Turned up another notch, Warriors-OKC rivalry isn't going away anytime soon

Turned up another notch, Warriors-OKC rivalry isn't going away anytime soon

Having beaten the Clippers into relative harmlessness, the Warriors have moved on to a new antagonist. It’s abundantly clear that team is the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The animosity generated during the 2016 Western Conference Finals was cranked up to outright bitterness when Kevin Durant left OKC last July to join the Warriors. Eight months later, the blood of competitive warfare runs rampant through the veins of both rosters.

The latest came Monday night, late in the second quarter of a 111-95 Warriors victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

While the players were positioning for a jump ball between Warriors forward Andre Iguodala and Thunder forward Taj Gibson, Stephen Curry’s attempt to step in front of OKC guard Semaj Christon was met with a push from Christon. Curry pushed back, after which Thunder guard Russell Westbrook stepped in front of Christon and gave Curry a shove.

“I was just trying to get in between Russ and (Christon),” Curry told reporters in Oklahoma City. “And I felt him push me. I kind of let that first one go, then as I kept going there was another little push. And at that point, I just wanted to hold my position.”

Westbrook, naturally, saw things differently.

“Curry tried to get into it with Semaj, tried to push him,” he said. “And I stepped right between, and that’s it. Once I see something going down with my teammates, I’m hopping in.”

As words were exchanged, Curry confronted Westbrook and within seconds, a scrum had formed near the OKC bench. There were no punches, but Draymond Green went after Westbrook and Christon in an effort to shoo them away.

With Gibson standing in the middle of it all, playing peacemaker with his arms around Curry, coaches and security personnel from both teams stepped onto the court to separate the players.

Order was restored, in part because Zaza Pachulia whisked Curry away from the crowd while referee Eric Lewis turned away Westbrook.

Double technical fouls were assessed, first to Curry and Christon and then to Green and Westbrook.

“Nothing surprises me at this point, when it comes to anything like that,” Green said of being hit with the technical foul. “I actually knew it was going to happen. I didn’t do any thing. But I knew it. If I’m anywhere in the area, it’s expected.”

Play resumed with the jump ball with 5.3 seconds left in the half. As the ball was tapped toward the Thunder bench, it was gathered by Klay Thompson, who flung it to Curry, who grabbed it and, without dribbling, launched and drained a 30-footer as the buzzer sounded.

To punctuate the theatrics, Curry broke into a full sprint toward the locker room the instant the ball went through the net to give the Warriors a 59-39 lead at the half.

“That was dope,” Green said. “A heads-up play by Klay, to get the pass out to Steph, and a great shot.”

There were other moments when things turned testy, suggesting that these teams are competing beyond the game.

They are. It’s about last May, when OKC took a 3-1 series lead and the Warriors came back to win in seven. It’s about last July, when Durant made his seismic move. It’s about Pachulia’s iron screen on Westbrook earlier this season that prompted the OKC guard vow revenge.

It’s also about the natural rivalry between point guards Curry and Westbrook, something Westbrook inflamed as recently as last week. That’s not going away any time soon.

Neither is the Warriors-Thunder beef, which very easily to live as long as Durant is wearing either jersey.

 

Report: W's encouraged by KD's rehab, hopeful for regular season return

Report: W's encouraged by KD's rehab, hopeful for regular season return

When the Warriors announced the severity of Kevin Durant's knee injury, they did not rule out a return before the end of the regular season.

And based on the progress of his rehab, the team is "hopeful" but "cautiously optimistic" that Durant will indeed play before the end of the regular season, according to ESPN.

The Warriors have 11 games remaining on their schedule and their final regular season game is April 12 against the Lakers.

On Tuesday, prior to the Warriors game against Dallas, Durant was seen working out on the court and putting up jump shots.

Just a day earlier, Durant worked up a good sweat while riding a stationary bike in Oklahoma City.

Durant is expected to be re-evaluated by the Warriors' medical staff next week.

After initially struggling without Durant, the Warriors have won five straight games. Durant sat on the bench for the road wins in Oklahoma City and Dallas.

Over the weekend, Warriors PG Stephen Curry and PF Draymond Green addressed Durant's recovery.

“You can tell he’s making improvements and following the game plan,” Curry told the media. “I see him in the weight room doing cardio stuff trying to stay as close to game shape as he can while he’s hurt. You like to see improvements every day. We still don’t know when he’ll be back.”

“When he’s ready, we’ll know,” Green told the media. “But it’s not really our job to try to figure out every day how he’s doing. You can kind of see he’s getting better and you just leave it at that.”

 

Adonal Foyle recalls brutal first talk with Don Nelson

adonal-foyle-don-nelson.jpg
USATSI

Adonal Foyle recalls brutal first talk with Don Nelson

SAN FRANCISCO -- He is among the greatest basketball coaches ever to walk a sideline. Creative and abrasive, accomplished yet unfulfilled, all wrapped in a 6-foot-7 package of Svengali.

Some say Don Nelson, who served two stints coaching the Warriors, was brutally honest, others insist needlessly cruel. There is little dispute, though, that “Nellie” could be as subjective as the sun is hot.

If you were one of “his guys,” you could do little wrong.

If you weren’t, you knew it early and you heard it often -- as former Warriors center Adonal Foyle, who was on the roster for 10 seasons, discovered in 2006.

“Don Nelson told me the first day he showed up at the gym: ‘You suck. You’ll never play for me. You make too much money.’ That was it,“ Foyle recalled Tuesday on the Warriors Insider Podcast.

“And he was having a cigar when he did it.”

Foyle, who returned to the Warriors in 2014 to serves as a Community Ambassador, clearly enjoyed his time with the “We Believe” Warriors, despite and because of the presence of Nelson. Foyle quickly learned about the two sides of Nellie.

Nelson had favorites. There was, in his first stint coaching the Warriors, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway, to name two. In his second stint, there was Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson.

Yet the list of those who could not seem to escape Nelson’s doghouse may have been longer, including the likes of Terry Teagle, Tyrone Hill, Sarunas Marciulionis and, later, Al Harrington, Ike Diogu, Marco Belinelli. Nelson’s most famous object of disgust was, of course, Chris Webber.

Foyle, who logged 1,824 minutes before Nelson’s arrival in 2006, played only 475 minutes in 2006-07.

“I knew I wasn’t going to play, because he made it clear,” Foyle recalled. “So I could be pissed off. I could be angry.

“I’m just going to be there. I’m just going to do my job the best way I could for that year. And I’m just going to learn. And I’m just going to help our where I can. I’ll help my teammates out. I’ll do the job that I’m paid to do.”

Foyle, the team’s all-time leader in blocked shots (1,140), scored a total of 107 points that season. His 50 blocks ranked third on the team. His ratio of blocks, one every 9.5 minutes, led the team.

The Warriors staged a furious rally to close the season, ending a 13-year postseason drought by gaining the No. 8 seed. They pulled off an epic upset, stunning top-seeded Dallas in the first round.

The Utah Jazz in the second round eliminated the Warriors in five games, the last played on May 15.

Ninety days later, Nelson and the Warriors bought out Foyle’s contract. He spent his final two seasons in Orlando and Memphis.