Fans quickly clustered around the mouth of the tunnel that leads from the court to the home locker room, the Warriors during the NBA season and Team USA for this special occasion, and started to scream with 86 minutes to go before tipoff Tuesday night. Eighty-six.
“KD! KD!” they shouted in the direction of the basket near the walkway.
Two days after Kevin Durant said he didn’t know what to expect from the crowd in his first game at Oracle Arena after signing with the Warriors, he got an immediate, and predictable, answer: United States-China in the latest pre-Olympic test for the Americans that wasn’t, a 107-57 rout for Team USA in the other predictable development, was an event far beyond the game as the first chance for fans to deliver a public welcome authentic jerseys wholesale to their newest All-Star and MVP candidate.
The ovation for Durant during pregame introductions was louder and longer than for anyone. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, holdover Warriors, got warm embraces when their turn came as the rosters were announced, and Harrison Barnes received a nice sendoff as he moves from Golden State to Dallas as a free agent, but the moment belonged to KD. (Continuing the partisan feel over national pride, DeAndre Jordan was sprinkled with boos, a continuation of jabs from the Clippers-Warriors semi-rivalry after Durant and Green got the same treatment Sunday in Los Angeles.)
That Durant followed by making his first shot, a jumper with the game seven seconds old, and scoring the first 10 points for Team USA, fit right into the script. He had 13 in the first half as the game quickly got out of hand, at 52-24 at intermission, and finished with 13 to supplement the 21 from DeMarcus Cousins jersey and 20 by Carmelo Anthony.
The United States next plays Friday, against Venezuela in Chicago, and then has a final exhibition Monday against Nigeria in Houston before heading to Rio de Janeiro for the start of the Summer Games.
Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988.
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