Sizzling Steph Curry reunites with Kevin Durant in trivial Warriors loss to Jazz
In Curry's first game with Durant back on the floor, he kept up his hot streak (28 points in 30 minutes)
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The only lingering question after Kevin Durantâs long-awaited return to the court Saturday night was answered in a hurry Monday night. Stephen Curry needed one quarter to prove that Durantâs presence on the court wouldnât wreck his return to MVP form.
Sure, the Warriorsâ winning streak is over at 14 games, but who really cares?
Just like how Saturdayâs result against the Pelicans (a win) meant nothing due to the absences of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Curry, Mondayâs result was also meaningless considering Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood and Klay Thompson sat. Despite the close score in the fourth quarter, Curry didnât see the floor. Durant took a spot on the bench with 7:41 showing on the game clock. The Warriors certainly didnât care about the final result -- neither should anyone else.
Mondayâs game held significance only because it was the first time Durant and Curry shared the court since February.
âThat was part of the idea tonight,â said Steve Kerr, âto get them as many minutes together as possible.â
The idea was well executed. Curry and Durant were in sync almost immediately. Curry assisted on the Warriorsâ first basket of the game (a 20-foot Durant jumper) while Durant hit Curry with a well-timed pass at the top of the arc for Curryâs first 3 of the game minutes later. It turns out Durant was correct when he said Friday at practice that they wouldnât undergo an adjustment phase.
He had a similar message after Mondayâs game.
Fair point. In his first 12 minutes on the floor, Curry scored 15 points, connected on all three of his attempts from deep, and missed only one shot.
When they took Curry out in the second quarter, the Warriors couldnât buy a bucket. When they put him back in, they exploded.
He contributed in more ways than scoring:
At halftime, Curry had racked up 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting. He made five of his first six 3s. He certainly wasnât rusty after missing one game with a knee contusion. In his 13 games previous to Monday, Curry was shooting exactly 50 percent overall and 47.4 percent from beyond the arc. He shot 56.25 percent from the field and 75 percent from 3 against the Jazz. So, the hot streak continues.
But Durant entered halftime with 4 points on 2 of 5 shooting. He, on the other hand, is still rusty after his lengthy time away.
Durant did break out a bit after halftime, beginning to show glimpses of his old self. He made his first two shots, the second of which looked very much like a healthy Kevin Durant.
And then, he electrified Oracle with a thunderous dunk:
He did it again early in the fourth. This time, it was a contested slam:
âIt felt really good,â Durant said. âI canât lie.â
Putting those dunks aside, itâs worth noting Durant still struggled with his outside game. He missed all five of his shots from deep Monday after going 0 for 4 in his return.
âPoints, I donât worry about that because I feel like Iâve got a good advantage on that end,â Durant said. âBut Iâve got to call somebody because my 3-pointer isnât working. Iâve got to figure that out. They looked great tonight, too. I shouldâve been 10 for 12 tonight from the field. I got some shots that I shouldâve made, that I normally make. But Iâve got to make that call, because my 3-pointer isnât working right now.â
That doesnât seem like a situation thatâll continue too long into the future, given who weâre talking about. Durant is still Durant. His shooting touch will reappear. He also found ways to contribute despite his lack of a shot, gathering 10 boards and accumulating six assists to go along with 16 points. A down game for Durant is a double-double.
The point being, donât read too much into this loss. Donât read anything into it at all. Even Kerr isnât. When asked what his biggest takeaway was, the only thing he listed was the lack of injuries the Warriorsâ suffered in the process. The second question during his brief press conference was a sarcastic one from ESPNâs Ethan Strauss, who asked Kerr if heâll ever get over this âbrutal loss.â Kerr played along.
The press conference ended in fitting fashion.
âThereâs really not much to talk about,â Kerr said. âTake care.â
And so, weâve arrived at the end of Part I of the Warriorsâ story. To this point, theyâve answered all of the big questions.
After shipping away two starters to make room for Durant, the Warriors effectively adjusted to life with their new star, marching out to the leagueâs best record. After losing Durant to an injury, the Warriors adjusted again and ripped off 13 consecutive victories. After regaining Durant, the Warriors tossed aside the notion that their star wouldnât be able to reintegrate into a peaking lineup. Curry went off with Durant on the floor, too. Durant, himself, shook the idea he would be a shell of himself after injuring his knee, immediately beginning his first game back with a reverse jam.
That doesnât mean heâs completely back. Durant admitted he has been a âlittle hesitantâ so far in these first two games, especially in the first half. But thatâs to be expected after he missed 19 games.
That also doesnât mean the Warriors donât have any smaller issues to figure out. Matt Barnes is dealing with an ankle injury. Kerr is tinkering with his rotations. He has to decide if he wants to rest any of his players against the Lakers on Wednesday. Unlike last season, when the Warriors were chasing 73 wins, Kerr can actually regulate the minutes of his stars so that theyâre fresh for the playoffs.
The Warriors have officially answered the questions that matter most, the ones that followed them into and throughout the regular season. What happens in their season finale is irrelevant, barring any injuries. The only thing that matters is what happens beyond.
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