LOS ANGELES, CA-In a pregame press conference before his Golden State Warriors team hit the floor in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Kerr said he liked the energy of his ballclub.
“The energy is good. I think our guys admitted that we probably were a little bit, I don’t know what the right word is, I think we were probably taking things for granted a little bit the other night,” Kerr told reporters.
“We didn’t come out with the edge that we needed, and we know that it’s just going to take a lot better of an effort,” Kerr added. “Our guys are excited to play, they’ve been doing this for a while, and they’ve been in a lot of different situations in the Playoffs and they’ve always responded well. I have a good feeling about the way that we’ll play tonight, and we’ll see what happens.”
Kerr had good reason to like the energy the Warriors played with during the first half against the Clippers, especially with the way that Kevin Durant was shooting the basketball. Durant held his own personal shooting clinic in the first two quarters, going for 38 points in the half on his way to a 50-point night as the Warriors put away the Clippers with a 129-110 win at Staples Center.
“That was one of the great performances I’ve ever seen in my life,” Kerr said. “And I’ve seen some good ones. I’ve been around some decent players. So, he just carried us these last couple of games of the series. He’s the ultimate weapon because there’s no defense for Kevin. No matter what anybody does, he can get a good shot. And he knew we needed him badly. And he just took over the game in the first half and set a great tone.”
It was a sparkling display of dominance that the two-time NBA Finals MVP delivered in the closeout game for the Warriors. It didn’t matter who was guarding him, Durant kept finding ways to elevate his 7-foot frame and shooting over Clippers defenders all night. This is what makes Durant probably the most unstoppable scorer in the NBA, and why Golden State has won back-to-back titles.
“He’s just a great player,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He really is. We played just about everybody on him. There were four times in the first half where we actually made a defensive mistake where we kind of helped but not really. They threw it to him; we got out there, and he still made them. When he gets it going, he’s really one of those guys like you just have to hope he misses. I thought Pat [Patrick Beverley] had some impact on him the beginning of the third. But you knew it wasn’t going to last and it didn’t. He’s just a great player and that’s why he’s Durant.”
With the Clippers jumping out to an early first quarter lead, Durant started popping 3-pointers from all over the court and couldn’t stop. Durant made the second quarter his own showcase as he dropped 23 points in the period, one more than the entire Clippers (22 points) squad. By halftime, Golden State had expanded its 35-31 first-quarter advantage into a 72-53 lead.
“Like sometimes — sometimes you come across special people and it doesn’t matter what you send to them,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said. “There’s no scheme. There’s no nothing that you can do with special people. He’s one of them. And he showed it tonight. He put them guys on his shoulders. Even the game he came out, he was, like, I’m Kevin Durant; y’all know who I am. That’s like a bold statement to make when you’re about to go see some guys that’s extremely competitive. And he came out that game and he said, I can really shoot over these guys and he did it. It wasn’t lack of effort on our part. He’s an all-world professional and he proved himself. He proved exactly who people think he is, who he thinks he is himself and he did it. And you tip your hat off to a guy like that.”
When it mattered most, the star power of the Warriors was too much in the end for the Clippers to overcome. The two-time champs, winner of three of the last NBA Finals, parlayed their playoff experience and high-voltage offense against the upstart Clippers to beat Los Angeles three times at Staples Center during this series, which many experts predicted would be shorter than the six-game outcome.
As for his 50-point explosion in Game 6, Durant said he tries to be as consistent as he can every game.
“I just keep on humming no matter what. I just play my game through it all,” Durant said. “I definitely don’t want to go away from my teammates if they’re struggling to shoot the ball. Still, keep them in the game. But at the same time be aggressive and try to win the game as well.”
“But we trust in all our guys, and — like, Klay, Steph, if they’re not making shots early, we’re still going to try to find them and get them going,” Durant continued. “I think they do that with everybody. If I’m not going to start the game we’re all trying to look for each other. We play a team game. When everybody touches the basketball, we’re in good shape.”