The Warriors came away with their third consecutive win, but didn’t cover themselves with glory.
Kevin Durant did, however, leading them to a 128-100 victory over the plucky New York Knicks on Friday at Madison Square Garden.
Durant scored 41 points and Stephen Curry added 29. Here are three takeaways after Golden State dominated the fourth quarter in New York.
KD teases the Big Apple
The good folks of New York crave themselves some Kevin Durant. They put up billboards urging the superstar to sign with the Knicks upon becoming a free agent next July. They persuaded singer Ashanti -- one of Durant’s favorites -- to perform the national anthem.
So what does Durant do? He shows them his entire basketball toolbox: off-the-dribble jumpers, step-back jumpers, slams, impetuous drives and turnaround jumpers along the baseline.
What’s more important is that Durant did it when the Warriors needed it most. With the Knicks hanging tough in the fourth quarter, actually leading by six (87-81), he poured in 25 points in 10 minutes, taking a seat with 2:04 remaining and the Warriors up 121-100.
It was the highest point total of any quarter in Durant’s 11-year career.
The New York celebrities -- Chris Rock and Ben Stiller among them -- got an eyeful of the man they’d like to see in a Knicks jersey.
They wanted a show, and Durant gave it them.
Talent rises late
Aside from a few high-intensity moments, the Warriors spent most of the evening looking sluggish and disinterested, like a team only mildly invested in finding the very best of itself.
Draymond Green, Damian Jones and Kevon Looney combined for 32 minutes in the first half -- and grabbled zero rebounds. If there is a category that measures effort, it is rebounding, and the Warriors were 40-39 losers in that battle.
But the back-to-back defending champs once again showed why they are the league’s elite team. They’re good enough to give an opponent hope, only to snatch it away late.
The Warriors went on a 26-5 run in the fourth because they decided to play defense, take care of the ball and make sure Durant got as many shots as he wanted. After being outrebounded 36-26 through the first three quarters, they came back to outrebound New York 14-3 in the fourth.
They outscored the Knicks 47-16 in the fourth quarter.
DeMarcus Cousins has been a Warrior for less than four months. He has played zero minutes. Hasn’t even suited up.
But there he was, on the bench yapping at the officials -- and receiving his first technical foul and ejection as a member of the Warriors.
Lead official Scott Foster, known for his low tolerance to unvarnished feedback, wasn’t having it and sent Cousins and his nice outfit away from the proceedings.
We don’t know what Cousins said and, knowing Foster, it’s possible he didn’t say much. But Cousins has been around long enough to know how much latitude he has with veteran referees, particularly this one.
If Cousins can’t contain his emotions when he’s not playing, the Warriors may have to brace themselves for what’s to come.
On the other hand, if one must be ejected it’s best that it comes when he’s not even active.