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Durant, Warriors stay in New York to face Nets

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Kevin Durant and the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors visit the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
NEW YORK

Free agency was a fun subplot for Kevin Durant on Friday night, but when it came time for the Golden State Warriors to be rescued from an underwhelming three quarters, Durant was more than ready, putting on a fourth-quarter show at Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, about 1,300 miles away in New Orleans, the Brooklyn Nets were unable to close out their game in the fourth quarter.

After differing outcomes in the fourth quarter, the Warriors visit the Nets on Sunday night.

Durant was the center of attention Friday against the New York Knicks. It started with an advertisement on a nearby building imploring him to sign with the Knicks next summer and loud applause from fans during pregame introductions.

Then Durant went to work, scoring 25 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter, turning what was a three-point deficit through three quarters into a 128-100 win over the Knicks.

"We've been through a lot more chaos and noise around our team. It's par for the course," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. "How he's handled it, letting his play speak for itself and not getting too wrapped up or involved in it. We have seven more months of this, so we know how to keep distractions out of our locker room and control what we can control."

What the Warriors would like to control better is playing a better game from start to finish, similar to Wednesday's 144-122 win over Washington when Curry scored 51 points in three quarters.

Instead, the Warriors showed the talent disparity, closing the game with an absurd 42-9 run by making 17 of their last 21 shots.

"I feel like you catch every green light when you're trying to get somewhere. Exactly what it feels like," Durant said. "I only took two shots in the third, I wasn't aggressive enough. I wanted to come out there, impose my will, score the ball. I felt like we needed it. I felt like we needed a scoring punch, so I tried to be aggressive."

In the last two games, Durant has 71 points while shooting 71.4 percent (30 of 42). Curry has 80 points on 59.5 percent shooting from the floor (25-of-42).

"They have a pretty good feel for how to play off each other," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Saturday's practice. "The thing that makes them pretty unique is they're each big-time superstars, and yet each is perfectly willing to sit back and let the other do his thing."

The Nets are hoping to do their best to contain the Warriors, especially after a major collapse in the final two minutes of Friday's 117-115 loss at New Orleans.

They'll try to prevent things like Curry hitting at least five 3-pointers for a seventh straight game to start the season, which would extend his NBA record. Curry is shooting 52.7 percent (39 of 74) from 3-point range, and if he gets at least five Sunday, he will break the record he shares with George McCloud (1995) for the most consecutive games with at least five 3-pointers.

So far, Brooklyn has alternated wins and losses. It fell to 2-3 when it allowed the final nine points in a span of 1:49 and Jrue Holliday's game-winning jumper with two seconds left.

"It's a shame because we played a heck of a game, and we didn't close it out when we had opportunities," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We had a lot of young mistakes out there, but we've just got to learn from it."

D'Angelo Russell led the Nets with 24 points but committed a turnover by stepping out of bounds with 7.5 seconds left.

"It was all my fault," Russell said. "We've got to be better, honestly. We focused 47 minutes and 36 seconds, and that other 20-some-odd seconds we wasn't focused. I wasn't focused. So that's where that mistake happened."

The late mistakes wasted a fifth straight game with at least 20 assists and made 47.5 percent from 3-point range (19-of-40).

The Warriors are playing the Knicks and the Nets on the same trip for the first time since Feb. 11-12, 1982. They already own nine straight wins at Madison Square Garden and take a six-game winning streak over the Nets into Sunday.

Last season in Brooklyn, the Warriors nearly coughed up a 28-point lead before escaping with a 118-111 win on Nov. 19. On March 6 at home, the Warriors opened with a 35-19 first quarter and posted a 114-101 win.

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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Durant, Warriors stay in New York to face Nets
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