Rewind: Durant, Looney plug Draymond-sized hole in win over T'Wolves

Rewind: Durant, Looney plug Draymond-sized hole in win over T'Wolves

OAKLAND – It didn’t take long for the Warriors to feel the absence of power forward Draymond Green. About five minutes after tipoff, with a 10-point lead, seams suddenly opened in the defense and the offense hit a rut.

The Timberwolves, perhaps the friskiest young team in the NBA, were taking advantage, needing only four minutes to wipe out the double-digit deficit.

With the score tied 22-22 and 3:40 left in the first quarter, Warriors coach Steve Kerr called a timeout that didn’t help. Minnesota kept at it, going up five at the end of the first quarter and six early in the second before things started to turn.

Though the Warriors, behind Kevin Durant, picked up the pace on offense, it was their defense that ignited the rally that pushed them to a 115-102 victory Saturday night at Oracle Arena.

“Our defense showed up in the first three to four minutes, and we got a nice lead off of that,” Stephen Curry said. “Once the game kind of slowed down, we’re used to having Draymond and his playmaking ability at the top of the key and moving the ball from side to side and having that look. With him out, we had to figure out another way to get the ball moving and not get into too much (one-on-one) early. Make them work. It took us a while.”

The Warriors midway through the second quarter rediscovered their offensive pace but, more important, manufactured the kind of defense that tends to come naturally when Green is on the floor.

Durant was crucial at both ends, making shots and grabbing rebounds and defending, while becoming the first Warriors player to accumulate at least 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots in one game.

“We missed Draymond,” Durant said. “He usually posts seven or eight assists per night and his defensive prowess, just being around the basket, just rebounding and challenging shots. So I just stepped in and tried to play as hard as I could.”

It was enough to give the Warriors (15-2) their 11th consecutive win, tying the fourth-longest streak in franchise history. The bulk of the offense was generated by Curry (34 points) and Durant (28) and Klay Thompson (23), but it was rebounding and defense that kept the Timberwolves at bay.

After 62.5-percent shooting in the first quarter, Minnesota was limited to 40 percent over the final three quarters. That Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns was 2-of-11 from the field over final 36 minutes was partly because of Kevon Looney, who started in place of Green, but mostly the result of getting different looks, highlighted by constant harassment from Durant.

“We knew Loon could do a good job and that he would start on (Towns), but we told Kevin that he would have some minutes on Towns,” Kerr said. “I didn’t say anything else about him having to do this or that. He’s a basketball player. He knows the game, he knows what’s going on and he knows what’s needed from him.”

With Green (ankle contusion) out, along with Ian Clark (throat/neck soreness), the Warriors basically patched up the areas usually covered by Green. It’s a lot of area, as he leads the team in assists, rebounding, blocks and steals. He may have the most unique set of skills in the league.

Durant handled the rebounding, with Curry also plucking eight to tie his season-high. Durant also handled the blocks, nearly doubling the amount he and Green combined to average per game. The steals and assists were group efforts, with nine players recording assists and seven in the steals column.

Looney handled himself well enough in his first NBA start, totaling 6 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 18 minutes.

“Looney was great, gave us the minutes we wanted and played excellent defense,” Kerr said. “He’s just a guy that has a good feel for the game. He’s a good rebounder and understands NBA defense.

“ . . . I would say anytime Draymond is going to miss a game, Looney will start for us at the 4 because we feel very confident in his ability.”

That’s all Kerr and his staff wanted from Looney. Just plug the Draymond hole for a game. It was not the same, and there is no way it would be the same. It doesn’t have to be when everybody pitches in.

Curry's injury all but assures Cook's spot on playoff roster

Curry's injury all but assures Cook's spot on playoff roster

OAKLAND -- Welcome to the NBA playoffs, Quinn Cook.

Any question about whether the Warriors would add Cook to their postseason roster was clarified Saturday when an MRI test on Stephen Curry’s left knee revealed a Grade 2 MCL sprain.

Curry will be reevaluated in three weeks, which coincides with the beginning of the playoffs. It’s conceivable he will be out six weeks, in which case he would miss the entire first round and, should the Warriors advance, part of the second round.

The Warriors wouldn’t dare go into the playoffs with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry for four seasons, as the only designated point guard on the roster.

So the defending champs will turn to Cook, who was waived by lowly Atlanta last Oct. 13, four days later signed a two-way contract with the Warriors, and spent most of the past five months toiling away with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Cook’s value has been rising in recent weeks, though, as he has proved capable of producing at the NBA level. He’s the only member of the Warriors to score in double figures in each of the last five games, averaging 19.8 points, on 55.7-percent shooting, including 50 percent from deep, during that stretch.

He’s not Curry -- nobody is -- but Cook has been a terrific fill-in.

“We all love him,” Kerr said. “He’s a wonderful teammate. He’s not only a hell of a player, but the gets it. He’s a worker. He brings this great life and intelligence to the group, so he’s a big part of what we’re doing.”

Neither Kerr nor general manager Bob Myers has given any indication if they plan to add Cook to the roster. For Cook to be eligible for the postseason, the Warriors must pull him off his two-way deal and sign him to a standard NBA contract by April 11. The playoff roster must be submitted to the league by noon on April 13.

Under no circumstances can Cook be added without one of the 15 players currently under an NBA contact being released.

Meanwhile, Kerr and Myers have given every indication that they love, love, love the way Cook has responded to a need in the absence of Curry.

“He’s been great,” Myers told 95.7 FM The Game this week. “He’s been great all year, with the G-League as well. We actually targeted him as our two-way guys.”

Myers added another line that is significant: “It’s hard to find fault with Quinn as a human being.”

That testimony to Cook’s character matters because the Warriors are big on having players that fit into their culture. Cook, who turned 25 on Friday, has been a seamless fit.

Cook, for his part, credits at least a part of his success to the tutelage of Curry. The two became acquainted back in 2011, when Cook was a freshman at Duke and Seth Curry was a junior. Due to the lockout, the NBA season didn’t start until December, allowing Stephen Curry some time to hang around the college.

“It’s not like you’re always seeking him,” Cook said. “He seeks you. He knows that we all want to learn. He knows that he is where we want to get to, individually.

“When I got here, he took me under his wing. We developed a great relationship before, but now it’s even greater.”

Curry spends time going over game plans with Cook. They talk strategy. It’s an example of Curry’s leadership that he donates himself to a player who was signed mostly to play in the G-League and be available, if needed, for NBA games.

It’s too much to ask Cook to mimic Curry. It’s not too much to believe Cook can help the Warriors in the postseason, even if Curry is healthy.

With Curry out, and Livingston always on a minutes restriction -- any more than the mid-20s is a danger zone -- Cook is essential.

Curry out at least three weeks with Grade 2 MCL sprain

Curry out at least three weeks with Grade 2 MCL sprain

Stephen Curry will be reevaluated in three weeks after an MRI on Saturday revealed that the Warriors point guard suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his left MCL, the Warriors announced on Saturday. 

Curry sprained his left MCL with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter of Friday night's win over the Atlanta Hawks. Teammate JaVale McGee landed awkwardly on the two-time MVP's left leg, and Curry limped to the bench. He then headed to the locker room where he received further treatment, and did not return. 

Curry has missed 21 of the team’s 71 games this season. Before Friday, he missed the previous six games after spraining his right ankle against the San Antonio Spurs on March 2. 

Back-to-back ankle and knee injuries previously dogged Curry in the 2016 postseason. In his first game back from a right ankle sprain in the first round against the Houston Rockets, Curry suffered a Grade 1 right MCL sprain, and missed the next four games.