Quinn Cook

Warriors' DeMarcus Cousins nearing 'finish line' of Achilles rehab

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USATSI

Warriors' DeMarcus Cousins nearing 'finish line' of Achilles rehab

OAKLAND – DeMarcus Cousins has entered the anxious stage of his rehabilitation, which means he so badly wants it to end that he is scrimmaging as often as he can, for as long as he can, because he can sense his Warriors debut is near.

“We’re nearing the finish line,” general manager Bob Myers said on Monday.

Nothing changed on Wednesday, when the Warriors went through their first practice of 2019. Cousins, in the final stages of rehab from Achilles’ tendon surgery 11 months ago, did everything his teammates did.

“He’s starting to feel the finish line getting closer and closer,” teammate Quinn Cook said after the session.

Coach Steve Kerr, however, downshifted a bit on the 6-foot-11, 260-pound center.

“I don’t know exactly when he’s going to play,” he said, “but he practiced fully today and he’s got to continue to work on his conditioning.”

[RELATED: Alfonzo McKinnie on how he distracted himself from Patrick McCaw situation]

In the final stages of rehab from Achilles tendon surgery, Cousins is so eager to play that, according to team sources, he wants to bypass some of the physical drudgery required for clearance. His performances in scrimmages have been uneven enough for the Warriors to wonder if he’s bored with the rehab routine, or needs more time.

That’s where Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine comes in. He received lavish praise since arriving last summer and his most valuable current project is to prepare Cousins for NBA activity. There are times when it goes well, and there are times when it is challenging.

“I’ve got to feel good about putting him on the floor, DeMarcus has to feel good about being on the floor and Rick has to feel good about his safety, going on the floor and not reinjuring himself,” Kerr said.

Listening to coaches and teammates, as well as Myers, it’s likely that, barring a physical setback, Cousins will be cleared sometime this month. The coaching staff is starting to prepare for him to get back on the floor.

“We don’t have a ton of new plays for him,” Kerr said. “We have a few plays that we’ll have for him, for sure, but he’s got to come in and fit with us more than vice versa. I don’t think that will be a problem, because he’s very skilled. He can shoot threes and he’s a good passer, so we’ll try to put him in position to accentuate his skills. And then he’s got to adapt to the players around him.

“It’ll take some time, but I don’t feel like we have to change our offense to fit him in.”

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 115-105 win over Trail Blazers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 115-105 win over Trail Blazers

BOX SCORE

The Warriors rediscovered their shooting touch Saturday night and it paved the way a 115-105 victory over the Trail Blazers at Moda Center in Portland.

After shooting 42.5 percent in a loss to the Blazers on Thursday in Oakland, the Warriors torched the nets at a 49.4-percent clip. Four players scored in double figures, led by 32 points from Klay Thompson.

The Warriors (24-13) prevailed despite losing Andre Iguodala to an ejection at the end of the first half. By throwing the ball into the stands with force after the halftime buzzer, Iguodala was guilty of a “hostile act” according to the officiating crew.

Here are three takeaways from a win that gave the Warriors a split of their games with the Blazers this week.

The return of Klay Thompson

The Warriors have been patiently awaiting the return of the Klay Thompson they’ve known for seven years. He arrived on Saturday.

Thompson’s 32 points came on 12-of-21 shooting from the field, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He was plus-1 over 34 minutes.

Thompson had averaged 12.3 points, on 30.9-percent shooting, including 17.9 percent from deep, over the previous five games. This was Thompson’s first 30-point game this month, and the first time since Nov. 23 against Portland that Thompson shot more than 50 percent from the field.

Thompson went home – his family lived in the Portland area until Klay was 13 – and found his shot. When he is this efficient, it’s tough for any team to beat the Warriors.

[RELATED: Patrick McCaw's absence foils Warriors' plan for infusion of youth]

Good defense, better offense

The Warriors didn’t play defense quite as well as they did on Thursday, when Portland shot 36.2 percent, but holding the Blazers to 42.9 percent did the trick.

On offense, though, the Warriors utterly sparkled, particularly from deep. After going on 13-of-44 (29.5 percent) on Thursday, they went 12-of-25 (48 percent) on Saturday.

They used Kevon Looney, with nine first-quarter points, to soften the Portland defense, and then Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Thompson took over.

Curry scored 25 points on 6-of-15 shooting (2-of-8 from deep) but made 11-of-14 from the line. He was plus-10 over 36 minutes.

Durant finished with 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting but missed his only 3-point attempt. He was plus-3 over 34 minutes.

[RELATED: Steph Curry keeps promise to 9-year-old fan just in time for Christmas]

The rotation expands

After utilizing an eight-man rotation for all but a few minutes on Thursday, coach Steve Kerr followed through on his plan to go deeper into the bench for the rematch.

Eleven different Warriors played at least seven minutes.

Quinn Cook played 12 minutes Saturday after playing three minutes against the Blazers on Thursday. He played nine minutes total over the five previous games.

Alfonzo McKinnie, who also played three minutes on Thursday, was on the floor for 13. And Jordan Bell, who played 55 seconds on Thursday and 11 minutes in the four previous games, put in seven minutes.

Cook was particularly effective, making a pair of 3-pointers and grabbing three rebounds.

This was Kerr going back to his “Strength In Numbers” credo. It doesn’t always work, but it did in this game.

Warriors Under Review: Defense leads the way in comeback win vs. Kings

Warriors Under Review: Defense leads the way in comeback win vs. Kings

There was not an empty seat inside Golden 1 Center at tipoff Friday night for a matchup between the Warriors and Kings. In the final minutes, most every seat was vacant.

All but a few among the 17,583 in attendance were off the edge of their seats, standing and cheering and enjoying -- or agonizing.

This carnival ride of a game deserved that acclaim. Over the last 12 minutes, the Warriors had it. The Kings took it back. The Warriors reclaimed it. The Kings snatched it yet again before, finally, the Warriors came back one final time for a 130-125 victory.

It was a win to savor and a loss to remember. We take a deeper look at the positives and negatives in Warriors Under Review:

POSITIVE

Defense arrives on demand

With Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the floor to open the fourth quarter, a six-point lead became a seven-point deficit in about three minutes. With the starters back -- Green left but returned -- for the final 5:11, the Warriors outscored the Kings 17-4 by forcing two turnovers (both Stephen Curry steals) and limiting them to 1-of-8 shooting from the field.

When the Warriors realized victory would require five brilliant minutes of defense, Green led the way as they dug in and found it.

[RELATED: Why Warriors-Kings rivalry seems ready to take off]

POSITIVE

They owned the glass

The Warriors outrebounded Sacramento 60-42. All five starters attacked the glass and grabbed at least eight rebounds, topped by Green’s game-high 14. Thompson pulled a season-high nine. Alfonzo McKinnie came off the bench to snag eight, half of them on the offensive end to aid an 18-9 advantage in second-chance points.

On a night when they hurt themselves with damaging turnovers – 18, leading to 25 Sacramento points – the Warriors found the surest path to offset it.

NEGATIVE

Thompson’s shot selection

This was another of those nights when Thompson -- unquestionably a great shooter -- took too many quick or contested shots. Prior to draining a huge 3-pointer to give the Warriors the lead with 39.6 seconds remaining, he was 0-5 in the quarter and 9-of-26 in the game. Finishing with 27 points on 10-of-27 shooting, he missed nearly as many shots as Kevin Durant (33 points on 9-of-20 shooting, 4-of-8 in the fourth) attempted.

With Thompson’s shooting percentages down across the board, in a contract year, he couldn’t pick a worse time to lead the NBA in field goal attempts.

POSITIVE

Looney held up well

Given the sprinter’s pace the Kings prefer, there was legitimate concern about Kevon Looney’s ability to log heavy minutes. Speed is not among the undersized center’s assets. But he was effective over 28 minutes, one off his season-high, with 10 points (5-of-5 shooting), eight rebounds and three assists to finish plus-19.

Looney had a couple rough games against the top-tier centers of Toronto and Minnesota. He bounced back nicely.

NEGATIVE

A night for the bench to forget

With veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston both out, the bench was predictably unsteady and uneven. Quinn Cook, needed as a shooter and playmaker, was bad on offense and worse on defense. Jonas Jerebko, affected by questionable foul calls, was unusually passive and grabbed only one rebound in 24 minutes, his lowest total in a month. McKinnie offered rebounding and not much else. Jordan Bell, whose speed was desirable, played 10 minutes without positive impact.

The reserves will be better, certainly with Iguodala and/or Livingston returning, but this was a game they should throw into the trash bin.