no clue how things are going to play out.

Even if the Lakers ultimately win the 2020 title, it will not be an indictment whatsoever on the Warriors, who have been decimated by injuries.

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Now, it would be a different story if a healthy Lakers team beat a healthy Warriors team in the playoffs, but that won't be happening this season.

Hopefully, we get to see a Warriors-Lakers matchup sometime in May 2021. That would be great for the NBA and basketball fans everywhere, and actually could be used as "evidence" when discussing the "LeBron-Warriors rivalry."

Until then, it's silly to make any sort of judgments.

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Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Today is a bad day for college basketball and its fans.

Memphis star freshman James Wiseman -- the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft -- was declared ineligible.

The school issued the following statement:

University of Memphis student-athlete James Wiseman has decided to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University. The University supports the decision, as it believes it is in James' and the men's basketball team's best interests to resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process.

In order to move the matter forward, the University has declared James ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.

The NCAA is fully aware of the unique nature and challenges in this particular case, and the University is confident that the NCAA will render a fair and equitable decision consistent with its mission. 

Spoiler alert -- it will be shocking if the NCAA renders a fair and equitable decision.

Sorry Warriors fans, but you probably won't be able to watch the 18-year-old phenom again this season. Neither will Golden State's front office:

Wiseman -- who is listed at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds -- averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in his first three games with the Tigers, while shooting 77 percent overall and over 70 percent from the free throw line.

The Warriors currently sport a record of 2-10, and it's not inconceivable that they end up in position to draft Wiseman in June.

So why is he ineligible exactly? As ESPN's Jeff Borzello writes:

The school acknowledged last week that [Penny] Hardaway, before he became the Tigers' head coach, provided $11,500 in moving expenses for Wiseman and his family to move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. At the time, Hardaway was Wiseman's AAU coach and would then coach him at Memphis East High School. Hardaway, a Memphis alum, was considered a booster due to a $1 million donation he gave the school in 2008 to build a sports Hall of Fame.

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Wow. Hardaway is nothing short of a monster and Wiseman should never be allowed to play basketball again.

That's obviously a joke, and it's a complete joke that Wiseman can't suit up for Memphis right now.

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