Subplots – they’re the best thing ever, even when they have long ago passed their sell-by dates.
So let us give you the next one: On January 18, when the Oklahoma City Westbrooks next meet the Golden State Durants, the Real Westbrook will be more motivated to show his alleged displeasure of the Real Durant for so callously abandoning him.
Or something like that. I mean, if you need subplots, you may as well take the one you like best and beat it dead.
Which coincidentally, is sort of the way Kevin Durant beat his old team Thursday night.
You may argue the turning point that ignited the mythical Durant at your leisure. Maybe it was Steve Kerr needing to be restrained by assistant coach Mike Brown after he nearly got thrown out of each of the next four games for chasing official Brent Barnaky for missing a foul on Stephen Curry 3:26 into the game. Maybe it was newest Thunder player Jerami Grant visually backsassing Durant after a thunderous early dunk five and a half minutes later. Or maybe it was just Durant’s DNA-level need to destroy all traces of the team for which he used to play -- which of course he persistently denies.
Whatever the motivational crutch you use to prop up your favorite theory, Durant’s incandescent 39-point game (tying the NBA record for most points by a player in his first game against his former team) served as a clean break for everyone clinging to the narrative of his good old days in Oklahoma City.
Plus Klay Thompson went 4-for-8 from three, giving more treys in this game than in the first four combined, apparently curing him of his early season yips.
Plus Zaza Pachulia (eight points, five assists, 10 rebounds in 22 minutes) wasn’t bodied out of the arena by the burlier and more active Stephen Adams, and was singled out by Kerr as having played “a fabulous game.”
Plus Andre Iguodala managed to score three points and still finished plus-34.
Plus the Warrior defense overcame a rocky start and doubled down on its new defensive emphasis by holding the Thunder to 41 percent shooting, 22 points in the paint and 15 second-chance points after the first quarter.
You name it, they did it to the near zenith of their capabilities, and they did it to the Durant-Westbrook story line -- hopefully for good, as that vein of narrative ore seems mercifully to have been mined out.
At least good people can hope for such an outcome. One never overlooks the power of an editor or producer with a single idea in his or her head.
Some people, though, are suckers for subplots, and Draymond Green (nine points, five assists 10 rebounds in 29 minutes) did break off the first play by pointedly getting the ball to Durant on the game’s first possession even though the play was called for Curry. “I didn’t want to call plays for him right away,” Kerr said of Durant, “but Draymond decided to get it to KD right away.”
Results? He nailed a 28-footer to start his night, and make it the centerpiece of a second consecutive excellent Warrior performance.
Durant, for his part, saw nothing unusual in the chattiness of the game, calling it “normal on-the-court trashtalking, part of the game.” And he kept saying he had no unusual feelings of potential closure in this game, saying, “I’ve already really moved on, but people keep trying to drag me back.” Indeed, the only bite to his postgame remarks (as opposed to his ravenous devouring of the game itself) was when he noted that former teammate Enes Kanter talked a lot more than his minutes played (three) would warrant, and later when he mock-chastised the Santa Rosa Press Democrat troublemaker Phil Barber by challenging him to define “a lackluster win.”
And no, the name Westbrook was never emitted, as his 20 points and 10 assists faded in the glare of his 4-for-15 shooting.
In other words, everything about the buildup for this epochal Game 5 fizzled, and fizzled in the heat of a 37-11 second quarter for Golden State, 16 of which came from Durant himself. The game’s competitive aspects died then and there, but the reverberations make their opening-night rout at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs a distant and largely irrelevant memory, as it should be.
And with that, a sturdy subplot that had cheated the churn of the normal sports news cycle by living for nearly four full months dies a noble death. Right?
“That’s not gonna happen” Kerr said. “Subplots like this are never really going away. You guys will make sure of that.”
Yep. “We guys” never learn. It’s what so right about us.