The day before Game 3 of the Western Conference first round playoff series between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, Kevin Durant talked about not just shooting over the top of the defense. On Thursday, Durant shot over the top of the Clippers’ defense for 38 points in a 132-105 victory.
The win gave the Warriors a (2-1) series lead. It also erased any doubts about whether Durant can handle the unorthodoxed approach by Doc Rivers and his coaching staff. Durant scored 12 early points, including 5 of 5 shooting to begin the first quarter. He also found Andrew Bogut for an easy dunk.
However, foul trouble plagued Durant early. First, an offensive foul was called as he cut back door. Moments later, Durant was called for a defensive foul when he was trying to guard his man on a curl. Durant also committed a couple of turnovers. Yet, the stage was set in the first seven minutes of the game. By the time Durant had his first rest, the Warriors were up 25-13 with 4 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Warriors expanded the lead with Durant on the bench. Within one minute of action, Kevon Looney converted on three dunks. Looney also hit a wide open mid-range jump shot to give the Warriors a 34-18 lead. Furthermore, consecutive 3-pointers by Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry helped push the 1st quarter lead to 41-24 before time expired.
Normally, the Warriors would have been content with their big lead. However, they were coming off of a game where the Clippers fought back from 31-point deficit in the third quarter. There was no chance of this happening twice in a row.
Durant was only getting started. The Warriors shot 69.6 percent from the field in the first quarter. They didn’t shoot as well for the rest of the game. Yet, they still made at least 48 percent of their shot attempts in each of the last three quarters. More importantly, Durant led the charge. He was 14 of 23 shooting on the night. Keep in mind, Durant was only 3 of 10 from 3-point range.
Curry didn’t have one of his vintage games due to foul trouble. In similar fashion to Durant, Curry picked up two early touch fouls. Therefore, the hot shooting point guard only played limited minutes. He still shot 7 of 11 from the field in 20 minutes. His 21 points was still second on the team. Meanwhile, Iguodala produced a strong bench performance in Game 3. He scored 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting.
The defense was just as impressive. Ivan Zubac was the only starter to score in double figures. He finished with 18 points. Once again, the bench played a strong role for the Clippers. Lou Williams scored 16 points, but didn’t have an efficient scoring game. JaMychal Green and Montrezl Harrell scored 15 points apiece.
Durant also picked up his third technical foul of the playoffs for talking. Seven technical fouls is an automatic suspension. The NBA is actively trying to suspend players in the most important games. Therefore, this nonsense rule is going to really be a factor. Durant hopes the technical will be suspended.