Saturday night’s Warriors-New Orleans game was all about the return of Kevin Durant. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
And all in all, you’d have to consider it a success because after the final horn sounded, Durant was still healthy and feeling good — and not just because the Warriors beat the Pelicans 123-101 at Oracle Arena.
Durant returned after missing the past 19 games with a left knee injury –sustained in a February 30 game agains the Washington Wizards. Durant came back with a bang, scoring the team’s first bucket with a baseline drive that ended in a reverse dunk. He followed that up with a nice feed to Zaza Pachulia off a pick and roll.
Durant leveled off as the game went on, but he didn’t seem to show any ill effects from the injury. He looked very comfortable moving around, and the only thing that looked a little sketchy was his 3-point shooting.
Durant finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes. He went 6-for-15 from the field, but missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
It was nice that Durant came back for this particular game because it was devoid of a few stars. Warriors guard Stephen Curry sat out because of a left knee contusion, and the Pelicans were without DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
It wasn’t quite a perfect night for the Warriors (66-14), who won their 14th consecutive game. Forward Matt Barnes sprained his right ankle/foot in the first half and did not return.
The Warriors, of course, have clinched the No. 1 seed in this year’s Western Conference playoffs, and now it looks like their opponent is coming into focus. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz on Saturday to reduce their magic number to one to clinch the No. 8 spot. Should the Blazers hold on, the Warriors will open the first-round of the postseason against Portland at Oracle Arena either Saturday or Sunday.
He sustained the injury March 30 against the Washington Wizards, and he ended up coming back just about exactly when he was expected to: 6-ish weeks.
Kevin Durant didn’t just come back for the warriors on Saturday nigh
Durant missed 19 games with left knee injury.
Curry left knee contusion. No DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis.