The Warriors lost a game on Tuesday night. But they lost more than that, too. Golden State forward Kevin Durant sustained a left knee injury less than two minutes into the game and did not return. The Warriors ended up falling to the Wizards 112-108 in Washington — to start 1-1 on their five-game road trip.
More importantly, the Warriors will play without Durant for at least the next month after it was determined that he suffered a Grade 2 medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain and tibial bone bruise.
The Warriors didn’t set a timeline for Durant’s return but said he will be re-evaluated in four weeks, and that he has not been ruled out to return late in the regular season or for the playoffs.
On “Warriors WrapUp,” the team’s postgame show, we discussed how the Warriors might fare playing without Durant. Is it possible that the San Antonio Spurs could catch the Warriors for the best overall record and thereby claim home-court advantage? Well, that could depend on Durant’s exact return date.
Without Durant, the Warriors relied more heavily on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, neither of whom could really ever get it going. Curry had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, when he pulled up from 30-plus feet with the Warriors down two and five seconds left.
The ball bounded long off the rim, Markieff Morris got the rebound and was fouled by Draymond Green with 3.7 seconds left. Morris made both free throws to finish off the Warriors.
Curry finished with 25 points but once again couldn’t get anything going from 3-point range. Though he shot 9-for-20 from the floor, he missed 7 of nine 3-pointers and committed five turnovers. In the past two games, Curry is 2-for-20 from beyond the arc.
Thompson had 16 points but was a volume shooter against the Wizards, going 5-for-20 from the floor. He, too, wasn’t very good from deep, missing 10 of his 13 3-pointers. The Warriors have been awful from long range for consecutive games now. In their 119-108 win over Philly on Monday, they made just 6 for 29 from 3-point range. Against Washington, the Warriors went 8-for-28 from beyond the arc.
John Wall had a career-high 19 assists, but he went just 6-for-20 from the floor — in large part because Thompson once again did a nice defensive job on an opposing point guard. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Wizards’ shooting guard, Bradley Beal, was good from the field, scoring 25 points on 8-for-17 shooting, including 4-for-10 from 3-point range.
Sure, it was disappointing being down 61-49 to the Wizards at halftime. But the Warriors had bigger fish to fry, what with Durant suffering an injury just a minute into the game. The play occurred when Wizards center Marcin Gortat seemed to throw down Zaza Pachulia while jostling for position. Pachulia fell backward onto the floor, and his back collided with Durant’s left knee.
Durant was diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee — with MRIs pending. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he didn’t know the extent of Durant’s injury but the team expected to get results on Wednesday. The Warriors might be looking at the prospect of playing without one of their four all-stars for an extended period of time.
About an hour after the final horn, it was reported by multiple outlets that the Warriors were poised to sign free-agent forward Matt Barnes. The Warriors had been expected to sign point guard Jose Calderon, so the logical conclusion is that the Durant injury changed their course.
Still, signing Barnes doesn’t necessarily mean Durant’s injury is more serious than anticipated. Even if Durant were to just miss two or three weeks, signing Barnes would seem to make sense because they need another small forward on the roster.
Barnes is very well-liked in the Bay Area, having played for the “We Believe” Warriors of 2006-07. That team made it to the postseason after missing the playoffs for 12 consecutive years. But he will turn 37 years old in a week, and for the past two years he hasn’t shot the ball well from distance.
It was tough to tell whether the Warriors came out sluggish from tip-off or whether they got that way after Durant went to the locker room just a minute-and-a-half into the game. Regardless, the Wizards were in attack mode from the get-go and took control from the start.
Washington led 39-20 late in the first quarter and held a double-digit lead throughout the second quarter.