Warriors

DeMarcus Cousins blocks out noise, plays 'complete game' for Warriors

DeMarcus Cousins blocks out noise, plays 'complete game' for Warriors

HOUSTON -- DeMarcus Cousins let out a loud roar moments after hitting a wing jumper over Clint Capela late in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's win over the Rockets

The basket, which clinched a season-high 27 points, pushed Golden State's lead to 13, but, more importantly, signified the latest step in Cousins' journey with the Warriors. 

Since his return more than two months ago from a torn Achilles, Cousins has enjoyed impressive scoring performances, dealt with criticism of his defense and the question of if he'll ever regain his All-Star powers. But with Kevin Durant out with ankle injury, the four-time All-Star provided a positive sign towards his progress and what could be if he's at full strength. 

"He just played one of the most complete games since he's been here," said Klay Thompson, who scored 30 points in the 106-104 victory. "He adds a whole new dimension to our team. You saw what he can do with us tonight." 

With the Rockets playing a switch-heavy defense, Cousins routinely found himself in the post with a guard defending. Beating the obvious mismatch, Cousins feasted, scoring 27 points, adding eight rebounds and seven assists. 

More importantly, against a pick and roll heavy Rockets offense, Cousins was disciplined when switched onto James Harden and Chris Paul. During the first quarter, he routinely contested shots without fouling and even drew a charge on Harden.

"The rhythm was good for me tonight," Cousins said. "I got my feet underneath me and it was a smooth game for me so I can't complain."

Performances like Wednesday's have been hard to come by in recent games. Entering the matchup against Houston, he averaged 12.0 points on just 41 percent from the field, hitting just one 3-pointer. Worse, concerns over his defense began to emerge, despite the teammates and coaches publically defending the former All-Star. 

"I mean it's cool but we've been in this business long enough to know how it goes," Cousins said of the criticism. "I've been around this team long enough to know how things go around here. You're always looking for something to write a story about. I mean I could care less, y'all gotta do y'all job and I gotta do mine. Y'all looking for a story. It is what it is." 

Cousins has had a bit of an adjustment dealing with the intense news cycle that follows the back-to-back champs. During the first 15 years of his basketball life, including high school and college, Cousins never played in media market higher than 20th. 

"It's something every day," Cousins said. "My grandmother, when I was younger, she had this show she used to watch, I'm sure y'all have heard of it: 'As the World Turns.' She called it her 'stories,' I used to watch it with her and every episode it was something. That's what this has turned into."

Does he like the extra attention?

"No, I don't," Cousins deadpanned. "I play basketball. I don't look for drama or stories or anything like that. I just want to go play basketball."

As for his on-court integration with the Warriors, while rapidly improving, there's still work to be done. Throughout the Warriors' four-year run to the Finals, the team has never had a threat as talented as Cousins in the frontcourt - a skilled center who can play back to the basket. With an offense that relies on ball movement, Golden State has to adjust to him as much as he has to adjust to his teammates. With his midseason return being another factor, there's still a ways to go.  

"I think it's coming," Cousins said. "We've had stretches where its kind of flowing for everyone but this is a team that's been together for a while so they play a certain type of way and they're used to playing a certain type of way. So for me to just come in, I'm not expecting it for this team to adjust to me, I have to adjust to them and I'll have my opportunities. All I have to do is take advantage of those opportunities."

[RELATED: Cousins: Dubs had better energy]

"I think we have to remind ourselves that it's still pretty early in the process," head coachSteve Kerr added. "We're all learning ... I have to learn how to use him better. I thought we used him better tonight." 

For now, both the Warriors and Cousins can be happy with the latest step in the Boogie Experience. But with Oklahoma City next on the ledger and no clear date on Durant's return, both sides hope these performances can continue.

"This was a good win for us," Kerr said. "We have 15 games left now to continue to figure out how to use everybody, combinations and all that stuff. This was a good night."

Michael Malone used Clippers' Game 2 win over Warriors to inspire Nuggets

Michael Malone used Clippers' Game 2 win over Warriors to inspire Nuggets

When you're getting your clock cleaned, sometimes you need something to inspire you to keep trying.

On Tuesday night, while his Nuggets were losing big in Game 2 to the Spurs, head coach Michael Malone used the Warriors' Game 2 loss to the Clippers to motivate his team.

"There was a timeout midway through the third quarter, I thought it was a pivotal point in the game," Malone told the media in Denver after the game. "We're down by 16 points and I could see it on some of the guys faces, you know, which way is this game going to go? And I reminded them we have 18 minutes to go. I reminded them what the Clippers did last night and how much basketball was left. It's only going to happen if we believe, we commit and we fight and we attack. And the guys took it to heart and we closed the game out I think on a 57-32 run from that point on."

A night earlier, the Warriors blew a 31-point lead at home against the Clippers, the largest blown lead in NBA playoff history.

As Malone stated, his speech worked. The Nuggets rallied for a 114-105 win to tie the series 1-1.

The Warriors and Nuggets, the top two seeds in the Western Conference, aren't breezing through the first round of the playoffs as expected.

[RELATED: KD, Kerr at odds over star's shooting]

Based on what happened on Monday night, the Warriors may be the ones in need of an inspirational speech.

Is Malone available?

Tim Hardaway, Kevin Durant on same page about Warriors’ game strategy

Tim Hardaway, Kevin Durant on same page about Warriors’ game strategy

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Kevin Durant took just eight shots in the Warriors' Game 2 loss to the Clippers. He did attempt 12 free throws, however, and ended up scoring 21 points. 

"I'm not gonna go out there and just go shoot 20 or 30 shots," he explained to reporters after practice Wednesday. "I don't play like that. Every time I touch it, I'm not gonna just break the play. ... I'm gonna play basketball. We won Game 1 that way. We were up [31] in Game 2."

Durant's and-one dunk with 7:31 left in the third quarter gave the Warriors a 94-63 lead. With Curry on the bench in foul trouble, Golden State did look to run the offense through the reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP.

Things didn't work out as planned on this possession:

But a couple minutes later, Durant was alert and ready to take advantage of a Clippers breakdown:

Shortly thereafter, an aggressive-minded Durant got physical with Patrick Beverley and was whistled for two very questionable offensive fouls. 

During a radio appearance Tuesday, former Golden State point guard Tim Hardaway was asked if the Warriors should have KD try to repeatedly punish the smaller Patrick Beverley on the block.

"As a team, you can't let one player get your team out of sync. You gotta run your offense. You gotta run your offense the way you've been running your offense all year long," the five-time All-Star said. "If you keep posting up Durant -- you're letting the Clippers dictate the game.

"You're telling them we're gonna run a different offense than we normally run. No. Keep running your offense."

Hardaway and Durant are very much on the same page.

"I got a pest, Patrick Beverley, who's up underneath me," KD described. "I could definitely shoot over the top and score every time if it's a 1-on-1 situation. But we got a guy that's dropping and helping, and then we got another guy that's just sitting on me and waiting for me to dribble the basketball. 

"I'm not gonna get in the way of the game because I want to have a little back-and-forth with Patrick Beverley. I'm Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am."

Here's a perfect example of what KD is talking about:

[RELATEDKD, Kerr at odds over how much Warriors star should shoot]

Durant didn't take a shot here, but he certainly wasn't passive or tentative. Just because you only attempt eight field goals doesn't mean you were tentative.

But one thing everybody can agree on is that nine turnovers is way too many.

How will Durant approach Game 3? It's safe to assume he won't be taking advice from Tracy McGrady.

Thursday night can't get here soon enough.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram