OAKLAND – The ball and bodies were in constant motion, with purpose. Shots were falling, beautifully. Defense was relentless. The Warriors were looking like the team we’ve come to know so well over the past two-plus seasons.
Yet nobody looked fresher and friskier than the newest star. Kevin Durant’s 28th game as a Warrior was textbook in most every way but one.
He committed a team-worst five turnovers.
“Stupid passes,” Durant said.
That was pretty much the beginning and end of his sins – as well as those of the Warriors – in a 135-90 drubbing of the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena that was the largest margin of victory in any game this season.
With Draymond Green in charge of the defense and all things blue-collar, Durant fairly sailed through this game, carrying the rest of his teammates along for the ride. He grabbed 11 rebounds, more than anyone besides Green. He had four assists; only Green (13) and Stephen Curry (six) had more. He had two steals.
Durant’s sweetest trick, though, was the magic of turning 13 shots into 34 points.
Curry described Durant’s game as one in which he “just takes it to another level” in finding ways to score.
“It was definitely fun to see, especially in the first half, him getting to the basket and finishing with a couple dunks,” Curry said. “It got the crowd into it. It’s always fun to see him going and clicking with an extremely efficient night like tonight.”
Durant’s spinning of oxygen into gold was a welcome sight to both he and coach Steve Kerr. Durant was fantastic through the first 20 games, shooting about 58 percent, before hitting a slump that “dropped” him to 53 percent.
This was the 11th time this season Durant shot at least 60 percent, but the first time in two weeks.
“He just relaxed and played,” Kerr said. “I think he was a little frustrated the last four or five games. He wasn’t shooting well. He’s so hard on himself. He wants to be ultra-efficient every single night and he basically was for the first 20-plus games of the year and then he had a few bad ones. I thought he was getting down on himself.
“It looked like tonight he just relaxed and went out there and had a great, fun night.”
Oh, it was a fun night for everyone on the Warriors sideline. They were three days removed from the most grueling road trip of the year, and one of those days was a relatively unsatisfying win over the shorthanded Knicks. The other two days were spent trying to catch their breath and reenergize their legs.
Consider both goals achieved, as the Warriors looked as if they were catapulted into the game.
“We kind of reset (Friday) and at shootaround (Saturday) morning, went over some things, simplified some things and were able to come out here and put together a great performance,” Durant said.
Curry scored 13 of his 19 points in the first quarter, pushing the Warriors out to a double-digit lead they never came close to losing. Durant also scored 13 in the opening quarter, but added 8 in the second and 13 more in the third before all five starters sat and watched the fourth.
“We talked about it yesterday in our meeting and understood we were coming off that crazy schedule of a road trip,” Curry said. “There was a point in the Knicks game where guys were kind of looking at each other just trying to manage or manufacture any kind of energy we could.
“So it was a real point of emphasis to come out with a little pep in our step tonight to start off the game strong on the defensive end and to build on that excitement throughout the game and we were able to do that.”
The Warriors (24-4) shot 58.6 percent, recorded 36 assists and posted a 56-31 rebounding advantage while holding the Blazers (13-16) to 39.5-percent shooting.
“There are peaks and valleys throughout the whole season,” Durant said. “And we hit a rough patch . . . since the (Dec. 7) Clippers game. We were in a tough spot. We happened to win (four of) those (five) games. But we weren’t playing well at all.”
They excelled on this night. And the schedule for the upcoming four weeks is not particularly demanding. The timing might be right to make a run.
As if winning eight of their last nine is something less.