OAKLAND — With just over four minutes to go in the Golden State Warriors’ eventual 113-111 come-from-behind win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon, Kevin Durant went careening into the lane and lost his handle.
After the ball popped into the air, the former MVP reclaimed it, and laid it in, handing the Dubs a 101-100 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
On an afternoon when Klay Thompson continued his playoff-long disappearing act and a sore left knee kept Andre Iguodala anchored to the bench throughout the second-half surge, Durant and Stephen Curry combined for 74 points to carry the Warriors past the Spurs.
“Steph got us going in the third,” Durant explained after the Splash Brother went for 40 points. “I just tried to do my part in the fourth and he finished it off for us.”
Curry and Durant poured in 46 of those 74 points — the most they’ve combined for since teaming up last summer — during the club’s furious second half. Curry ignited the run in the third quarter, draining four triples and hitting the Spurs for 19 points during the stanza.
Durant took over the fourth quarter, which the Warriors entered trailing 90-81, tallying the final 12 of his 34 points.
“That’s the pretty sweet thing about our team,” Durant said. “We can move the ball and get everybody involved, and when that stalls out, we’ve got guys that can score off the dribble and create off the dribble, so I just tried to finish and get shots and make them. It’s simple.”
Throughout much of Game 1, Durant’s best shot entailed going hard to the rim. The small forward, who finished 2-for-8 from distance, didn’t connect on his first triple until there was 7:52 left in the fourth, draining a 25-footer to bring the Warriors within six at 94-88.
Acting head coach Mike Brown praised Durant for reading the floor and attacking the basket, rather than settling for jumpers.
“We need that from him,” Brown said. “He’s the one guy that we really feel helps us get to the bonus early. It was evident with him having 12 free throws. So, the more aggressive he is, the better we are.”
Durant and Curry’s epic afternoon marked the third time the pair have both gone for 30-plus points in the same contest and upped their record to 3-0 in such games.
“Our identity is predicated on the collective — ball movement, player movement, using everybody’s talents on the floor to create great shots,” Curry said. “But when you’re in situations where there isn’t any flow and you have to make plays, this is what we’re expected to do [and] we have confidence to do it ourselves.
“And you’ve got to be ready for those moments when they arrive, so you can’t shy away from it.”