Durant’s 50 lead Warriors past Clippers for showdown with Rockets

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LOS ANGELES – In a game the Warriors and most NBA observers didn’t expect to take place when the series started, the champs beat the Clippers 129-110 in Game 6 of the Western Conference first-round series, eliminating Los Angeles.

The game, like the series, was not an easy affair for the champs. After building a 72-53 halftime lead thanks to 38 first-half points from Kevin Durant, the Clippers stormed back in the third quarter, cutting Golden State’s advantage to 14 before the Warriors put the game out of reach. Durant would go on to finish with a career playoff-high 50 points. 

For the last 13 days, the Clippers provided a crash course on how to get the Warriors attention. They withstood every one of the champs’ blows and showed the NBA world that they could be a force going forward. 

For now, the Warriors will rest up for a day and get ready for the Houston Rockets, who already waiting in the Bay Area. 

Here are the takeaways from Game 6. 

Easy Money Closer

With Stephen Curry struggling in the first half, Durant dominated, scoring 38 of his game-high 50 points, showing off his entire repertoire of fadeaways, dunks and 3-pointers. 

The most significant part of the performance was the ease in which Durant got his points. Each shot was taken as if he were wide open. 

When asked by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke if the former MVP felt like he could score at will. Durant responded with a simple, stoic “Yeah.” 

Going forward, Golden State hopes Durant can stay in this zone for the foreseeable future. 

Draymond does it all

While Durant scored at will, Green filled out any remaining gap in Golden State’s gameplan, finishing with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. In first half, he accumulated 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, willing the Warriors out of an early five-point deficit. 

Throughout his career with the Warriors, Green has prided himself in closeout games. Despite being perhaps his team’s fourth best player, Green has the unique position as Golden State’s heartbeat and emotional pulse.

The Warriors engagement level owes its origin to Green and if they’re going to win a third straight title, performances like Friday’s will need to be a common occurrence.  

Lineup change

Minutes before tip-off, Steve Kerr elected to start Shaun Livingston in place of Andrew Bogut, putting Draymond Green at the five, much to the delight of Clippers front office man Jerry West.

[RELATED: Warriors-Rockets series schedule]

The decision didn’t yield quality results as the Warriors found themselves down five points midway through the first quarter, while Livingston finished the quarter minus-4. 

Luckily for Kerr and the Warriors, the decision wasn’t bad enough for the Warriors.

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