There were a handful of riveting storylines heading into Game 6, however by halftime Friday night in Los Angeles, Kevin Durant had rendered the majority of the other narratives inferior.
Durant scored 38 first-half indicates give the Warriors a 72-53 lead, tying Charles Barkley for the best first half in NBA playoff history.
The Warriors’ forward went 12-for-17 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, including a couple that tied the record in the half’s final seconds. His performance trailed just Sleepy Floyd’s 39-point second half against the Lakers in postseason lore.
Durant’s dynamic 22 minutes made secondary stories out of the Warriors’ new beginning lineup, defensive troubles and affinity to look forward toward the second-round matchup against the Houston Rockets.
Coming off a Game 5 loss at home, head coach Steve Kerr supplanted Andrew Bogut in the beginning lineup for Shaun Livingston to coordinate with the Clippers’ small-ball lineup. The lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Livingston, Durant and Draymond Green, which played just nine minutes together all season, logged the initial six minutes of Game 6 and trailed by four points.
Beginning Livingston allowed Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney to stay in the job of matching with the Clippers’ pick-and-move couple of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell off the seat. That is the place the game turned.
Well, that, and when Durant declared his dominance.
The remainder of the Warriors joined for 34 points on 15-of-34 shooting from the floor and 1-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Curry and Green, who each had 12, were the main different Warriors in double-digit scoring. Green included 10 bounce back and six assists a gamesubsequent to boring the team’s defensive woes and lack of energy.
“That falls on me,” he said. “If I bring the intensity from the start, everybody else usually falls in line on that side of the ball. That’s my fault. I’ve got to be better.”