NEW YORK — The Warriors followed a familiar script on Monday night against the Knicks: Survive the first half, content playing down to their subpar competition, just to dominate after the break in order to take it easy for the fourth quarter.
Golden State outscored New York, 38-19, in the third. And that was basically all the Dubs needed to set up a 125-111 victory.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Warriors have won the third by 20 or more five times during road games this season. The rest of the teams in the league, combined, have done that four times.
The Knicks never really stood a chance. Their season effectively ended on Feb. 6, when Kristaps Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee. That was a bummer for Kevin Durant, who presumably would’ve preferred some competition for his team’s visit to Madison Square Garden.
“It’s disappointing he got injured,” Durant said Sunday. “He had a great season up to that point and was an All-Star. He’d been playing great.”
With Porzingis out, the Knicks were forced into full-tank mode and what resulted was a veteran team needing just flashes in the third quarter to beat down its outmatched competition.
Golden State wasn’t particularly upset with its play in the first half. New York just made shots.
“I don’t think it was a lack of focus,” Draymond Green explained. “We weren’t aggressive enough on the defensive end of the ball. The conversation [at halftime] was that we have to make them miss. Once we started doing that and flying around, they started to miss.”
The Knicks shot 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) in the third quarter. The other three, they were 38-for-71 (53.5 percent). It pays to try when it matters and these Warriors have mastered the art of putting in the precise amount of effort to get the job done.
“Obviously we have a lot of talent,” Steve Kerr said. “We have four All Stars out there. It’s not like we are making big adjustments.”
The key details:
— Klay Thompson scored 26 points on 13 shots. Stephen Curry played 30 minutes for 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Kevin Durant added 22.
— Jordan Bell made his return after missing every game since Jan. 14. He played 13 minutes as he looks to work his way back into the rotation in time for the playoffs.
— Zaza Pachulia was consistently booed because NBA fans are in the throes of their annual “Is he a dirty player or the dirtiest player” argument.
Here are the moments everyone will be talking about today:
Kevin Durant and Enes Kanter go way back. They were once teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then Kanter trash talked him during his first game against his former team last season. Now, Durant relishes his opportunities to embarrass Kanter.
On four-straight possessions, Kanter ended up guarding Durant. KD scored on two of them, including this sweet crossover that put his former ‘mate on his heels.
Kanter thought he was ready for the Kevin Durant moves pic.twitter.com/b60pfjoCCb
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 27, 2018
JaVale McGee was once again in the starting lineup on Monday. He made five of his six shot attempts, but none was more impressive than an uncharacteristic turnaround jumper.
The only problem: It might have ruined Jon Stewart’s night.
Jon Stewart couldn’t believe JaVale hit a fadeaway jumper 😂 pic.twitter.com/61MMa0oqPa
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 27, 2018
The Knicks should’ve known the third quarter was going to be a problem when Draymond Green ended the first possession of the frame with a buzzer-beating bank shot.
One of these things is not like the others 😂 pic.twitter.com/iKupfB74Rc
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) February 27, 2018
He explained the play with a typical dose of Draymond humor: It wasn’t luck, it was the world paying him back for his good deeds.
“It sparked the run, didn’t it? Got everybody going, my amazing shooting. That was good.
“I think that was just karma because I did the Steph and I took the halfcourt heave [before halftime]. You know, most people won’t take that shot because of their percentages. … I think I just had good karma, man.”
In the decisive third quarter, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson found themselves in a playing a two-man game against the Knicks defense. They didn’t need anyone else, really.
Klay Thompson again! pic.twitter.com/ij54tqLlm9
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 27, 2018
And that about sums up the Warriors’ 47th victory of the season.