Durant shines in 1st game at new home arena
OAKLAND, CALIF. >> Oh yeah, Kevin Durant fully planned on putting up the initial shot for the U.S. as he played his first game at Oracle Arena since joining the Golden State Warriors.
Kyrie Irving promised to get the ball in his hands to do so, too.
Cheered all night long by his basketball-crazed new fan base, Durant knocked down a 3-pointer on the Americans' first touch and slammed home a dunk the very next time down the floor.
Then, another pretty one-handed jam just a few minutes after that. He scored the first 10 points for the United States.
What a performance for Golden State's newest big star to help lead the U.S. Olympic team past China 107-57 on Tuesday night for a third dominant victory in as many exhibition games.
"It was amazing. The atmosphere was great, energy was great. The fans showed me major love, so I appreciate that," he said. "It was good to get out there in front of them and play well."
Durant, who finalized his two-year contract with the Warriors on July 8, scored all 13 of his points during a 131/2-minute span of the first half while playing his first game at his new home, Oracle Arena.
He was the first American player back on the floor after halftime to get in some more shots, all while Warriors general manager Bob Myers stood close by along the sideline.
Booed in Los Angeles a couple days back, Durant received a far friendlier reception in the Bay Area he will now call home. He emerged for pregame warmups to huge roars. He departed the court before the game to a swarm of autograph hounds hanging over the railings in the tunnel — and kindly obliged. One person held a sign that read, "KD is not a Villain."
"Certainly you wouldn't want to be introduced after KD in line," said coach Mike Krzyzewski, noting Durant's big defensive strides. "The crowd, the welcoming for Kevin was fantastic. I know he appreciated it very much."
Durant received a rousing standing ovation when introduced along with Warriors All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Also cheered was former Golden State forward Harrison Barnes, part of this past season's runner-up team that squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers to miss out on a repeat title.
The sellout crowd went nuts again when Durant checked back into the game at the 2:32 mark of the third quarter.
"I didn't lose sleep over today. I just wanted to be myself. ... I knew I was going to pull the first shot since like yesterday. Luckily it went in," he said. "I'm not going to lie, it felt a little weird for these fans to be cheering me on like that obviously being somewhere for so long and then making a change."
Krzyzewski's latest star-studded roster sure looks untouchable just more than a week before the Rio Games begin. DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points and Thompson added 15 points with four 3-pointers and five assists.
Chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" greeted Durant in the building where Stephen Curry has won the past two NBA MVPs, becoming this first unanimous winner last season.
Curry — who opted out of playing for the Americans in their Rio Olympic run — had a courtside seat to watch with his wife, Ayesha. He put on a little shooting show after the game.
Durant took a moment to chat with Curry.
Warriors assistant coach and former member of the Thunder staff Ron Adams was an early arrival to watch Durant's warmup routine. At his introductory news conference, Durant joked, "Ron Adams was the only reason I came."
"Being one of the best players in the world, he's easy to play with," Krzyzewski said.
Before joining Golden State, Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder blew a 3-1 lead to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. He is ready to chase a championship with Curry and Co.
Green, joined on the court by Durant and Thompson, took the microphone before tipoff to thank the fans.
"We appreciate the support," he said. "We look forward to going on to Rio and winning the gold."
It will be the second straight Olympics the Americans have three teammates on the roster. Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook represented the U.S. four years ago at the London Games.
The next stop for Krzyzewski's team will be in Chicago to face Venezuela on Friday night at United Center before wrapping up its pre-Olympic tour against Nigeria on Monday in Houston. He wants the Americans to tone down a little bit of the flash that he considered his players having too much fun.
China, which lost to the Americans 106-57 on Sunday, and the U.S. also meet in their Olympic opener Aug. 6.
A moment of silence was held for former Warriors great Nate Thurmond, a Hall of Famer who died earlier this month at age 74 after a short bout with leukemia.
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