CHICAGO (AP) – Coach Steve Kerr was bracing for the worst after Kevin Durant injured his left leg. Instead, he and the Golden State Warriors were breathing a little easier on Thursday.
They expect their superstar forward to return – and perhaps during the regular season. And that sure beats the alternative.
The Warriors had good reason to be nervous after Durant hyperextended his knee 93 seconds into Tuesday’s loss at Washington. But they also had reason to be relieved on Thursday.
An MRI confirmed Durant sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and bruised a bone in his leg. He’s out indefinitely, but the Warriors expect their superstar forward to return this season.
“There was definitely a sense of relief that he’ll be able to come back at some point down the stretch of the season,” two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry said Thursday in Chicago. “Our job now is to (continue) being us, continue to get wins, continue to play well, continue to build toward the playoffs and then when he’s able to rejoin us, hopefully, we hit our stride and be ready to try to win another championship.”
Durant, averaging 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, was injured when teammate Zaza Pachulia fell into him after being pushed by Wizards center Marcin Gortat.
Golden State signed forward Matt Barnes to replace the injured Durant, adding some toughness and defense to a team gearing up for another deep playoff run. He spent two years with the Warriors earlier in his career and helped them beat Dallas in a stunning upset in the 2007 playoffs.
Whether it’s a superstar going down or dropping back-to-back games, losses are starting to add up for the Warriors.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 points and the Chicago Bulls beat Golden State 94-87 on Thursday night in the Warriors’ first game since Durant injured his left leg.
“We’ll adjust without him,” said Warrior’s Klay Thompson. “We won’t make excuses. We’ll be better when he comes back.
We’ve just got to push through. We’ve got enough talent, we’ve got enough depth.”
Curry scored 23 points, and Thompson had 13, but the star guards combined to hit just 3 of 22 3-pointers.
The Warriors dropped back-to-back regular-season games for the first time since April 5 and 7, 2015, at San Antonio and New Orleans.