NBA: Injured Durant may return next month

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors as he drives to the hoop under pressure from Larry nance Jr (left) and Brandon Ingram of the Los Angeles Lakers in their NBA game, on Nov 4, 2016.
Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors as he drives to the hoop under pressure from Larry nance Jr (left) and Brandon Ingram of the Los Angeles Lakers in their NBA game, on Nov 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK • The Golden State Warriors on Wednesday were coping with a new reality that looked a lot like their old reality - life without Kevin Durant.

Durant, who joined the Warriors last summer, injured his left knee in a loss to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday and could miss the rest of the National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season.

The team announced on Wednesday that Durant sprained his medial collateral ligament and suffered a tibial bone bruise and would be re-evaluated in four weeks.

While the Warriors did not offer a specific timetable for his return, they said that he could be back before Golden State's final regular season game against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 12. The play-offs start in about six weeks.

The Warriors (50-10) own the NBA's best record and have already clinched a play-off berth. They enter this morning's (Singapore time) game against the Chicago Bulls leading the San Antonio Spurs by 31/2 games for home-court advantage throughout the play-offs.

However, Durant's injury complicates things. The 28-year-old forward was having one of the best, most efficient seasons of his career, averaging 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists a game.

With defenders having to pay attention to the other All-Stars the Warriors deploy, like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Durant was feasting on open looks from the perimeter and shooting a career-best 53.7 per cent from the field.

The Warriors ought to have enough scoring to compensate for his absence but the larger issue is their defence.

Durant had emerged as the team's most effective rim protector, averaging a career-best 1.6 blocks a game.

The Warriors have the league's second-best defence, and his value is difficult to overstate. The good news for them is that they still have Draymond Green, perhaps the best all-around defender in the NBA.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Injured Durant may return next month'. Print Edition | Subscribe