LOS ANGELES • This time, the Golden State Warriors did not squander a 31-point lead.
This time, Kevin Durant played aggressively.
Unlike their worst post-season collapse in Game 2, the Warriors coasted to a 132-105 Game 3 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in their National Basketball Association (NBA) first-round series at the Staples Centre on Thursday.
Unlike his muted performance in Game 2, when he contributed only 21 points, Durant looked more for his shot, finishing with 38 on the night, while going 14 of 23 from the field and seven of eight from the free-throw line despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
Not only did this serve as a redemption game for the 10-time All-Star, who had more turnovers (nine) than shots (eight) in the capitulation, but this was also a chance for the two-time defending champions to silence their critics.
And Golden State were determined not to let history repeat itself as this time, they held firmly on to their 24-point lead.
Andrew Bogut's rebounds in the first game he is replacing the injured DeMarcus Cousins at centre. He also had eight points.
The pre-game talk had been all about Patrick Beverley, and how his swarming defence and trash talking had gotten into Durant's head.
But the forward showed he still had more facets to his game that had yet to be figured out, with tracking website Second Spectrum recording he nailed three out of four contested shots to improve to 69 per cent shooting when being guarded by the Clippers guard.
Asked about Beverley, who had six points, forward Draymond Green told ESPN that he "liked Kevin in any match-up".
The three-time All-Star, who had eight points for the Warriors, said: "I don't really talk about other players during the series. But I like Kevin in that match-up, regardless with whoever. Any time. Period.
"No one's defence matters, by the way. I've been on the other side of that (when at the Oklahoma City Thunder) and mine didn't either. I like that match-up with anybody."
Beyond Durant's production, the Warriors also leaned on their other stars in Stephen Curry (21 points), Andre Iguodala (15) and Klay Thompson (12).
Andrew Bogut, filling in at centre with DeMarcus Cousins likely out for the season, also looked comfortable among his far more illustrious teammates, scoring eight points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
Calling on the team to continue to try to get Durant in the right positions, Curry added: "We all know what spots to be in on the floor, where to (find) space, things like that. It allows him to be more aggressive."
The Clippers were paced by 18 points from centre Ivica Zubac and will try to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2 in Los Angeles tomorrow.