© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND – What did you expect? The Knicks are very bad. The Warriors are very good. This is the result you expect from those types of teams facing each other. The only thing slightly unexpected is just how according-to-plan it went. The Warriors tortured the Knicks for a 122-95 win that marked the conclusion of the first half of the season, and leaves the Warriors (27-14) still primed to secure one of the top spots (likely the first seed) in the Western Conference.
Here are three notes from tonight’s game:
What Klay struggles?
Remember how Klay Thompson had a horrific start to this season (excluding that 14-3-pointer game) and (some) people were freaking out? Well, there’s no need to free out any longer. Klay is back.
While his numbers are down on the year as a whole, you can always tell when Klay is feeling himself. And when he is, there’s not a single thing you can do to defend it. That was the case tonight. Thompson went off for 43 points (18-of-29, 7-of-16 from 3-pt) in 34 minutes.
43 for Klay Thompson pic.twitter.com/kVDzXgJGER
— KNBR (@KNBR) January 9, 2019
Over his last five games, Thompson is 54-of-98 (55 percent) from the field, 20-of-39 (51.3 percent) from 3-point range and is averaging 27.2 points per game. While Thompson is often all the way on or all the way off, he at least looks to have found his rhythm as the Warriors embark on their second half campaign.
The Kevin-th degree
Once upon a time, Kevin Durant was a 19-year-old rookie for the Seattle Supersonics (R.I.P.). Durant entered the league with massive expectations, but he also entered on a team that was unabashedly terrible. In his first season, they finished 20-62 and Durant averaged 20 points per game. It wasn’t much better in his second year, after the Thunder drafted Russell Westbrook. But in his third season, with a young Westbrook and an even younger James Harden, the Thunder reached the playoffs and Durant made his first All-Star game.
Before today’s game, Durant gave plaudits to another 19-year-old rookie named Kevin; the Knicks’ Kevin Knox, who albeit with much lower expectations, still has to play on an abysmal team in the toughest media market in the country. Knox will never come close to being Durant, but he does have massive potential and as an already 6’9″ small forward who’s still growing, his length and age mean he has at least some tangible similarities to Durant.
Here’s what Durant said about the Knicks’ rookie, who he matched up against tonight:
Kevin Durant on Kevin Knox: "He’s playing some big minutes. Really starting to get a feel for the game. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) January 8, 2019
Durant finished with 24 points (7-of-14, 2-of-7 from 3-pt), 6 assists and 6 rebounds while Knox had just 12 points (4-of-11, 0-of-4 from 3-pt), 2 rebounds. Despite the blowout loss, and all-around terrible season, the Knicks are still projected to finish with more wins (about 27) than Durant’s rookie-year Supersonics. The Knicks were also without two young players (Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson – both ankle sprains) and their superstar in Kristaps Porzingis, leaving plenty of room for optimism for a rarely optimistic fanbase.
“Back once again”
Andre Iguodala never left, but the days of him as a high-flying, rim-attacking swingman are gone. When Iguodala was with the Philadelphia 76ers, he was one of the most dynamic athletic forces in the league and was probably the only player who had the capacity to dunk the ball as hard as LeBron James. But as the years have gone by and Iguodala may or may not have lost a step, those moments have become few and far between.
So, when those moments of vintage Iguodala emerge, it’s all the more important to relish them. As New York Native A$AP Rocky rapped on “Suddenly,” vintage Iguodala was “Back once again” in this first quarter dunk:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 9, 2019
Oh, this also happened later:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 9, 2019