Kevin Durant's movie opens this Friday

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Kevin Durant's movie opens this Friday

From Comcast SportsNet
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kevin Durant is going from representing the red, white and blue to walking the red carpet. Adding to a resume that already includes being a three-time NBA scoring champion and Olympic gold medalist, Durant was the star as his movie "Thunderstruck" premiered in Oklahoma City's Bricktown entertainment district Sunday night. It opens in other theaters Friday. Durant strolled down a red carpet in a black T-shirt, grey vest, white jeans and black sneakers to answer questions about his acting skills instead of the deadly shooting ability that propelled the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals last season. "Of course, people are going to look at it a little different because I'm a basketball player and I'm doing something different," Durant said. "A basketball player is what I do. It's not really just solely who I am. I like to do other things. "It's all about conquering your fears. That's one thing I did with this, stepping in front of a camera and people yelling Action!' It's not the norm for me. I did something outside the box, and I'm glad it turned out pretty well." Durant was getting his first chance to see the completed project, which was shot in Louisiana during the NBA lockout last year and then during the season in Oklahoma City in January. It also features Nickelodeon star Taylor Gray, Brandon T. Jackson from "Big Momma's House" and Jim Belushi. Gray plays a Thunder fan whose lack of basketball ability is magically switched with Durant's All-Star skill set. "I'm just blessed. I'm just blessed to be alive, first of all. Blessed to be here, to have this opportunity," Durant said. "Not too many people can say they starred in a movie as a basketball player, with a lot of different things they're juggling, but I'm glad I did it." The folks at Warner Bros. might not have been able to pick a better time to put out a movie starring Durant, exactly one week after he won Olympic gold as Team USA's leading scorer and a little over a month after he played against LeBron James' Miami Heat for the NBA title. The family comedy follows in the footsteps of other movies with NBA superstars as the headliners, including "Space Jam" starring Michael Jordan and "Kazaam" with Shaquille O'Neal. "When a guy goes over and hugs his mom after the game, that's a guy that people are going to like and that's what you need in a movie," director John Whitesell said. "You need a guy, a star, who people are going to want to relate to or are going to care about. "You want people to care that Kevin can't shoot. If LeBron can't shoot, I don't care. I'm happy. But if Kevin can't shoot, I'm sad." Whitesell said Durant might have been caught off guard by the days he had to be on set and in front of the camera for 12 hours, when his previous experience was with much briefer commercial shoots. The first day, he had Durant bounce a ball in a gym and worked toward getting him comfortable in his own shoes -- because he plays himself in the movie. "I wanted to create an atmosphere for him that he felt comfortable and confident in, so that he could grow into it as we went, and I think that went really well," said Whitesell, who remembered his only other experience filming athletes coming on a cameo appearance by Patrick Ewing and Mark Jackson on the short-lived NBC show "Tattingers." Gray said he played varsity basketball as a junior in high school, but then left to start shooting TV shows. He walks away with an unforgettable memory from playing one-on-one against Durant. "It's like, to this day, my biggest accomplishment in basketball. He was really guarding me and had blocked like the last three shots and I was just running around throwing up hook shots and anything I could, and one fell in," said Gray, who hopes the film will help him land roles in future movies. Durant has said he doesn't see himself doing any more feature-length movies because of the demands on his time. Whitesell put it this way: He doesn't think Durant will do another movie at least until he wins a championship. "This is a guy who everybody wants a piece of him right now and he's got a lot on his plate. But I know from when we were there what he cares about. He cares about basketball," Whitesell said. "He wants to win a championship, he wants to do the best he can possibly do at that and he's just blossoming." Already, Durant has accomplished one goal by winning gold in London alongside James, Kobe Bryant and other NBA stars. He said he didn't get much ribbing about being a movie star, although a couple of his Olympic teammates did ask about it. He planned to send a text message to them all after getting to see the movie for the first time. "Hopefully they'll take their kids to see it, and hopefully they enjoy it," Durant said. "Those guys, man, they're unbelievable. They support everything. Those guys are really good teammates. I was blessed that I got that opportunity to be around such great players but such humble guys as well."

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

OAKLAND -- No one among the Warriors had a deeper desire to beat the Cavaliers than Stephen Curry, and his performance Monday gave every indication that he wanted it as badly as he needed it.

And after losing the point-guard battle to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in four successive games, all Warriors losses, it was past time for Curry as the back-to-back MVP to stand up and make a statement.

His response was impressive: 20 points (7-of-20 shooting), 11 assists, four steals and a 126-91 rout by the Warriors. He was plus-23 over 31 minutes.

“He was making shots, it’s as simple as that,” Irving said. “In transition, off pick-and-rolls, doing what he does and that makes him a great player.”

Irving’s response: 17 points (6-of-19 shooting), two assists and a game-high-tying (with teammate LeBron James) six turnovers. Irving was minus-12 over 29 minutes.

“Steph was great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “A phenomenal first half, I think he had 10 assists. His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Curry has been playing with renewed vigor lately, his mentality changing shortly after the Warriors on Christmas Day in Cleveland blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, taking a 109-108 loss. Curry took only 11 shots, scoring 15 points.

He was particularly good in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, with 10 assists and three steals. Curry clearly came to destroy.

“It was a great way to start, just a foot on the gas pedal,” Curry said.

Curry’s game, along with the victory, may silence some of the narrative suggesting the Cavaliers have his number. Though he was displeased with one aspect of his game, Curry happily accepted the outcome. Or that Irving hadn't caught up to him.

“I obviously wanted to play well; I didn’t want to walk off the floor with anything more than what I think is a solid, aggressive game,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to. Some shots I normally make didn’t go down.

But I can live with that knowing I took care of the other stuff I was supposed to do on the floor. Really, what was all in my head was that I definitely wanted to leave this arena tonight with a solid performance and obviously get the win.”

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

OAKLAND -- There was a single play Monday night that delighted Warriors fans more than any other in a 126-91 win over the Cavaliers, and it was not any of five 3-point bombs dropped by Oracle Arena favorite Stephen Curry.

Nor was it the high-velocity collision between Draymond Green and LeBron James, which resulted in Green being assessed with a Flagrant Foul 1 and the Warriors cranking up their intensity to another level.

No, the most satisfying play of all was on defense, and it was made by offensive wizard Kevin Durant, who sent a resounding message to the Cavaliers and, moreover, to James, Cleveland’s superstar forward.

With 9:48 left in the third quarter and James driving in for a dunk, Durant responded by rising up and cleanly stuffing the shot, sending James sprawling helplessly to the floor as the Warriors gained possession and raced the other way.

“That block at the rim was definitely great,” Draymond Green said. “If LeBron dunks on him right there, the momentum swings, he’s excited and everything can possibly swing. Yeah, he made a stand. Got a big block for us and we got off to the races. That puts momentum completely in our favor.”

With the crowd pumping up the volume, the Warriors, already in control, finished the job. And don’t think Durant isn’t aware of the effect such a play has.

“Yeah, especially when you’re at home, when you get a block against anybody, the crowd is into the game and they really enjoy that,” he said. “Around the league now, in every arena, fans are starting to respect defense. They can sense that it’s a momentum shift when you get a big block or a huge steal or a block.”

It also put momentum, on a personal level, in Durant’s favor. Despite the fact that Curry has won the last two MVP awards, it’s widely believed that James and Durant are the top two players in the NBA.

James has three championship rings, while Durant has none. James has four MVP awards, to one for Durant. When the two met in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Durant was with the Thunder and James with the Heat, Miami won in five games.

Durant, who entered the league four years after James, is at the point in his career that he believes he’s ready for anything James may have. Furthermore, since coming to the Warriors last summer, Durant clearly embraces the opportunity to beat James.

Durant posted 36 points and 15 rebounds when the teams met in Cleveland on Christmas Day, and posted 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals on Monday. KD, on an individual basis, is now 2-0 this season against LeBron.

“Guarding one of the best players in the league, and somebody that can score in different ways and impact the game from different ways, whether it’s in transition or the pick-and-roll or (isolation), I just tried to stay locked in and relied on my teammates,” Durant said.