NEW ORLEANS — Kevin Durant led the Golden State Warriors to a 26-point Game 4 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans with a game-high 38 points, and it was prompted by Draymond Green, who led with an inspiring text message challenge sent at 4 in the morning.
After the Warriors were blown out by the Pelicans in Game 3, Green told ESPN he stayed up watching film.
“I can’t sleep when we lose like that,” Green said.
Throughout the night, he got so agitated by his team’s performance that he sent Durant a “long-ass text message.”
The All-Star power forward wouldn’t divulge his message in its totality, but he said he had to let his teammate know how he felt at that moment.
“I just challenged him to be who he is. I had to tell him,” Green told ESPN. “I didn’t see him attacking or being aggressive enough on both ends of the floor like we need him to be. You know, I don’t hold back. When I see something’s wrong, I have to voice my opinion. There were no hard feelings. We’re just trying to win a ballgame.”
When Durant woke up hours later, his reply to the text message was “I got you.”
Durant said he was a little surprised to have a text waiting for him, but he wasn’t surprised by Green’s viewpoint. A stat line of 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting in 35 minutes of a 19-point loss won’t do for a player of Durant’s caliber.
“In short, [Draymond] said don’t worry about s— else but playing with force and being aggressive,” Durant told ESPN. “And I tried to do that as much as possible today. I wasn’t aggressive in Game 3, and I knew that. It’s good to know that teammates got your back. It was good to hear that from him.”
Green said that over the past two days, he consistently reminded Durant that he was brought in to be himself.
“What we saw from him today, that’s what we need,” Green told ESPN, citing Durant’s going 15-of-27 from the floor to pair with nine boards and five assists in 36 minutes. “He was engaged and scoring all over the place. He was changing the game. That’s the impact he has when he’s playing aggressive out there for us. That’s what I love seeing.”
As the Warriors were finishing a 118-92 win to take a 3-1 lead in the second-round series, Andrew Polk, a stand-up comedian from Ruston, Louisiana, posted a disturbing tweet directed at Green.
“I hope Draymond get shot in the face as soon as he leaves the arena, which looking at the city-wide stats, is like 37%,” Polk tweeted. The tweet has since been deleted.
“What we saw from him today, that’s what we need. He was engaged and scoring all over the place. He was changing the game. That’s the impact he has when he’s playing aggressive out there for us. That’s what I love seeing.”
Warriors forward Draymond Green on Kevin Durant
After flirting with a triple-double by way of 8 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, Green was asked about the Twitter death wish while on the postgame podium with Stephen Curry.
“If he feels the need to do something like that about basketball, then I feel bad for him,” he said. “It’s kind of sad that someone would take this that serious. At the end of the day, it’s a game and making death threats and talking about life — I just pray that he gets the help that he needs because I personally, No. 1, don’t worry about it and No. 2, don’t care that much about [basketball]. And I care a lot about basketball, [but] I don’t care that much. Being that we’re in it every day and we’re literally blood, sweat and tears in this every day, and it doesn’t matter that much to me, it shouldn’t matter that much to him, either. I just pray that he gets the help that he needs.”
Polk later tweeted an apology at Green: “I tweeted a very dumb thing meant to be an edgy joke. As a frustrated basketball fan, I go through ups and downs, and as a comedian, I don’t always express those in a digestible way. I wish no harm to anyone over a simple game, and I apologize sincerely.”
The series shifts to the Bay Area for Game 5 on Tuesday. Golden State hopes to close out the series at home. There is no desire to return to New Orleans, and that was the reason behind Green’s early-morning text message.
On and off the court, Green is producing for his team.
“This place is a crazy environment,” Durant said of the Smoothie King Center. “So I wanted to start off settling us down a bit. I was able to attack in different ways, and it helps when your teammates are motivating you, urging you to go to work. Draymond is one of my biggest supporters. He’s a team-first guy, and you can’t do nothing but respect that.”