OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant offered some high praise for the Toronto Raptors after watching the Eastern Conference powerhouse knock off the back-to-back defending NBA champions for the second time in less than two weeks.
“So I wouldn’t call them a young team or say them beating us two times is going to give them extra confidence. They’ve been ballin’ before that, and they’re going to be ballin’ after they beat us. So they’re not an up-and-coming team. They’re here.”
With the win, the Raptors swept the season series from the Warriors, doing so without Leonard, who sat out because of a bruised right hip. The Raptors snapped a 13-game losing streak in Oakland, the longest road losing streak against a single opponent in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Raptors’ defense was on point throughout the night against a healthy Warriors group that could never find a rhythm. To put the defensive performance in perspective, the 93 points the Warriors scored were the fourth fewest they’ve scored when Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Durant have all played together. Curry, who was recently named the Western Conference Player of the Week, went just 3-for-12 from the field and scored just 10 points.
Kyle Lowry drops 23 points and Serge Ibaka adds 20 of his own as the Raptors get their first win at Golden State in 14 years.
“They have a little bit of everything,” Curry said. “Athletic wings and bigs that can shoot 3s and put the ball on the floor. We know Kyle Lowry is a great player. Obviously, when Kawhi plays we know what he’s about, but just pretty well-rounded, and they’ve shown different styles to win games. Tonight, they were obviously the better team and everybody seemed to have confidence and was playing off each other really well. And on our end, we just didn’t have it.”
The Warriors’ players and coaches all gave the Raptors credit for their performance, and they realized early that they weren’t matching the intensity the Raptors were playing with. Warriors coach Steve Kerr knows that, as his group tries to win its third straight NBA title, there will be nights when the group simply gets beat by a better opponent on that particular night. Wednesday night was one of those nights for a Warriors group that remains calm and confident in the belief that when the bright lights of the NBA playoffs shine later in the season, they will be ready.
“We’re now in a place where we’re defending a title and defending sort of a mantle that we’ve had for several years, and it’s a different vibe,” Kerr said. “It’s a different feeling than when you’re on the climb like Toronto is, like Milwaukee is, like we were a few years ago. It’s a different feeling, it’s a different vibe. It’s harder to get up for each game, and so there are certain nights where you can just feel it, you don’t have that energy, and if you played in the NBA, you’ve coached in this league, you understand it. If you’ve followed it closely, you understand that. It’s not an excuse, it’s just reality. So we did not bring the required energy.”
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