Kevin Durant looks frisky, plans to be 'full throttle' in first game back

Kevin Durant looks frisky, plans to be 'full throttle' in first game back

OAKLAND -- After completing a full scrimmage with his teammates as well as a lively post-practice workout Friday, Kevin Durant pronounced himself fit and ready to return to the Warriors.

The 6-foot-9 forward is scheduled to be in the starting lineup Saturday night when the Warriors face the Pelicans at Oracle Arena.

“I looked at the big picture and I figured that at some point, I’d get better,” Durant said. “That day is here and I’m thankful.”

Durant missed 19 full games and nearly all of another when he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and tibial bone bruise in the first minute of a Feb. 28 game against the Wizards in Washington.

“When you get banged up in that area, it’s going to take some time for you, mentally, to feel like everything is all right,” he said. “Today was one of those days where I went out there and played and practiced with the guys and I felt normal. I’ve been waiting for that feeling for a couple weeks.”

Durant returns with three games remaining in the regular season, and the playoffs looming next weekend.

“It’s great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s perfect for him to get three games before the playoffs start, to get his conditioning, his timing and his rhythm. It’s good for our team because we can blend rest and rhythm.”

The team’s training staff and coaches will monitor Durant, but there is no plan for a firm restriction on playing time.

“He’s healed,” Kerr said. “His ligament is healed. So it’s really just about monitoring how he feels. If he gets fatigued, I’m going to take him out. So I don’t really have a number on the minutes played that I’m looking at.”

Durant looked frisky during his post-practice session on Friday, raining pull-up jump shots, shooting 3-pointers from all around the arc and soaring in for dunks. He did wear a brace and says he has not decided whether to wear one Saturday night.

“I’m just going to go out there and be me,” he said. “I can’t think about how I’ll feel, because I’ll end up holding back. I just want to go out there full throttle and see what happens.”

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss


Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.

Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings


Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings

OAKLAND -- Omri Casspi sustained a sprained right ankle with 9:00 left in the second quarter of the Warriors-Kings game Friday night and did not return.

After dropping in a short hook shot with 9:04 left in the quarter, Casspi landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle and dropping to the floor clutching his lower leg. Down for a couple minutes, he eventually got up and limped into the locker room, accompanied by physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane.

Casspi played six minutes off the bench, producing 6 points, one assist and one rebound against his former team.

He joins Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Pat McCaw and Klay Thompson on the sideline.