By Dan Arritt, The Sports Xchange – UPI
However, for most of the Monday game against the Los Angeles Lakers, he sure didn’t play like one.
Durant missed his first seven shot attempts and was 6 of 25 from the field through four quarters. In overtime, though, he made all four of his shots and scored 12 of his 36 points to help the Warriors extend their winning streak to nine with a 116-114 victory over the Lakers.
“I just tried to slow down in the fourth quarter and overtime,” Durant said. “Coach (Steve Kerr) called some great plays, and I was able to hit a few shots.”
Durant broke a 114-114 tie with a pull-up jumper with seven seconds left. He also contributed 11 rebounds and eight assists on the night when the Lakers retired Kobe Bryant‘s uniform numbers with a star-studded halftime ceremony.
“It felt great leaving my hands,” Durant said of his winning basket. “I made a solid move. My handle was tight. I seen some separation and just tried to rise up and follow through.”
David West blocked Lonzo Ball’s layup with one second left to seal the victory.
Ball scored seven of his 16 points in overtime, the last two giving the Lakers a 113-112 lead with 1:03 left, but Durant followed with two free throws to put Golden State back in front. Julius Randle then made one of two free throws to tie the score at 114-114 with 28 seconds left, setting up Durant’s go-ahead jumper.
“That’s what we want to see,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of Ball’s play in overtime. “Whether (shots) go in or not, that’s the aggression we want to see, especially down the stretch of ballgames.”
Klay Thompson scored 17 points on 6-of-24 shooting, and Omri Casspi had 14 points off the bench for Golden State (24-6). The Warriors came in leading the NBA in field-goal percentage (51.6 percent), but shot 40.2 percent against Los Angeles.
“It was an ugly game and we didn’t play very well, but guys gutted it out,” Kerr said. “It’s been a tough stretch without so many of our guys.”
Kyle Kuzma scored 25 points off the bench to lead the Lakers (10-18), and Randle had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Brandon Ingram led the starters with 19 points, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 14.
The Warriors took an 85-84 lead into the fourth quarter and stretched it to seven in the opening minutes of the period, but the Lakers stayed close as they did in an overtime loss against the visiting Warriors on Nov. 29.
Ingram tied the score at 102-102 on a drive with 27 seconds left in regulation, and Durant and Caldwell-Pope missed shots in the final seconds.
Thompson picked up two fouls in the first 90 seconds of the game and was soon replaced Quinn Cook.
The Lakers made seven of their first nine field-goal attempts, and a dunk by Randle on Durant gave Los Angeles its biggest lead at 18-10.
Durant’s first basket was a 3-pointer during a 15-0 run that gave the Warriors a 29-20 lead with 36 seconds left in the first quarter.
“I got better tonight, knowing I fought through it,” Durant said. “I was able to make some better shots down the stretch. I’ll feel a little more confident going into my next game knowing that I ended this game shooting the ball well.”
NOTES: Former Lakers Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, James Worthy, Elden Campbell, Derek Fisher, Slava Medvedenko, Luke Walton and Mark Madsen were among those in attendance during the jersey retirement ceremony at halftime, as well as NBA greats Bill Russell, Allen Iverson and Elgin Baylor. … Lakers C Brook Lopez sprained his right ankle while defending Kevin Durant’s drive with 1:43 left in the first half. X-rays were negative, but Lopez did not return. Kyle Kuzma started the second half in his place. … The Warriors came in averaging 32.1 points in the third quarter this season, tops in the NBA for any quarter. They scored 26 in the third on Monday. … The Lakers entered the night last in the NBA in free-throw percentage (.703), and they shot 22 of 35 (.629). …. The Warriors are 6-1 this season without G Stephen Curry.