What a difference a game makes.
Wednesday night, Durant shot 16 times, scored 22 points, and got literally anything he wanted with no extra curriculars.
After his first real dud of a game in Sacramento, Durant said that coming out aggressive Wednesday was in direct response:
“I took 10 shots and six of them were threes last game, I wasn’t aggressive at all. I feel like teams want me to stay outside the 3-point line, when I get inside of it I feel like I’m even more dangerous even if I’m missing.”
It didn’t hurt that Golden State (44-8) were playing against an undermanned Bulls (26-27) team with no answer for Durant, or basically anyone.
Durant took seven first quarter shots and that aggressiveness led the Warriors to a 123-92 victory in what can loosely be described as a game.
And that incident with Green? Durant said it was not only a small thing but it actually helped him:
“I didn’t even know that was a big deal until he came to the locker room and told me about it today. But I didn’t have any energy [that game] and he seen that. We went back and forth there and I got like three or four blocks in the fourth quarter after… And that little, whatever that was we had helped. Sometimes you need that. It’s a long season and every player goes mentally through ebbs and flows so it was good for me.”
The Warriors were content to hunt highlights all game while playing on power save mode for a good majority of the night.
Although it did pay off as they bagged a couple of top-shelf highlights, like this one:
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 9, 2017
Or this one:
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 9, 2017
They didn’t need to exert much effort as they still built a quality lead over the shorthanded Bulls. Although quality describes the point differential, not how it was built.
The Bulls were without Jimmy Butler who missed his second-straight game with a heel injury, and also Dwyane Wade, who sat out the game for rest. This is becoming a trend among teams, when one of their starters is banged up to throw in the towel and rest their other stars too.
Green said that when that happens you have to manufacture the energy because it’s deflating to not get a teams best shot:
“It’s just a natural let down. But I think the thing that helped us is we just got our ass kicked in Sacramento the other day.”
And without Chicago’s stars the talent discrepancy was just too wide as even the Warriors at 50 percent effort were way too much for the talent barren Bulls.
Green did his own Durant impression as he hit five 3-pointers, which ties his season high, en route to 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and no taunts — at least not toward his own teammate.
Draymond Green hits a 3 on Mirotic: "He better bring his a** out" pic.twitter.com/pagoWRo2D8
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 9, 2017
Stephen Curry said that when Green starts hitting threes, it brings out even more trash talking and opens up the team’s offensive capabilities:
“He usually starts talking a little bit more when he makes a couple in a row. Tonight he found a lot of them in rhythm. I think there was only like one heat check and he made it. He’s obviously a capable shooter and when he gets going it just adds another option for us.”
JaVale McGee started his fourth-straight game Wednesday, and aside from his big highlight, had himself another solid game. He finished with 13 points and six rebounds and has filled in solidly for injured center Zaza Pachulia.
Although he took a hard fall on his hip but looks to have escaped with just some bruises Steve Kerr said:
“JaVale’s been great. He said that both cheeks really hurt, so just for your information both cheeks are injured. We’ll check the cheeks individually tomorrow and we’ll see how he’s doing.”
McGee’s ability to finish around the rim and put up points have brought the Warriors starting five to a different level. In fact, Wednesday night was just the fourth time that all five Golden State starters have broken double figures all season.
They had to wait until the third quarter to reach that plateau, with an unlikely straggler in Curry, who finished with just 13 points, snapping his streak of 16 straight 20-point-plus games.
The slack was picked up by birthday boy Klay Thompson, who poured in the points and finished with 28 on his 27th birthday.
It was the perfect game to follow a disappointing loss to the Kings, it was a game that allowed the Warriors to have fun and play with joy, without any real consequences for not being 100 percent locked in.
And that’s something everyone, but especially Kevin Durant appreciated.
The Warriors now embark on a three-game road trip that starts Friday with a tough back-to-back against the Grizzlies and Thunder. The Grizzlies are one of two teams—the other being the Spurs—who are undefeated against the Warriors this year, with a 21-point win in early December and a nine-point overtime win January 6.
Rookie Patrick McCaw has seen his playing time rise the last nine games, averaging just over 17 minutes per game in that span. Wednesday McCaw played just eight minutes tonight and had three points. … The Warriors remain perfect against the East at home this year, improving to 9-0. They’ve been dominant against the East, owning a 16-2 record this season. … Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were presented with their co-Player of the Month awards before the game. … Briante Weber made his Warriors debut with two points in seven minutes of action. The speedy guard is currently signed to a 10-day contract set to expire February 13.