The Warriors’ late-season game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Oakland was a game like any other, though Golden State is still fighting with the Denver Nuggets for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference in order to secure home court advantage through the playoffs.
They were able to get the 112-89 win behind 19 points and 11 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins, who led the way for the Warriors. And if Kevin Durant had a noticeably quiet outing against the Pacers — 15 points on 1-of-4 shooting from downtown and four turnovers — there was a reason for that.
Just hours prior, he and teammate Quinn Cook received the tragic news that a mutual friend, 32-year-old Clifford Dixon, was shot and killed outside a Georgia nightclub where he was attending a birthday get-together in his honor.
Dixon, 32, had just arrived at the SL Lounge at 1:17 a.m. Thursday and was standing in the parking lot when he was shot multiple times, according to local police. He was there to celebrate his birthday, according to an Instagram post promoting the party.
Dixon was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police have not arrested the shooter, who they say ran from the nightclub on foot.
Durant’s mother, Wanda Pratt, reportedly took Dixon into her care when he was a teenager and was considered by both Durant and his mother as a part of the family. Wanda took to Twitter on Thursday to honor Dixon’s memory.
Cook was likewise visibly shaken by the tragic news.
After the game, Steve Kerr spoke about the devastating loss, explaining that the decision for both Durant and Cook to play in Thursday night’s game was about being able to take refuge in the game and find some comfort during such a difficult time.