Durant laments Game 4 finish, but looks ahead
OAKLAND, Calif. – Kevin Durant said “I wish I had that last play back,” referring to the Golden State Warriors‘ final transition possession with under 12 seconds remaining in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday.
The Houston Rockets were up two when Draymond Green pulled down a defensive board to initiate the break. He passed it to Durant who dribbled the ball up the court and instead of taking a shot, he found a cutting Klay Thompson along the baseline.
Trevor Ariza closed hard on Thompson, forcing him to put the ball on the floor before firing up an ill-advised turnaround air ball. Durant was seen demanding a kick out and with five seconds on the clock, Green was calling for a timeout that went unnoticed by the officials.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr stuck by his decision not to call a timeout as soon as his team secured possession.
“Well, I wanted the timeout,” Kerr admitted. “Draymond was trying to call one around four seconds, once he got trapped. And at that point the officials weren’t looking and they’re not going to look down at our bench. So I saw Draymond trying to call it and I was hoping they’d give it to us, but we didn’t get it. But I’m always a proponent of pushing the ball off of a miss rather than taking a timeout, letting the defense get set up. So, I thought we’d get a better shot in transition. That’s why I let them play.”
Golden State went into the fourth with a 10-point lead, but managed to only score 12 points in the frame and Houston put up 25 that resulted in a 95-92 loss. Houston evened the series at two games apiece.
“I think we just stop trusting our defense at certain points in the game,” Green said. “We’ve got to trust our defense, trust the game plan and stick with it.”
Durant gave a breakdown of what he was thinking on that crucial possession.
“I raced it down. I was trying to see if I had some options. I saw Klay running along the baseline and maybe should have waited until he set his feet, but I just threw a bounce pass and tried to relocate for it,” he explained. “But, man, that’s not the reason we lost the game. I wish it could have been a better possession at the end, but, you know, we’ve got to live with that and move on and be better next game.”
Stephen Curry (39), Thompson, (39), Durant (43) and Green (45) all played 39 minutes or more. Andre Iguodala was sidelined with a left knee contusion. The Warriors outscored the Rockets 34-17 in the third, but due to an even further shortened rotation without Iguodala, Kerr said fatigue played a factor down the stretch.
“It’s the Western Conference finals,” Green said. “When you’re battling getting to The Finals, no one is worried about fatigue. We’re just trying to do what you got to do to win the game.”
Thompson suffered a knee contusion in the second quarter after he banged it on the hardwood. He departed to the locker room for treatment and then reentered the game soon after. Team officials say his injury is of no concern moving forward.
“It’s sore, but it’s early,” Thompson said. “I’m anticipating feeling much better tomorrow.”
The Warriors dropped a golden opportunity to end the series in Houston on Thursday. The locker room was surprisingly in good spirits following the contest. Durant told ESPN they “just have to get another one” on the road.
As a team, they expressed disappointment in not sustaining a high level of play rather than focusing on one possession. Durant said that’s what they need to fix going into Game 5.
“It’s the whole game that we’ve got to get better at, especially in the fourth,” he said. “I think going up 10 going into the fourth, it was a good opportunity for us to kind of take control, and we didn’t. So I definitely wish I had that last play back. So I’m going to watch film and see what my options were and just hopefully if I’m in that position again I’ll be better.”
Green added: “We know we made a lot of mistakes down the stretch in that fourth quarter. So, we’ll be fine.”