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Steve Kerr on Kevin Durant’s ejection: ‘You can’t take the bait’

OAKLAND — The Warriors knew what to expect from Patrick Beverley Saturday night. They knew one of the NBA’s best, most pesky defenders would do everything he could to poke and prod the defending champs until they cracked in Game 1.

Yet Kevin Durant took the bait.

Beverley matched up with the four-time scoring champion from start to finish in Golden State’s 121-104 win over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers Saturday night. The banter between the two started early, as Beverley appeared to make fun of Durant for flopping in the first quarter. The two playfully went back and forth until they crossed the line, at least in the officials’ eyes, late in the fourth quarter.

With five minutes remaining, Durant leaked out and attempted a layup on a fast break. Beverley sprinted back and fouled Durant. The two chirped at each other and were assessed double-technicals.

Less than a minute later, Durant and Beverley got tied up out of bounds. Durant, staring at Beverley on the ground, smiled and clapped his hands. Beverley sprung up and got in Durant’s face. The two were promptly ejected.

After the game, Durant said he was trying to “bring some intensity to the arena, the game, my team.” The two were talking trash all night, and Durant felt the confrontation that got he and Beverley ejected simply continued that.

“I thought that was the perfect time for me to do so, but that resulted in a technical foul,” Durant said. “I am sure (referee) Ed (Malloy) was just trying to control the game tonight. We ain’t try to take it too far. I guess he thought it was taken too far. I just thought it was one of those plays where I could show a little bit more emotion than I normally show.”

Durant seemed to think the ejection was an overreaction, while Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was frustrated that the mouthy matchup between Durant and Beverley ever got to that point.

“For sure, we took the bait,” Kerr said postgame. “That’s two technicals (for Durant). You get seven technicals, your seventh one is a suspension in the playoffs, whether you play four playoff games or 24, seven is the magic number. So, he’s got four to play with after one game.

“That’s what Beverley does. We talked about it the last couple days. He’s a hell of a defender who plays hard. We have a lot of respect for him. But you can not take the bait because that’s a bad trade for us. The Clippers have made a lot of good trades this year, and that was maybe their best.”

Durant was assessed 15 technicals during the regular season. If a player tallies 16, he is suspended for the following game, however the technical count resets in the playoffs.

Durant, who finished with 23 points in 32 minutes Saturday, said he isn’t worried about the playoff technical count because he can control himself. Kerr wants to make sure the episode between Durant and Beverley Saturday night doesn’t repeat itself.

“You just can’t do it,” Kerr said. “Sometimes, you have to feel it before you follow through and execute on that. So, we are going to have to be really solid.”


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