CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—Kevin Durant doesn’t often run the Warriors’ offense—certainly not with Stephen Curry on the floor.
So, when he got the opportunity on Wednesday night, he relished it.
Durant had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Golden State beat the Charlotte Hornets, 101-87, without Curry and Draymond Green.
It was Durant’s first triple-double of the season and his second since joining the Warriors.
“It’s fun when you get to create and just be creative out there, whether it’s passing to JaVale [McGee] for a lob or shooting a pull-up jump shot,” Durant said. “Tonight, it felt like I could go in my bag of tools, my bag of tricks, to pull some stuff out. I don’t expect it to be like that every single game, but tonight I thought it called for it.”
Coach Steve Kerr called it a luxury to turn from one Most Valuable Player (MVP) to another in a time of need.
He said Durant simply took over.
“It wasn’t so much a vocal leadership role, but more of an ‘I got this’ type of thing,” Kerr said. “It was the way he carried himself. He was clearly the best player on the floor and the dominant player on the floor. Without Steph, he almost had a different bounce to his step, like ‘This one is mine, I got it.’”
Klay Thompson scored seven of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for the Warriors, who have won five straight overall and seven in a row against the Hornets.
Curry will be sidelined for about two weeks with a sprained ankle, while Green is nursing a sore shoulder.
It hardly mattered.
Durant set the tone, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter to help the Warriors build a 26-18 lead. The edge increased to 26 in the second quarter following back-to-back three-pointers by Nick Young, who had 10 points.
“Even without those other guys, they’re still pretty good,” said Hornets Associate Head Coach Stephen Silas, who is leading the team, while Steve Clifford is dealing with a health issue. “Obviously, with Kevin Durant and Klay, it was hard to stop those guys tonight.”
Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 24 points, while Nic Batum added 15 and Dwight Howard 14.
Charlotte cut the lead to 11 at the end of the third quarter behind 10 points from Batum but didn’t make a serious run at the lead thanks to a strong fourth quarter from Thompson.
LeBron James, meanwhile, drained a three-pointer with 15 seconds left and finished with 32 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers tied a franchise record with their 13th straight win, 101-95 over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
James, who changed his sneakers three times, also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, helping the Cavs rally from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to remain unbeaten since November 11. His decisive three-pointer in the final minute was in the face of JaKarr Sampson, who had jawed with James earlier.
Cleveland also won 13 straight in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. The Cavs will try for the team record on Friday at Indiana.
This one wasn’t easy. The Kings gave the Cavs everything they had, but couldn’t contain James in the clutch.
Zach Randolph had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Buddy Hield added 17 points for the Kings. Sampson grabbed 16 rebounds in his first start this season.