By Rob Johnson
Special to S.F. Examiner
NEW YORK — Kevin Durant, who can opt out of his one-and-one max contract with the Golden State Warriors after this season, had been actively courted by New York Knicks fans since arriving in New York start a three-city road trip.
On a building outside Madison Square Garden, a banner hung, depicting Durant and Kristaps Porzingis in matching blue and orange jerseys. He was lustily cheered by Knicks fans.
Then, with the Warriors trailing New York 81-84 after the third-quarter, Durant decided to take control. After being shut out in the third, the two-time NBA Finals MVP scored 25 of his game-high 41 points in the final stanza, dragging Golden State to a 128-100 comeback win.
“I just made shots tonight in the fourth. I like the way it left my hand, it was a fun night,” Durant said.
At the 8:15 mark, Durant polished off a nifty-footwork drive with a bucket, tying the game at 93-93. Golden State then went on a 35-9 run to close things out.
“He’s 6-11… you’re not supposed to do that at 6-11,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “Forty-one,, 25 points in the fourth, some of those shots were crazy, he was just spectacular.”
Durant went 10-for-13 in the fourth quarter, hitting 3-of-6 from 3-point range.
“I only took two shots in the third. I wasn’t aggressive enough,” Durant said. “I felt like we needed a punch scoring the basketball, so I tried to be aggressive … It felt like you feel when you catch a green-light when you’re trying to get somewhere.”
Durant was scoring so easily, he had to give himself a heat-check, and hit a three-pointer off one-foot.
“I was going to tackle him if he made that,” said Knicks head coach David Fizdale. “He’s special, I don’t have to describe it for you. There’s only one guy, maybe in the whole world that does that at that level. The shots that he makes, the places he can get, it’s special.”
Stephen Curry followed up his Wednesday’s 51-point performance with 29 points, and Draymond Green chipped in with a season-high 18 points.
“We’ve seen Klay (Thompson) do it. I’ve gotten hot a few times. We’ve seen KD do it like he did tonight,” Green said. “To do it in the Garden is a different buzz. Low-key we become fans on the court watching greatness.”
With Curry’s big game against the Washington Wizards and Durant’s performance Friday night, it begs the question of when Thompson is going to get an electric performance this season. Thompson went 6-of-18 from the field, and 0-for-4 from three. On the season, Thompson — a career 45.7-percent shooter, with a career 42.0 3-point shooting percentage — is shooting 38.3 percent from the field this year, and just 12.9 percent from three.
“I felt like Klay got great shots tonight,” Durant said. “If we get those shots again, we feel confident that he’s going to knock those down. It’s only a matter of time.”
DeMarcus Cousins made his season debut in the box-score without even playing. Cousins got a technical foul and was ejected by official Scott Foster with 2:28 to go in the first quarter, while in street clothes on the bench.
“(Enes) Kanter and Cousins were warned prior to the ejection about talking to the bench, Cousins took exception to the ruling and during the timeout he was ejected for one technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct,” Foster said. “We just felt like one technical was suffice for a player not in the game.”
Kanter, who had a team-high 13 rebounds (13), and Durant, once former teammates, were chattering to one another throughout the game.
“He scored on me, looked at me, talked a little trash and moved on. That’s part of the game,”said Durant.