Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant scored 50 points in a dominating 129-110 series-clinching win over the LA Clippers on Friday night in Game 6 of their Western Conference first-round playoff.
“It was one of the great performances I’ve ever seen in my life,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant. “I’ve seen some good ones, been around some decent players. He just carried us these last couple games of the series. He’s the ultimate weapon because there’s no defense for Kevin. No matter what anybody does, he can get a good shot. And he knew we needed him badly, and he just took over the game in the first half and set a great tone.”
Durant’s performance put him in rarefied air within NBA history. With his 38 first-half points, Durant tied Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley for second-most points in a half. Barkley scored 38 in the first half of a 1994 playoff game. The pair trails only former Warriors guard Sleepy Floyd, who scored 39 points in the second half of a 1987 playoff game against the Suns. Durant reached 31 points with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half, the fastest any player has reached that mark in terms of game clock over the past 20 postseasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“We tried everything,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said. “We had several different coverages for KD.”
“It didn’t work,” Clippers guard Patrick Beverley said.
Durant, who scored 45 points in Game 5, became just the fourth player in the past 30 postseasons to score 45 points or more in consecutive games. The only other players to do so are Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook(2018), Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant (2001) and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, who scored at least 45 in three straight games in 1990.
“Like sometimes — sometimes you come across special people and it doesn’t matter what you send to them,” Williams said. “There’s no scheme. There’s no nothing that you can do with special people. He’s one of them. And he showed it tonight. He put them guys on his shoulders.”
Durant finished the game shooting 15-for-26 from the field, 6-for-14 from beyond the 3-point line and 14-for-15 from the free throw line, but also chipped in with six rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal. He shot the ball with ease from all over the floor.
“The great thing about KD is you can give him the ball anywhere and he can make plays,” Warriors forward Draymond Green told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt after the game. “Whether it’s in the backcourt, top of the key, wing, block, wherever you give him the ball at, he’s a threat on the floor. So we just try to keep giving him the ball in spots where he likes it. You know, make sure we keep our spacing so it’s harder for them to double team.”
Durant scored or assisted on 45 of the Warriors’ 72 points in the first half. He was very active on the defensive end throughout the game, helping the Warriors gain an edge that had been missing throughout much of Game 5. After it was over, Durant was pleased with his performance but thought he could have scored even more.
“I scored 50 points, but I missed some good shots tonight,” Durant said. “I feel like I could’ve made a few more, but I felt great, I felt great. It was a fun game, for sure.”
Durant’s performance was even more important given that Warriors All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both suffered right ankle injuries Friday night. Both Curry and Thompson stayed in the game and contributed to the victory, but both players left Staples Center limping.
With the win, Durant and the Warriors advance to the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets — a rematch of last year’s conference finals. Game 1 is Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Both Curry and Thompson expect to play on Sunday.
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