Kurtenbach: Durant Must Be "The Man"

Durant scored 38 points Sunday to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead in New Orleans

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
May 07, 2018 - 9:25 am

The Golden State Warriors beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 118-92, on Sunday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their second-round playoff series, and Kevin Durant was the main reason why. Durant scored a game-high 38 points to go with nine rebounds, five assists, one steal and a block.

The Warriors can close out the Pelicans in Game 5 on Tuesday.

“The Warriors needed Kevin Durant in Game 4, and they’re probably going to need him in game 5 to be the man and sort of take what’s his,” San Jose Mercury News columnist Dieter Kurtenbach said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He established that tone early on in Game 4. In the first 80 seconds, he just got to his spot and knocked down shots. He doesn’t always do that. He’s almost too giving to his teammates.”

Not Sunday. Only one other Warriors scored more than 13 points. That was Steph Curry, who scored 23 on 8-of-17 shooting.

“Steph Curry is the guy who makes the Warriors what the Warriors are, but Curry is not in game shape,” Kurtenbach said. “He missed 11 weeks. He had one game in between there, but he came off of one injury and went on to another. The Pelicans play an incredible pace, and the Warriors are happy to oblige them at that pace. But Steph Curry is not capable of giving the Warriors everything that he usually gives them, especially in this series. Kevin Durant had to decide that he was the dude.”

With Houston up 3-1 on Utah, the Warriors and Rockets are on a collision course to meet in the Western Conference Finals. Houston went 2-1 against Golden State this season.

Kurtenbach, however, won’t take much from those games, the most recent of which was in January.

“Every one of those Rockets/Warriors games was missing something, so you just don’t get a full puzzle put together on that,” he said. “The Rockets have proven to be sort of the worthy adversaries to the Warriors – the best, I would argue – since the 2016 Thunder with Kevin Durant, a team that went up 3-1 on the Warriors. This is as good of a team. But no outcome would shock me whatsoever – at all – because we just haven’t seen these two teams at full force, engaged, trying to go up against each other. We just don’t know.”