Superstars mesh: Curry, Durant thriving as new teammates
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) As shootaround wrapped up one morning last weekend, once Stephen Curry had concluded his methodical session flicking jumpers from every spot on the same practice court he always uses, Kevin Durant took a pass from the MVP's main rebounding man, Bruce Fraser, and let fly an extra-long 3-pointer from the right wing.
When Curry recently hosted 14 children and their families through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and handed out shoes and bags, Durant did his part: He walked up and introduced himself to all the visitors, too, with plenty of high-fives.
For everyone who questioned whether Curry and Durant could coexist and put their egos aside for the greater good - a championship chase, of course - the Golden State Warriors are a couple of months into the season and the two superstars are thriving together, feeding off one another and cherishing the chance to create spectacular plays night after night with arguably the best team in the NBA.
As far as their on-court chemistry, it's obvious to anyone who watches they're having a blast. And, ''they learn a lot from each other. ... They've had plenty of discussions talking to each other trying to help each other out on the floor,'' teammate Ian Clark said.
Each guy mentions experiencing ''wow'' moments playing alongside the other for a team regularly reaching 30 assists. Golden State has even posted a handful of 40-assist performances.
''Most definitely,'' Durant said. ''The way he shoots the basketball coming off of curls, off the dribble, off the catch, guys flying at him, it's amazing to see. When he shoots the ball I think every shot's going in. I won't say that about a lot of people. But it's still the wow factor when I'm playing with him and Klay (Thompson). It definitely makes my job easier going out there trying to get them open, trying to make plays for them. It's definitely fun. He can get it going.''
Not to forget Thompson, who scored 60 points in less than three quarters against the Pacers on Dec. 5.
Everyone is getting their touches, while Curry and Durant seem to take turns on the highlight reel - though they've had a bunch of games when both had big nights.
''It's fun. Obviously they're both so skilled,'' Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ''They might be the two most skilled players in the league when you're talking about the combination of shooting and passing and creating for others. It's an incredible luxury as a coach to be able to count on guys like that. The fact that they're so unselfish just completes it all. They really want to see each other succeed, they want to see their teammates succeed.''
Against Portland on Saturday, the third quarter was winding down when Durant realized two defenders were swarming him and he made a perfect bounce pass between them to find Curry on the left wing. The MVP knocked down a 3 as the buzzer sounded, Curry pointed at KD and they celebrated with a tame high-five in the blowout.
''There have been moments throughout the season where I wouldn't say you're surprised, but it's kind of just wow moments where you appreciate the talent on this squad all the way through,'' Curry said.
Other times, Curry screens for Durant on the perimeter and then the big man returns the favor. There was a no-look, over-the-shoulder alley-oop Curry threw to Durant off a long heave by Draymond Green against Indiana earlier this month.
''It's fun to watch,'' said former Warriors player and coach Al Attles. ''That's not easy because there are so many outside influences, but they seem to be on the same page.''
Curry, still the last Warriors player announced during pregame introductions, and Durant are constantly looking for each other with the right pass, even if it means passing up a shot. Also against the Trail Blazers, Curry handed off to Durant, who shimmied past CJ McCollum and dribbled left into the paint before an emphatic slam with his right hand over Noah Vonleh.
''Kevin, I don't think there's ever been anybody quite like him in the NBA because of his size and his skill, what he does at that size,'' Kerr said. ''Not many have ever done it.''
Months ago, as they all met in the Hamptons trying to persuade Durant to pick Golden State, Curry and the room of All-Stars envisioned this very kind of depth, dominance and unselfish play that has defined the Warriors during another sensational start.
''As a group, they like sharing the ball with each other,'' Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ''You can tell how close they are as a team.''
Now, Curry and KD are throwing around good-natured jabs at every chance they get, just as they do those spot-on lobs.
Curry's Carolina Panthers team topped Durant-favorite Washington on ''Monday Night Football.'' Each sported his respective team's football jersey after Monday's practice in anticipation.
Curry wouldn't reveal what he has in store for payback as the winner of their bet.
''You will know when you see it,'' he said, grinning. ''You might not see it live, but you'll see it. For sure. That's all I got.''