Kevin Durant Explodes in Fourth Quarter carry Warriors to 110-107 Win
After beating the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors (50-14) took on the San Antonio Spurs (37-27). The Warriors were looking to extend their winning streak to seven games and remain perfect in the second half. The Spurs were looking to win their second straight and start their extremely tough road trip with a win. Andre Iguodala would be sitting this game out with a sprained wrist, Jordan Bell would still be out after spraining his ankle against the Nets, and David West was also still out. The Warriors went on to win the game, 110-107.
The first quarter started off slowly for both teams, but the Warriors were particularly slow. They started off going 0/12 on their first 12 field goal attempts, but then they went 5/7. The Spurs also did not get off to a great start, but had an early lead thanks to the Warriors poor shooting. The Warriors were also dealing with the loss of Stephen Curry, who rolled his ankle early in the quarter and had to leave the game. Kevin Durant and Draymond Green stepped up on defense after Curry went out, and they blocked several shots. JaVale McGee was providing a lot of energy on both ends of the court, and threw down a monster dunk in the space of Davis Bertans. Omri Casspi also had a nice sequence off the bench in which he blocked a shot, and then threw down a powerful slam on the other end. Kevin Durant led the team in scoring with nine points, and the next highest scorer was JaVale with four points. After the first quarter, only two Warriors had not scored, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, so the team was doing a nice job of moving the ball and getting everyone involved. LaMarcus Aldridge was the leading scorer for the Spurs with six points. After the first, the Warriors led the Spurs, 28-21.
The second quarter was a slow one for the Warriors, but the Spurs were able to take advantage of the Warrior and grab a lead by halftime. The Spurs managed to grab a lead thanks to solid play from LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 14 points, and Davis Bertans, who had 10 points. The Warriors were unable to get anything going on a consistent basis offensively in the second quarter, and at times their offense was very stagnant. Kevin Durant was blazing the trail for the Warriors with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. Only one other Warrior was playing particularly well, and his name was JaVale McGee. He continued to provide a lot of energy on both ends, and picked up another block in the second quarter on LaMarcus Aldridge. At the half, the Warriors had only turned the ball over six times, but they were behind largely because they were shooting 38.5% from the field, and were abysmal from deep at 1/11. The Spurs were shooting 39.1% from the field, and they were shooting 33.3% from three. Klay Thompson had a pretty rough first half on the offensive end, finishing with just four points on 2/10 shooting. At the half, the Spurs led the Warriors 50-46.
In the third quarter, the Warriors and Spurs went shot-for-shot with each other until the last few minutes. In the last couple minutes, the Spurs went on a 9-0 run to take a lead into the fourth quarter. The Warriors were playing solid defense for the majority of the quarter, but made some key mistakes down the stretch. They also got a little too trigger happy from beyond the arc as the quarter progressed, while the Spurs were able to make a lot of tough shots. Kevin Durant finished the quarter with 22 points, and JaVale was the next highest scorer with 13 points. LaMarcus Aldridge continued to be the hot hand for the Spurs, and had 24 points heading to the fourth. After the third quarter, the Spurs led 87-78.
For the majority of the fourth quarter, the Warriors were playing catch up, while the Spurs were trying to put the Warriors away with some solid shooting. The Warriors did manage to cut the deficit to just two points relatively quickly, which was impressive considering that Kevin Durant was on the bench until there were about six minutes left in the game. When Kevin Durant checked in though...he was absolutely locked in. He took the game over. He nailed big shot after big shot, and at one point, he scored 14 straight points. He was a force to be reckoned with down the stretch, and reminded everyone that he is still very good at basketball. Several other players came up big down the stretch, like Draymond Green, who messed around and got a triple-double. The Warriors outscored the Spurs by 12 points in the fourth quarter, and they won the game 110-107.
This game was one of the most impressive wins of the year for the Golden State Warriors. They were without Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, David West, Jordan Bell, and Pat McCaw, and were still able to pull out a win over the San Antonio Spurs. Now, of course you can say something like “Wow, they had to gut out a win with only three all stars and one MVP. How impressive”, but that would be seriously discounting everything that those five men do for this team. Stephen Curry is the best floor-spacer in the league because he requires so much attention on defense, and that creates open passing lanes to the hoop. Andre Iguodala handles the ball with the second unit and plays very solid defense in crunch time. David West is one of the most consistent players on the Warriors this season, despite the fact that he is 37 years old. Jordan Bell is able to provide energy and explosiveness off the bench, and McCaw has his moments. The Warriors only had 10 players who could actually play by the time, and they were able to play some really effective defense in crunch time, as well as play nice complimentary offense to Kevin Durant.
Now, Kevin Durant was the story of the game. He stepped up when Steph went down, and he did so almost immediately. Approximately 15 seconds after Steph left the game, he blocked a shot, and from then on, he appeared to be absolutely locked in. The Warriors desperately needed that kind of performance from KD tonight, as the rest of the team was having a hard time scoring on a consistent basis. Klay Thompson struggled, finishing with just 13 points on 5/13 shooting, and that would be a much bigger deal if KD wasn’t as good as he was. Kevin Durant was exceptionally good down the stretch, and scored 14 straight points at one point. Tonight, he was the Easy Money Sniper, the Slim Reaper, Steve Jobs, and Mozart. He was incredible, and finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks.
Several other Warriors had good games as well. Draymond Green was exceptional on defense, and played well on offense aside from some poor three point shooting. He finished with a triple-double. He had 11 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and two blocks. JaVale McGee had his best game of the season, and he finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks. Shaun Livingston quietly had one of his best games of the year, and finished with nine points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and a block. Nick Young also added 12 points off of the bench.
The Spurs also played a really solid game, and I thought that they were going to beat the Warriors until Durant got hot late in the fourth quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds. Six players had double-digit scoring numbers for the Spurs, and as a team they shot 45.3% from the field, and 27.3% from three. They shot the ball better than the Warriors, who only shot 43.2% overall, and 26.7% from three. The problem for the Spurs was that they were missing their KD tonight, they have been without Kawhi Leonard, who was an MVP finalist last season, for the majority of this year. Without Kawhi, this team can still run with anybody in the league, thanks to stellar coaching from Gregg Popovich, but without Kawhi, they don’t have someone to take over late in games like many other teams in the NBA do.
The Warriors play their next game on Friday, March 9, in Portland against the Trail Blazers at 7:00 p.m.