Charlotte Hornets

Warriors Under Review: Steph Curry stays hot in rout over Hornets

Warriors Under Review: Steph Curry stays hot in rout over Hornets

OAKLAND - Two nights after the Warriors suffered a bitter, referee-influenced road loss to the Timberwolves, Golden State left no doubt Sunday evening in a 137-90 rout of the Charlotte Hornets. 

The win clinched their fifth-straight Pacific Divison title and gave them a one-game lead of over the Denver Nuggets, who lost to the Washington Wizards on Sunday night. 

Here are the positives and negatives of the blowout. 

Positive 

Quinn got Cookin' 

After toiling the bench for much of the season, Cook turned in his best performance of the season, scoring 13 of his 21 points in the first half, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. 

For much of the season, Cook has tried to capture the magic of last year, when, as a two-way player, he averaged 13 points and 3.4 assists, on 48 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range. After struggling from the 3-point line much of the year, Cook has made 20 of his last 40 treys, including 10 of his last 12. 

If Cook can continue this hot streak, the Warriors depth could be a whole lot better heading into the postseason. 

Positive 

Splash Bros and Co. deliver from deep

The Warriors shot a franchise-best 63.6 percent from 3-point range Sunday evening. 

Klay Thompson scored 24 points on 9-of-16 from the field, including six 3-pointers. Fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry, two nights after hitting 11 treys in Minnesota, poured in 25 points, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. 

Even Draymond Green, who struggled with his shot earlier this season, hit two 3-pointers Sunday night and is shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc over his last nine games. 

[RELATED: Curry makes at least five 3s for eighth straight game]

Positive 

Easy Money Efficiency

Kevin Durant finished with a game-high nine assists, but more impressive was his efficiency from the field, as he scored 11 points on 5-of-5 from the field, making his only 3-pointer of the game. 

Over his last four games, Durant is shooting 65 percent from the field and has more assists (32) than field goals (30)

Negative

Nipsey Hussle's tragic passing

Prior to the game, the Warriors, like the rest of the NBA, were rocked by the news of Hussle's murder in Los Angeles. 

Players were somber in talking about his influence in the locker room and there was no clearer indication of Golden State's love for the fallen rapper than in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game when DJ D Sharp, Oracle Arena's in-house DJ, played Hussle's single, Last Time That I Checc'd, prompting  Green, Durant and Shaun Livingston to dance in Hussle's honor. 

Hip hop lost a star Sunday night, and for the Warriors, the loss hit home. 

Warriors' Quinn Cook finding shooting stroke with NBA playoffs looming

Warriors' Quinn Cook finding shooting stroke with NBA playoffs looming

OAKLAND — It wasn’t long ago that Quinn Cook, paid to score, could not buy a bucket.

The guard often settled for a seat on the bench to watch the shooting pyrotechnics of Warriors teammates Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Yet on Sunday, in the second quarter of a 137-90 rout of the Charlotte Hornets, the roles were reversed. It was Curry, Durant and Thompson taking turns watching from the bench as Cook lit up the scoreboard.

It was impressive enough to earn the Duke product a few extra minutes.

“On a night like tonight, when he was about to come out in the middle of the second quarter and he had the hot hand, it was a group effort to switch the rotation up to help him keep playing,” Curry said. “And he took advantage of it.

“That’s who we are as a team.”

Cook was paired at guard with Thompson at the start of the quarter, and stayed in the game after Durant re-entered three minutes into the quarter. When Curry came in 6:09 before the half, it was not to replace Cook — as usually is the case — but Thompson.

Cook torched the Hornets, scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including 3 of 3 from deep, in less than nine minutes before being replaced by Thompson with 3:18 remaining in the half. 

Coach Steve Kerr and his staff should not have needed much persuasion to keep Cook in the game. They know, after all, that when the NBA postseason begins in 12 days, they’re going to need somebody who can come off the bench and score.

They also know that, given his history, Cook is the lead candidate.

He owns the only 50-40-90 season in G League history. He shot 44.2 percent from deep in 33 NBA games last season, finishing ahead of Thompson (44.0 percent), Curry (42.3) and Durant (41.9).

Yet, for much of this season, Cook’s shot has been arrhythmic, if not invisible, due to long stretches on the bench. Between late January and mid-February, he went two weeks without making a 3 pointer.

After going 8 of 29 beyond the arc in January, Cook dropped off to 2 of 16 in February. It was the worst slump of his brief NBA career.

“It’s a little trickier with Quinn than it is for Steph and Klay because when you don’t play a lot of minutes, each shot takes on more significance,” Kerr said. “He went through a stretch this year where he wasn’t playing much, and I told him I used to play that role many times, many seasons. You go 1 of 3 or 0 of 2 for five straight games, and you’re like, ‘Man, I’m in a horrible slump.’

“That’s like one quarter for Steph or Klay. But when you don’t play a whole lot, each shot takes on too much meaning.”

To his credit, Cook never stopped working. He's always on time, and often staying late, sometimes getting up shots after games.

It’s paying off. He’s 10 of 12 from deep over his last four games, and his percentage for March was an even 50, as he made exactly half of his 40 attempts.

Cook said he simply wanted to stay ready and stay positive. He also cited his interaction with Kerr, who indeed was a bench bomber for most of his career, as being important.

“He’s definitely been there for me,” Cook said. “After games, he’ll shoot me a text or give me a call. He’s a players-first kind of coach. ...

“He’s always believed in me and gave me that confidence. He’s always allowed me to play my game, and he’s always in my ear because, obviously, I want to have a career like he did, known as a winner and playing a lot of years in this league.”

[RELATED: Nipsey Hussle's death hits Warriors hard]

Kerr, as well as Curry and Durant and Thompson, would like to have more deep-shooting production from the bench in the postseason. The Warriors’ bench is 29th in scoring (29.2 points per game) and 29th in 3-point makes (2.8 per game). Some of that is offset by accuracy, as the bench is No. 1 in field-goal percentage (49.7) and No. 2 from deep (36.9).

So Cook’s revival is timely. His minute levels will rise and fall, but he’ll play if his shots are dropping. They’re dropping now, at exactly the right time.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from 137-90 win over Hornets

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from 137-90 win over Hornets

OAKLAND -- Maybe the Warriors' anger in the wake of their bitter overtime loss two nights earlier in Minnesota spilled over into Sunday.

They came after Charlotte quickly and with destructive intentions, and cruised to a 137-90 triumph over the Hornets before a relaxed sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

The win gave the Warriors (52-24) their fifth consecutive Pacific Division title and a one-game lead over the Denver Nuggets, who lost to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, atop the Western Conference standings.

Here are three takeaways from a victory in which every available Warrior played:

Let it rain

When the Warriors are making 3-pointers at a high rate, the opponent, no matter how good, has almost no chance. They shot a franchise-best (for 30 or more attempts) 63.6 percent from deep, with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry leading the way.

Thompson scored 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 6 of 9 from deep. He moved past Rashard Lewis and into 16th place on the NBA's all-time list at 1,788 -- 39 behind Kobe Bryant.

Curry scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. This was his career-high eighth consecutive game with at least five triples.

Draymond Green was 2 of 4 from deep, and is 11 of 24 (45.8 percent) from deep over his last nine games.

The Warriors over the last four games shot a preposterous 51.9 percent from deep -- yet somehow lost at Minnesota on Friday.

[WATCH: DeMarcus Cousins ejected for Flagrant 2]

Point KD

Kevin Durant, one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, continues to flourish in the role of ... point forward, finishing with a game-high-tying nine assists in 27 minutes.

Meanwhile, his scoring efficiency remains rather absurd. He scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including 1 of 1 from deep.

Durant routinely brings the ball up court, motioning teammates into position. It’s clear he is looking to set up others more than get his own shot, which he can do whenever he pleases.

But the most telling stat about the focus of the four-time scoring leader is that over the last four games Durant has more assists (32) than field goals (30).

Cook on fire

Quinn Cook’s shooting slump, which lasted for the better part of two months, definitely is a thing of the past.

[RELATED: Draymond busts Quinn's chops]

The diminutive backup point guard scored 13 of his 21 points in the first half on 5-of-5 shooting, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. After going 10 of 45 from deep over the months of January and February, Cook was 20 of 40 (adjust) in March -- and 10 of 12 over his last four games.

Inasmuch as he is a liability on defense, the only way for Cook to get playing time is with effective scoring. He has found his rhythm, and is rolling toward the end of the regular season.