Durant and the Joy of Hoops, ‘you Get So High Playing the Game'

OAKLAND -- Kevin Durant spent a full two weeks watching his teammates, without him, lose more games than they won. It hurt, but not as much as laughing or reaching too high or bending too low.

Durant was coping with a rib cartilage injury, so basketball was out of the question.

He's healed now. And in the hours before his return Thursday night, when the Warriors face the Milwaukee Bucks at Oracle Arena, the 6-foot-11 forward barely could contain his joy over getting past his down time.

"When you're playing, you get so high playing the game," he said Thursday morning after shootaround. "You get the adrenaline rush of just playing. You take that out . . . I wouldn't say you're bored. You just want that high. You're yearning to grab it again. It was fun. I wouldn't call that bored.

"Something was missing."

Durant sustained the injury when he took an elbow from Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns on March 11 in Minnesota. Durant played through the pain in the next game, March 14 against the Lakers, but took another blow, which led to X-rays and an MRI test and a seat on the sideline.

That's where Durant joined Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and, eventually, Draymond Green. The Warriors were 2-4 in Durant's absence. Green, who also returns Thursday, played three of the six games, Curry one and Thompson none.

Durant has been working out strenuously for a few days and wanted to play Tuesday night against the Pacers, but coach Steve Kerr decided against it.

"I trust him; I trust they've got my best interests," Durant said. "I was still here working out and able to go through my routine the day of the game. I just didn't play. I trust the training staff and coach they want what's best for me."

With Curry and Thompson still out, the Warriors will lean on Durant's gifts at both ends. He leads the team in scoring (26.6 points per game) and blocks (1.9).

Moreover, Durant's production seemed to lift his teammates when Curry missed 11 games last December. He averaged 27.0 points per game -- topping the 30-point mark five times, more often than any other month this season -- 7.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the month.

With Curry out for at least another three weeks, the Warriors would gladly accept an encore.

Durant simply wants to get back to the place he loves and take it from there.

"Looking forward to being out there," he Durant said. "It's been a couple of weeks so I just want to get back to my happy place and just play ball."

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