Three things we learned Thursday: Kevin Durant may be human, Warriors roll anyway
Just four games on the slate Thursday night, but if you were busy tickling rats here is what you would have learned watching NBA games...
1) Kevin Durant is human, but Warriors offense just keeps on rolling anyway. We knew that with Kevin Durant getting added to a lineup that already had Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and the most firepower in the league, he was going to have nights where he just wouldn’t put up jaw-dropping numbers — and it wouldn’t matter.
That happened Thursday night — Durant “only” had 18 points on a night he was 1-of-7 shooting outside the paint. That ended his streak of 20-point scoring games at 72. Which is still just a ridiculous number and tied Michael Jordan for fourth all time (the record is 126 by Wilt Chamberlain, a man who scored at will on and off the court). Still, this is what qualifies as an off night for Durant.
And it didn’t matter because Stephen Curry’s ankle was fine (Steve Kerr almost rested him), he dropped 33 with seven threes, and the Warriors blew out the Nuggets 125-101. Curry was just being Curry (and his shot chart was an analytic dream night, with 16-of-17 shot attempts being either threes or at the rim, just one midrange jumper).
In a development as surprising as the Browns losing a football game, the Warriors have taken over the top spot in NBA offensive rating — they are scoring 111.8 points per 100 possessions after this win, which puts them in front of Cleveland and Boston for the top spot (but still just slightly off their 112.5 per 100 pace of last season). On offense, the Warriors are figuring it out fast. Defensively they have not yet been consistent, but they had a good night against a solid Denver team Thursday, doing it while on the second night of a back-to-back. The Warriors may be figuring out how to assemble Voltron.
2) Dwyane Wade goes home, picks up some love and a win. It may gnaw at the gut of Pat Riley, but fans in Miami love Dwyane Wade — and they let him know it Thursday night as he returned to American Airlines Arena in a Chicago Bulls uniform. Wade showed the hometown fans some flashes of what they miss.
However, this night reminded everyone why Wade should be rested on the second night of back-to-backs — 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting, 0-of-4 from three. The difference Thursday night was Wade had help in the form of Jimmy Butler, who had eight of his 20 in the fourth, while the Bulls defense held Miami to 39 percent shooting in the fourth (despite strong efforts from Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson). Thanks to that Chicago came out with the win and improved to 5-4 on the young season.
3) New Orleans wins! New Orleans wins! This game was fun because Anthony Davis (32 points) and Jabari Parker (33 points, with more than half of his shots uncontested somehow) put on a show.
The difference was Davis got some help — E’Twaun Moore had 20 points, while Tim Frazier put up 15 points and 10 assists. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points and 10 boards (however five fouls made him a useless defender down the stretch), but take Paker and the Greek Freak out of the equation and the Bucks shot just 40.8 percent. That’s two games in a row the Bucks have let a team secure its first win of the season against them, which is not a good look.