Yahoo’s Chris Mannix hails Kevin Durant as the best player in the NBA after his epic Game 2, 4th quarter

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Joining Nick Wright, Cris Carter and Jenna Wolfe in studio on First Things First, Yahoo's Chris Mannix hails Kevin Durant as the best player in the NBA after his epic game-two, fourth-quarter performance (he scored 15 points in the 4th alone, 29 total) in the Golden State Warriors' 121-116 win over Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. Do you agree with Mannix on KD?

CHRIS MANNIX: After the first round series, the conversation had shifted back again to, is Anthony Davis the most dominant player in basketball? Is he the best player in basketball?

Well, the fourth quarter of last night's game, we saw the best player in basketball right now. Kevin Durant had 15 in the fourth quarter. Right now-- look, we can have a-- it's a subjective conversation. I get that-- but 15 points for Kevin Durant when it mattered in the fourth quarter.

Anthony Davis didn't even lead his team in shots in the fourth quarter. That was Rondo with eight. He finished with five points-- really, only two of them during a consequential period of that game before it got out of reach in the final three minutes of it.

Anthony Davis needed to play big in that game, and Davis didn't. And that's what cost them.

JENNA WOLFE: Let's talk about Steph Curry coming back last night. Nick said earlier he was 100% the difference in that game, not that we were worried before when he came back. But it seems like everything is clicking out. They're 100% healthy. Do the Pelicans have a shot to get another game at this point?

CHRIS MANNIX: At home, yeah, they do. They play pretty well down there. And look, as we've seen throughout the playoffs, and historically, I mean, game three is when you get a team's best shot. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the Pelicans come out with a sense of pride and with-- they're a team that has good defensive game plans that played pretty well for most of the game last night. I think they get game three.

But Nick's right. Like, you don't beat Golden State four out of five. You get that game three. You'll lose game four. This series ends back in Oakland in game five.

CRIS CARTER: And we can't act as if they didn't need Steph to play the way they did.


CRIS CARTER: Didn't they need him to play that way?

CHRIS MANNIX: Klay didn't play well at all.

CRIS CARTER: No. Draymond had a tremendous game. And they needed KD to take over in the fourth quarter. So I still feel as if they have a chance. Their bench being short-- especially the longer the series goes, the more you try to eat in, or the more that bench is exposed for the lack of help that they've provided for this team.

NICK WRIGHT: And I'll get to Steph in a second. I want to give KD credit. Because this was a series-- going into it, you asked yourself, who do the Warriors have that can guard Anthony Davis? And then you asked yourself, who do the Pelicans have that can even kind of guard Kevin Durant?

CHRIS MANNIX: That was the bigger question for me.


CHRIS MANNIX: Because I knew they'd have to stick Holiday on him.


CHRIS MANNIX: And that was always a mismatch.

NICK WRIGHT: And the height difference-- Holiday's an outstanding defender. But he's seven inches shorter.

CRIS CARTER: And it's how KD plays. Because KD can bring the ball up. He can cross you over, shoot the three. But also, he can get the ball on elbow, face the bucket. And he's great at just shooting right over the top of you.

NICK WRIGHT: And I'm going to let you slide on-- I assume something happened in your brain for a second when you said "the best player in basketball."


NICK WRIGHT: Maybe you meant the Western Conference. Maybe you meant the series. I'm not sure exactly what you were saying there. But I'll let it go.

But as far as Steph Curry goes, just show what it was with and without him last night. And by the way, it's not like he played 38 minutes. He played 28 minutes.

The Warriors played 20 minutes without Steph Curry. Their offensive rating with him was 130. Without him, it was 72.

They took 17 threes with him on the court. They were three of 17-- with him off the court. Pardon me. They were 43% with him on the court.

Like, that was the difference last night. Like, KD was excellent. Draymond was excellent. But if Steph was out for both games of the first two like we thought he might be-- we thought, going into the series, oh, the first two games in Golden State, they're not going to have Steph for either one, then it would be 1-1. It wouldn't have mattered that Anthony Davis only had 25 and 10.

And on Davis, like, this is where he's at in the league. It's a compliment to him. It's a compliment that you can have 25 and 10-- or 25-15-- pardon me-- and we can say, you need to do more. Because he absolutely needed to do more. He needed to have a game where we're having the discussion, is Anthony Davis the best player in the world?

CHRIS MANNIX: Look, he had an all-NBA superstar first half. And after that, it was largely non-existent. He went into that fourth quarter with 20 points, only got five in that period.

And one thing I liked about Durant-- I mean, you mentioned the mismatch that he had against Jrue Holiday. You look at the fourth quarter of that game. They exploited that mismatch. They went to the post. They allowed Durant to shoot over Holiday or whoever they put on him.

Where was Anthony Davis in those situations? There's a size advantage that Davis has when he's on Draymond Green. I thought Draymond was in Davis's head in that fourth quarter. I thought he played more physical. I thought he wanted it more.

That's the kind of game where, if you're Davis, you have to put your team on your back and you have to carry them through some of those stretches. He didn't do it in that game. That's going to cost him the series.