OAKLAND -- The Warriors have a uniquely fortunate situation that perhaps no other NBA team has ever been able to claim: Their third-string point guard is so effective he’ll start over the second-string point guard.
They have that luxury because they were lucky enough to find Quinn Cook 13 months ago and wise enough to sign him to a contract six months after that.
Called upon Saturday to replace Stephen Curry (out with a groin strain), Cook made his first start this season and was crucial to a 116-100 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
“It didn’t shock me,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Cook made his first seven shots in scoring 19 first-half points. He finished with 27, on 11-of-16 shooting and 3 of 5 from deep. The 6-foot Duke product added three rebounds and five assists without committing a turnover.
“It’s no surprise that he can do this,” said Kevin Durant, who has known Cook, a fellow Washington D.C.-area native, for about 12 years.
That Cook was able to play a season-high 30 minutes and finish plus-16 is quite a feat considering he did not leave the bench in three of the last seven games.
“Quinn just thinks he’s supposed to always be ready, no matter what,” Durant said. “He doesn’t feel entitled or feel like he has to play. So when he’s not playing -- obviously, he wants to be out there -- he’s still working on his game. He’s still looking and staying engaged in the game and thinking the game.
“So when his number is called, he’s able to go out there and produce. That’s because of the work he puts in every day.”
When Klay Thompson, having scored 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting, picked up two fouls inside the first six minutes, the scoring lead fell to Durant and Cook. They combined for 22 first-quarter points, with Durant totaling 13 and Cook 9.
When Thompson returned in the second quarter and found his offensive rhythm, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, Cook still managed to drop in 10.
Cook looked comfortable because he is comfortable, after starting 18 games last season and earning his way onto the Warriors.
“Our guys do great job of always making you feel important, making you feel like a part of the team, even when you’re not playing,” Cook said. “When you are playing, they just do a great job of making you feel like a part of the team.”
There is no knowing when Curry will return. It may be a few days, maybe a couple weeks. And even though Curry’s primary backup, Shaun Livingston, is scheduled to return Monday after missing the last seven games, Cook likely will start against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
It’s not that Livingston isn’t capable. He is. But his versatility broadens his role, giving the coaching staff flexibility in using him.
Don’t be surprised if Cook and Livingston are on the court together at times, with Livingston at the point and Cook sliding to shooting guard, where his shooting range allow him to stretch the floor in ways Livingston does not.
“We are not a team that has seven or eight 3-point shooters,” Kerr said. “We have great shooters at the top, but we need, when Steph is out in particular, that shooting Quinn can provide. And we want him to be aggressive.”
Cook is a nice option to turn to at the point. It showed Saturday night.
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