Warriors

Why it was harder for Kevin Durant to leave Thunder than Warriors

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Why it was harder for Kevin Durant to leave Thunder than Warriors

Kevin Durant is no stranger to making life-altering decisions.

Back in 2016, Durant stunned the world when he chose to say goodbye to the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Warriors. Three years and two NBA championships later, Durant once again packed up his stuff and moved, this time trading in the Bay Area for the glitz and glamour of New York, joining the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year contract. 

Durant has lived a privileged basketball life. Arguably the most gifted scorer in NBA history, Durant has played alongside Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Klay Thompson. KD came of age in OKC, contending for titles alongside Westbrook and Harden. He then became a champion with the Warriors, helping compile the most talented starting five in NBA history. 

Now that he's a Net, it's fair to ask: Was it harder to leave OKC or Golden State?

For Durant, the answer comes quick and without hesitation.

"Oh, leaving OKC for sure," Durant told Serge Ibaka on Bleacher Report's "How Hungry Are You?" "I mean, I spent eight years there. I built my family there. You know what I'm saying? My whole family lived out there. I done bought houses and did everything there, you know what I'm saying? Like grew up as -- in my 20s. So, it was hard to leave that place and leave like all the equipment guys -- everybody there, the support staff and obviously my teammates. Well, they understood.

"I figured y'all would understand because that's just business, but, like, the other people, I felt a way about and it took me a while to make the decision."

After a season of rumors and speculation, Durant chose to leave the Warriors for the Nets instead of the Knicks. In the end, the decision to leave the Warriors came down to one thing: He could. 

"I mean, it was another opportunity for me to play for another team," Durant told Ibaka of the move. "It wasn't that big of a deal. You know what I'm saying? It was just like, 'I wanna play for the Nets.' It's on the East Coast, close to home, the Nets are solid and it's New York City. I could pick my game up and ply anywhere, so I just did it."

[RELATED: Warriors must take break from greatness after years at top]

Durant is expected to sit out the entire season as he rehabs from rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Ibaka and the Raptors. The Warriors, on the other hand, are getting ready to open their season Thursday when they welcome Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers in the opener at Chase Center. 

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Raiders' vibe hasn't changed as playoff hunt intensifies amid win streak

Raiders' vibe hasn't changed as playoff hunt intensifies amid win streak

ALAMEDA -- As the 2019 NFL season heads toward the home stretch, the Raiders have gone from punchline to playoff contender thanks to grit, resilience and some Jon Gruden magic.

Most teams that have traversed a similar path as the Raiders might alter their approach with the games meaning exponentially more. The Silver and Black were picked to win somewhere between four and six games to start the season, and that was before Antonio Brown auditioned for "The Jerry Springer Show" with help of a guerilla Instagram campaign to get himself released

Oakland won its season-opener buoyed by an us-against-the-world mentality, but the Raiders dropped their next two, hitting rock bottom in a 34-14 loss to the Vikings in Week 3. Some teams might have fractured and folded, but the Raiders responded to win five of their next seven games to head into Week 12 occupying the No. 6 seed in the AFC and just a half-game back of the Chiefs for the AFC West lead.

The Raiders have surprised a lot of people in jumping into the playoff race, but the feeling around the Silver and Black is status quo.

"We've always been a group that has great energy," quarterback Derek Carr said. "Whether it was OTAs, workouts, meetings, training camp, we've had great energy all the time. The fact that there's still great energy in the locker room, that does not surprise me. When we lost a couple games in a row at the beginning of the season, the same energy was still there. It doesn't surprise me it's the same now. We don't get into wins and losses, we don't get into stats and all those kind of things -- Player of the Week and those things because it really doesn't matter until the end of the season.

"The only thing that matters is that we keep doing our same process and that we love what we are doing and who we are doing it with. If we can maintain that thought, that single mindset, the rest takes care of itself."

That early thumping in Minnesota could have defined the Raiders' season. Instead, they went to work, believing in the people in the locker room and the plan Gruden put in place. They survived their five-game road trip to return home at 3-4. and then protected the Coliseum, winning three in a row to move to 6-4. 

They've been hit hard by injuries and roster turnover. But they didn't get down or take their focus off the task at hand. They put their arms around each other and kept their heads down, focused on a singular goal.

"Absolutely," Carr said when asked if the wins have rewarded the team's faith in what they are trying to do. "Because then you start to see like, yeah what we are doing is right. When we do what our coaches say, when we execute our assignments, when everyone just does their job everyone gets to benefit from it.

"As long as our guys can keep a level head -- which they will, we'll make sure of that with those young guys but as long as we keep a level head, it's nice to see our process be rewarded."

That process has seen Carr put together an efficient season that mirrors his 2016 campaign. The offensive line has kept him upright, rookie running back Josh Jacobs has put together a stellar first season but is hungry for more and the defense, ravaged by injuries across the board, has banded together to help secure big wins with fourth-quarter stops.

[RELATED: How Raiders' Waller alters mindset to beat heavy coverage]

The playoffs are within the Raiders' sights.

Even the AFC West title is a possibility as 2019 draws to a close.

Despite where the Raiders find themselves, Gruden is making sure everyone stays the course.

"We're just grinding," Gruden said. "We're in the midst of a fight. We know what we have to try to do to win another game. We got to play better. Play better in all three phases and keep working our hearts out to improve."

Expectations have been met and passed. Now, the Raiders must stay laser-focused on their process to achieve a goal most beleive impossible during the dog days of summer.

Warriors vs. Utah Jazz watch guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

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USATSI

Warriors vs. Utah Jazz watch guide: Lineups, injuries, player usage

With sore backsides and a shrunken roster, the Warriors conclude their four-game road trip Friday night with two particularly difficult challenges.

There is the thin air of Salt Lake City (elevation 4,226 feet), and then there is the smothering defense of the Utah Jazz.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 5 o’clock, with tipoff from Vivint Smart Home Arena scheduled for 6:10.

The Warriors (3-13) are coming off their worst loss in 426 games under coach Steve Kerr, a 142-94 thrashing in Dallas. They were down to eight players after All-Star forward Draymond Green was a late scratch for that game. Green also will be on the sideline Friday night.

Utah (9-5) is bringing its typically stingy defense, holding opponents to an NBA-low 100.6 points per game. The Jazz is No. 1 in defensive rating (100.2), No. 2 in 3-point percentage defense (31.1 percent) and No. 3 in overall field-goal percentage defense (42.3).

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

F Glenn Robinson III
F Eric Paschall
C Willie Cauley-Stein
G Alec Burks
G Ky Bowman

Jazz

F Bojan Bogdanovich
F Royce O’Neale
C Rudy Gobert
G Donovan Mitchell
G Mike Conley

 

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (left hand fracture), G Jacob Evans III (left adductor strain), F Draymond Green (right heel soreness), G Damion Lee (right hand non-displaced fracture), F Kevon Looney (neuropathy), G D’Angelo Russell (right thumb sprain), F Alen Smailagic and G Klay Thompson (right ACL rehab) are listed as out. Looney and Smailagic are on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Jazz: F Ed Davis (left fibula fracture) is listed as out.

 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: The last thing any NBA team wants is to go into one of the high-altitude cities (Denver or Salt Lake City) with an extremely limited bench. That could result in some strange lineup combinations for the Warriors ... Bowman is coming off his strongest game of the season, with 16 points, two assists and zero turnovers in 32 minutes. He could approach 40 minutes in this game. He is up to 20 active NBA days ... Paschall played a season-high 40 minutes at Dallas, where he spent time at both forward spots. That likely will happen again, when the Warriors play Omari Spellman with either Marquese Chriss or Cauley-Stein ... Burks and Robinson played well on Tuesday at Memphis and poorly the next night in Dallas. For the Warriors to have any chance of staying close, they need to bounce back ... Tonight’s available player count: Eight.