Durant helps lead Warriors past Pacers after friend’s death
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant established Golden State’s defensive energy by swatting away shots early. Eventually, the Warriors got going on the other end as they almost always do.
Durant had 15 points, six assists and three blocks after losing a close friend earlier in the day, and the Warriors ran away from the Indiana Pacers 112-89 on Thursday night.
Durant led a balanced Warriors attack, playing the same day childhood friend Cliff Dixon was shot to death in Atlanta. Warriors guard Quinn Cook also was close with Dixon as they’re all from the Washington D.C./Maryland area.
Stephen Curry scored 12 of his 15 points with four 3-pointers during the Warriors’ 35-point third quarter in which they limited Indiana to 19.
“Tonight I thought our spirit and our energy were fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said, crediting his group for being “engaged.”
Tyreke Evans scored 20 points off the bench and Thaddeus Young added 18 for the Pacers, who were without coach Nate McMillan for family reasons.
Indiana ended its four-game swing out West by losing an eighth straight road game and missing another chance to clinch a playoff berth following a 115-109 defeat at the Clippers on Tuesday night.
The Warriors, whose defense has become a greater focus with the playoffs approaching, have allowed their fewest points in two of the past four games. Oklahoma City scored 88 points Saturday before the two-time defending champions held down Indiana.
Klay Thompson began 0 for 7, missing his first five 3-pointers, and wound up with 18 points on 7-for-18 shooting. He scored his first field goal of the night, which he followed with another basket the next possession, at the 7:46 mark of the second quarter and his first 3 came in the final minute of the first half as Golden State built a 53-43 lead at the break.
“Well I finally decided to make a shot, so that felt good,” Thompson cracked.
Golden State returned from an impressive 3-1 road trip — with wins at Houston, Oklahoma City and Minnesota and a loss at San Antonio — to play its first game at Oracle Arena since a 115-111 flop against lowly Phoenix on March 10.
DeMarcus Cousins returned after missing two games with a sore right ankle and had 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Andrew Bogut received a warm welcome for his home debut after re-joining the Warriors on the road. The 7-foot big man played on Golden State’s 2015 championship team and the 73-win team the following season that lost in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and he got hurt in Game 5 of the finals and missed the rest of the series.
“In my old age you get a bit sentimental,” Bogut said. “It’s funny how life works, right?”
Both teams had slow starts: The game was tied at 19 after the first quarter, when the Warriors were 1 of 10 on 3s.
“I thought our defensive intensity was good in the first half, and what happens in this league is when you’re not scoring points the flood gates can open,” Pacers assistant Dan Burke said.
Kerr still expects Bogut to make an impact even with Cousins healthy again and despite “an insurance-policy role.”
Bogut had seven rebounds and four points — shooting 1 for 8 — in nine minutes.
And Bogut was greeted exactly how Kerr figured — with “a raucous reception.”
The big man waved and smiled as fans cheered when video highlights were shown on the big screen with “Welcome back Andrew Bogut.”
“I think our fans recognize that, in many ways, Andrew represented the shift in the Warriors organization and its emphasis on defense,” Kerr said. “I think that trade was really kind of the first domino to fall in terms of — well Steph’s drafting was the first one, let’s not forget that one — but shortly thereafter Andrew came over in the trade and there was an organizational shift toward a defensive mindset which I think Mark Jackson implemented and the players started to reflect that philosophy.”
Pacers: G Darren Collison sat out a second straight game with a bruised right quadriceps muscle. When he missed Tuesday it snapped his streak of 71 straight starts this season. ... Indiana is 4-9 on the road vs. the Western Conference, having lost the last five.
Warriors: All five Warriors starters scored in double figures for the fourth time, with Golden State winning each of those. ... The Warriors won 132-100 at Indiana on Jan. 28, getting 39 assists and shooting 54.1 percent and going 13 of 31 on 3s. ... Golden State is 27-4 when notching 30 or more assists (32 on Thursday). ... Bogut is three regular-season games shy of 700 in 14 seasons.
Pacers: Host Nuggets on Sunday.
Warriors: Host Mavericks on Saturday night having won 12 straight at home in the series.
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