New York, NY— Kevin Durant put on an absolute clinic in Madison Square Garden Friday night, finishing with 41 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. He led the Golden State Warriors (5-1) past the New York Knicks (1-5), 128-100.
If you watched the game from start to finish, New York was in it up until the eight-minute mark in the first before the second best player in the game completely took over. He left the Knicks fans and players star struck in the contest. However, before we get to Durant, let’s talk about New York’s performance.
A team always wants to put on their best performance at home, but there’s always going to be a little extra motivation when the Warriors come to town. It wasn’t just that Golden State was in town though, it was that Durant was in town. Next summer he will be a free agent and the Knicks are trying to lure him in with signs around town.
New York played hard, but lost its chance to close the game specifically with its poor shooting, turnovers, and the man of the game, Durant.
One aspect of the game that went wrong was New York fell in love with the long ball. In the first half, the Knicks came out strong starting 6-of-9 from the field and hitting their first three three-pointers in the opening quarter. However, once they saw a few triples go down, they started shooting further and further back — a huge mistake. Some of those three-point attempts seemed to be shot from Times Square and weren’t going in. By the end of the first, New York finished shooting only 4-of-16 from the field, and at the half, they shot a lousy 5-of-21 from downtown.
Surprsingly though, despite their poor shooting, the Knicks were tied with the Warriors at the end of both the first and second quarters. At one point in the second, Golden State had a 12-point advantage but the Knicks still found a way to score in the inside to keep up with Golden State. Granted this was in large part to the Warriors not really playing the brand of basketball we’re accustomed to seeing in the early going: quick baskets in transition.
Even with Golden State shooting better from the field than New York and scoring 10 more points off of turnovers than the Knicks in the first half, it was still a close game. The Warriors through the first three quarters gave a 1-4 Knicks team confidence they could beat Golden State.
To help the cause, Golden State turned the ball over numerous times. Although they finished the game with 14 turnovers, six of those came in the first seven minutes of the third quarter alone after only turning the ball over a total of six times in the first half.
While the Warriors had their own turnovers, New York accumulated even more which contributed to picking up the loss Friday night. By the end of the match-up, the Knicks allowed Golden State to score 31 points off of their 20 turnovers. To make matters even worse, New York only scored 16 points off of the Warriors miscues and fell into a shooting slump.
The Knicks shot a freezing 43 percent from the field in the game and still couldn’t seem to stop shooting from beyond-the-arc when they weren’t knocking them down. As a team, they finishing the game shooting 33 percent from the field.
When a team has a mixture of those two things — poor shooting and turnovers – they fear Golden State is going to make a patented run to close out the game. And as Halloween looms, the Knicks worst nightmare came true, because another reason why New York lost this matchup was that they didn’t have the player they’re salivating over and dreaming about in hopes he joins them: Kevin Durant.
Durant, who came into this game averaging 30 points on 42 percent shooting from distance in the eight games he’s played at the Garden, silently killed New York. So much so, that you have to wonder if him going scoreless in the third quarter was just a tease to allow the Knicks to believe that they had a chance to actually close the game out.
It seemed as if Durant started getting flashbacks of his legendary performance that he had at Rucker Park a couple years back because the man was absolutely unconscious in the final frame.
He finished with a season-high 41 points — 25 of those points coming in the fourth quarter on 10-of-13 shooting.
“I tried to be aggressive to score,” Durant said after the win. “I thought our third quarter was pretty bad and I tried to give us a spark there scoring the basketball in the fourth and kind of got us going by making shots.”
Golden State can beat you in so many ways and can get hot at so many different times in a game to where you never know when they’ll sneak up on you and take over in a game where they weren’t themselves until the fourth quarter.
Klay Thompson has been in a slump, DeMarcus Cousins won’t be back till maybe sometime in January, but the Warriors still have Durant and Stephen Curry leading the charge and getting victories. That’s the luxury of playing for Golden State. One guy might be cold, but you have two other scorers who can get you 30 to 40 points when asked. Curry’s hot shooting continued as he chipped in with 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including six triples.
Durant has had an efficient last two games for the Warriors shooting 71 percent. This doesn’t come as a shock to a player of Durant’s caliber, it’s simply preparation.
“I want to shoot good shots,” shared Durant. “Shoot the shot that I practice every day, shoot with confidence and just prepare right before the game so that I can come out here and be myself when the lights turn on.”
After being tied at 91 around the eight-minute mark in the fourth, the Warriors closed the game out on a 37-9 run and outscored the Knicks 47-16 in the final stanza of play.
Even though New York struggled, Tim Hardaway Jr. as well as, Frank Ntilikina both played well in the contest for the Knicks with Hardaway scoring 24 points and Ntilikina contributed 17 on 6-of-11 shooting. New York was also solid defensively in the game — before the last quarter, as they came into tonight second in forcing turnovers, however, it wasn’t enough in what was a close game turned blowout.
The Knicks are trying to lure Durant for next season. Besides just trying to sell Durant on strictly New York, it seems that New York is trying to take the Los Angeles Lakers approach from last year. The Lakers showed that they had hungry and talented young guys with pieces that you can build around, a young coach, and a competent front office.
Golden State will be staying in New York as they head to Brooklyn to face the Nets on Oct. 28. On the opposing end, the Knicks’ next game is also against Brooklyn on Oct. 29.