HOUSTON -- David West limped out of Warriors locker room Thursday night with a sprained left ankle, leaving him questionable for the game against the Clippers on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Which puts Draymond Green on alert.
Few guys in the NBA are as good as Green is at sensing what his team needs and finding a way to deliver it. Which is why he is, at age 26, already the Warriors all-time leader in triple-doubles.
His 21st came Thursday night in a 124-114 win over the Rockets. The Warriors were without Kevin Durant, so Green provided 17 points and 14 rebounds. With Stephen Curry spending a fair amount of time at shooting guard, the Warriors needed another playmaker. So Green dropped 10 assists.
Add it all up, and he’s the franchise leader in a category that illustrates versatility. The Warriors are 21-0 when Green posts a triple-double.
“It’s not something I ever thought about or thought would happen, especially not playing much my first two years,” Green said. “It’s kind of crazy. But it’s definitely something to be proud of.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr often cites Green as a player whose varied skills make him a candidate for regular triple-doubles. Still, the power forward needed only three-plus seasons as a starter to surpass previous franchise leader Tom Gola.
“It’s a hell of an accomplishment,” Kerr said. “Tom Gola is a Hall of Famer. It was an amazing night for Draymond. He did everything for us.”
Green played some point guard. Played dash of center and a sprinkle of small forward. And, of course, mostly power forward.
“He’s huge; he’s made a nice living off his uniqueness and what he brings to our team,” Stephen Curry said. “There may be nights where he doesn’t stuff the stat sheets, but he still finds a way to be impactful. And based on the eye test, just watching the game, you can see him all over the place. Like tonight, he played the whole floor game, offensively knocking down shots, rebounding the basketball, finding open guys, playing great defense.”
Green did not start the game particularly well, missing four of his first five shots and committing two turnovers in the first quarter. He pulled it together as the night went on, most notably in the second half, when he basically controlled the game at both ends.
He was minus-1 in 20 first-half minutes, plus-17 in 18 second-half minutes.
“I just settled in and let the game come to me,” he said. “There were some plays in the beginning where I had it but didn’t make the pass quick enough and the gap closed. I settled in and made the easy play, the for sure pass, and stopped trying to make the big play.”
Green stopped trying to force passes in pursuit of the spectacular and began simplifying his game.
It worked well enough that the Warriors, without Durant, were able to come into Toyota Center and put away the Rockets, their chief competitors in the Western Conference.
And if West’s bum ankle keeps him out Saturday, that’s one more void for Green to fill. It might mean more minutes. It might require more toughness.
Check that. Green’s toughness is his most reliable asset. It’s there even on those occasions when little else is working.