LOS ANGELES — Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant dominated Thursday’s 132-105 Game 3 win over the LA Clippers, scoring 38 points, dishing out 7 assists and grabbing 4 rebounds in just 29 minutes.
The game came easy for Durant, who came into the contest confident that he could take over when needed. After a verbal back-and-forth with Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, which resulted in a Game 1 ejection for both players after being issued a double technical, Durant chafed at the notion that Beverley and the Clippers were getting into his head following the Warriors’ 31-point second-half meltdown in Game 2.
“I’m not gonna get in the way of the game because I wanna have a little back-and-forth with Patrick Beverley,” Durant said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am.”
Durant let his game do all the talking Thursday as he repeatedly drove by Clippers defenders while knocking down shots from all over the floor. Durant finished 14-for-23 from the field, which is notable because Warriors coach Steve Kerr was hopeful that Durant would be more aggressive after taking just eight shots in the Game 2 loss.
“He was aggressive from the start, at both ends,” Kerr said. “He attacked. He said it [Wednesday], he’s Kevin Durant. And so he showed everybody who Kevin Durant is.”
Durant’s domination opened up the floor for the rest of his teammates as they fed off the ease with which he was controlling the game. After it was over, Durant downplayed both the interplay with Beverley and his initial comments regarding his basketball identity.
“I think a lot of people who watch the game, who analyze the game, thought that I should be engaging in a one-on-one physical battle,” Durant said. “Whatever that is with other people, with Patrick Beverley, and I don’t do that type of stuff. I just play. That’s what I was trying to let people know.”
None of Durant’s teammates seemed surprised that he was able to impose his will on the Clippers. Within the Warriors’ locker room, there was a feeling of satisfaction that the group knew it was the better team and was intent on not allowing another slip-up like it had in Game 2. Durant’s play only reinforced the confidence.
“He came out super-aggressive and in kill mode,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “And that was all the difference for us. And we took control of the game right there in the first quarter and never lost control of it.”
Even Beverley had to tip his hat to Durant.
“He came out really aggressive, posted me up more,” Beverley said. “Kinda knew that coming in that he was gonna come in really aggressive. Made a couple early; and from that point, like any basketball player, he made a couple early, the basket gets bigger. I have to do a better job fighting for position. But give him a lot of credit; he made shots.”
Interestingly, Durant noted that the difference for him early was that he felt Kerr started calling more plays for him. Durant later chafed at the notion that he had been passing up shots later in the season and was serving as more of a distributor.
“I think Coach Kerr came up with some plays for me at the start of the game,” Durant said. “I think doing that kind of set the tone. Just putting pressure on the defense through post-ups, through dribble handoffs. I think that was something we talked about this morning, just consciously with the way they play, just coming off a lot of Andrew Bogut screens, sitting in the post. If they double, guys are moving. We were just more patient tonight, to sum it up.”
The only blemish for Durant came with 8 minutes, 39 seconds in the third quarter, when he was whistled for another double-technical foul along with Clippers forward JaMychal Green. Both players appeared surprised, since they were just exchanging a few words. Durant now has three technicals in the postseason. Four more will result in an automatic one-game suspension.
Durant said he is hoping the technical gets rescinded.
“Me and JaMychal Green, we were conversing about the play that happened before, just like you and I,” Durant said. “Somebody came out of nowhere and tech’d us both. How would you feel? That was pretty quick. Hopefully they rescind that one because I don’t want somebody to think somebody is in my head, that’s why I got that tech. I just want to get that out of the way because I don’t want to jeopardize my team in the future.”
With his first basket of the game, Durant passed Magic Johnson to move into 14th place on the league’s all-time postseason scoring list. Durant, who now has 3,738 postseason points, is just 17 points behind Hakeem Olajuwon for 13th on the list. Durant’s 38 points also tie a league record for most points in a playoff game when playing 30 minutes or less, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Durant joins San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge as the only two players to accomplish that feat.
“He’s a two-time Finals MVP and coming off a poor performance,” Kerr said. “That’s what happens.”
With the win, the Warriors lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.