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Durant explodes for 49 but deflects praise onto 'phenomenal' Thompson

Elsewhere on Monday night, Houston’s James Harden scored 54 points but ended up on the losing side against the Wizards.

Kevin Durant during the Warriors' win over the Magic.
Kevin Durant during the Warriors' win over the Magic.

KEVIN DURANT INSISTED he could still be “in a better groove” as he instead praised team-mate Klay Thompson for his role in the Golden State Warriors’ comeback 116-110 win over the Orlando Magic.

The Warriors trailed by 17 points at half-time, but 49 points from Durant – as well as nine assists and six rebounds – and 29 points from Thompson saw the NBA champions rally late on.

Durant scored 32 points against the Portland Trail Blazers and 44 against the Sacramento Kings last week as Golden State snapped a four-game losing run with a trio of victories, yet he is still not entirely happy with his form.

“I still missed 17 shots. I felt like I had some shots that I wished I could have made last game and this game,” Durant told a news conference after beating the Magic.

“But I just get back into the gym. I could be in a better groove, I feel. I’m just playing a lot of minutes with the ball in my hands, with the way the game is, and obviously, if you can score a little bit, you’re going to score some points in this league.

“I wish I could have made more shots and I’m fairly sure my team-mates felt that way.”

And the Warriors forward instead deflected praise onto “phenomenal” team-mate Thompson.

“Down 17 coming into the third and then coming out of that third quarter down four, Klay has played in the league so many years – being up and being down – and his instincts just took over,” Durant said.

“He knew what we needed from him. He was phenomenal, man. Phenomenal.”

Golden State have endured a tough stretch, with Durant and Draymond Green clashing on the court before their losing run, while star point guard Stephen Curry has been out injured and emerged unscathed from a car crash on Friday.

But Durant is pleased the Warriors are now moving on and performing again on the floor. Both Green, out with a toe injury, and Curry are nearing returns ahead of five consecutive away games.

“It feels good to close out the home stand before we go on the road trip,” Durant said. “That’s what we appreciate more than anything.

“All the stuff that happened [with Green] feels like so long ago. I think we’ve just moved past that and we’re trying to just play good basketball. We know how tough it is every single night.

“It will be good to have Steph and Draymond back in there, two guys that are champions, All-Stars, you name it,” he said.

“We definitely missed Steph’s creativity out there, his energy, his flow, his passion for the game. Draymond’s intensity – you can tell, just looking at him on the bench, he’s like a caged animal. I can’t wait to have him back.”

Source: NBA/YouTube

Wizards overcome Harden’s 54 points

John Wall scored six of his 36 points in overtime as the Washington Wizards outlasted the Houston Rockets 135-131 in overtime on Monday despite James Harden’s season-high 54 points.

Bradley Beal equaled his season-best with 32 points and Markieff Morris finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Wall had two baskets in overtime and dished out 11 assists.

Harden scored 12 points in the first quarter, 11 in the second and 21 points in the third quarter. His career high is 60 points.

He started the fourth quarter on the bench then added six more as the teams remained deadlocked 125-125 at the end of regulation.

Harden missed five of his seven shots in the fourth. In overtime, Harden was one of two from the field and had two free throws. He had 11 turnovers, including three in overtime.

“It’s not even about myself,” Harden said. “It’s about our entire team. We had a really good start to the game and kind of let our guard down.”

Source: NBA/YouTube

Harden played a season-high 47 minutes and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he knows he is asking a lot of his superstar.

“We’re asking you know what? Play (47) minutes, make every play,” D’Antoni said. “There are going to be periods where he’s just gassed.”

Wall said Beal enjoys the challenge of facing Harden.

“It’s what you dream of,” Wall said. “It’s what you live for, to be on the big stage, a big moment, going against a guy like that.”

Eric Gordon scored a season-high 36 for the short-handed Rockets, who played without Chris Paul for the second straight game.

Washington’s Otto Porter opened the scoring in overtime with 4:47 to play and the Wizards maintained the lead the rest of the way.

© – AFP, 2018 

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