NBA

Golden State Warriors break out Kevin Durant and 'Death Lineup' in Game 4 against New Orleans Pelicans

Jay Asser 18:52 07/05/2018
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Kevin Durant dropped 38 points in the Game 4 win.

As the inevitable clash against the Houston Rockets edges closer, the Golden State Warriors are using the second round to get into peak form.

It just so happened that Golden State also needed to claim Game 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans to avoid losing control of the series, which they did with a 118-92 victory to be a game away from the Western Conference Finals.

Winning was important for the Warriors, but more vital to their long-term outlook in these playoffs is how they won Game 4.

Not only did Kevin Durant look unstoppable as he was leaned on to score, but the team’s ‘Death Lineup’ – or ‘Hamptons Five’, referring to Durant hosting free agent pitches in the Hamptons in the summer of 2016 – fired on all cylinders.

Durant scored Golden State’s first two baskets on pull-up jumpers to set the tone for the night as the Warriors put the ball in his hands often. He finished with 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting, which saw him kill the Pelicans in the mid-range, where he shot 9-of-15.

Jrue Holiday had done relatively well to contain Durant earlier in the series, but in Game 4 there was little any New Orleans defender could do as the Golden State forward was dominant in isolations and post-ups, looking like he did during his Oklahoma City days.

“I just try to tell myself that I’m at my best when I don’t care what happens after the game, the outcome or anything,” Durant said. “That’s when I’m free and having fun out there, and forceful. That was the thing – just try to play with force no matter if I missed shots or not, just keep shooting, keep being aggressive.”

The Warriors would prefer to play a more free-flowing style and whip the ball around instead of putting Durant on an island and relying on him to score in one-on-one situations. By unleashing Durant in Game 4, however, Golden State sharpened a weapon they may have to break out later on when their preferred offensive approach isn’t working.

Speaking of sharpening a weapon, the Warriors started Game 4 with their Death Lineup, consisting of Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

That has long been their go-to lineup in critical situations and in Game 4, it looked up for the task as it registered an offensive rating of 130.1 and a defensive rating of 66.5 for a net rating of 63.6 – a great sign for Golden State’s bid to repeat as champions.

“The versatility of that lineup, everybody is a playmaker,” Curry said. “Defensively we’re flying around. It just got the energy right to start the game.”

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