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Steve Kerr says Kevin Durant took the Patrick Beverley bait

Steve Kerr, Kevin Durant, Patrick Beverley

Kevin Durant’s frustration with Patrick Beverley, and vice versa, finally boiled over.

The Houston Rockets’ combative point guard lived up his reputation in Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors, agitating Durant from the opening tip with holds, grabs, trash talk, and even real-time mimes of what Beverley considered flops, to help make up for the immense size differential between he and the two-time reigning Finals MVP. The strategy worked to a certain extent, as Durant played active bystander to Steph Curry’s virtuosic performance en route to 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting, a solid but unspectacular line for a player of his all-time caliber.

With four minutes and 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter, though, he and Beverley each lost their relative cools. After stripping Beverley of the ball near half court, sending the basketball’s most dogged defender crashing to the scorer’s table, Durant loomed over him in an aggressive verbal taunt, causing Beverley to rise to his feet and immediately get chest to chest with Durant before the pair were separated by referee Ed Malloy. Both players were immediately ejected.

After the game, Golden State coach Steve Kerr seemed less than pleased with Durant losing grasp of his composure.

“We talked about it for two days, saying don’t take the bait, but Kevin took it,” he said, per ClutchPoints’ Tomer Azarly.

Fortunately for the Warriors, they led Los Angeles by 17 points at the time of Durant’s ejection, and Curry, it seemed, wasn’t going to let them lose on Saturday anyway. But Kerr is smart to publicly acknowledge Durant’s mistake. Beverley certainly won’t be backing down, and Durant is too important to Golden State to fall for his mind games again.