With Draymond Green, the spine of the defense, completely out of the mix, the Warriors strolled into Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday and quickly extinguished any hope of an upset.
The Indiana Pacers, with an impressive 32-16 record but without All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, hung around for a few minutes. And then, halfway through the first quarter, the Warriors got serious and sprinted to a 132-100 victory.
That’s 11 consecutive wins for the defending champs, with no end in sight.
Here are some of the positives and a sprinkle of negative from the game that concluded a 5-0 road trip:
Boogie survives scary moment
With 7:35 left in the first quarter, everybody associated with the Warriors held their breath. Hit from behind while airborne (by Pacers big man Myles Turner), DeMarcus Cousins landed hard, with his left foot/ankle taking the brunt. Five games into his comeback from a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon, he was on the floor, writhing in pain. He got up. He stayed in. Made two free throws. Played another 20 minutes and finished with a season-high 22 points, along with six rebounds and four assists.
Coach Steve Kerr said Cousins was “sore.” It’s too soon to know if he’ll be available Thursday. It’s not to soon to realize as bad as it looked, it could’ve been worse.
Mr. Curry averts disaster
For the second time in a week, Stephen Curry slipped and fell on the court. It happened last week in Los Angeles and again Monday in Indy. Celebrating a thunderous second-quarter dunk by Klay Thompson, Curry leapt off the bench, dropped his warmup jacket and, trying to sprint a few steps, tripped over it and landed hard. Hopes for the season hung in the balance for a few precious seconds before Curry got up.
Steph TOO HYPE for Klay’s dunk 😂 pic.twitter.com/HzHgSlZyEU— NBCSAuthentic (@NBCSAuthentic) January 29, 2019
He entered the game four minutes later and promptly scored 13 points in the quarter. What could have been disastrous ended with a collective sigh and smile.
The joy of Mr. Adams
Assistant coach Ron Adams lives for inspired defense and is miserable when he doesn’t see it. He seeks perfection, but settles for effort. He loved the first quarter, when the Warriors forced five turnovers (getting four steals along the way) while limiting the Pacers to 35-percent shooting. Indiana shot 43.2 percent for the game, the sixth opponent to shoot less than 45 percent during the 11-game win streak.
The Warriors are playing the best defense in the league. This makes Adams happy.
Mr. Durant’s shooting
The oddest sight of the night was that of Kevin Durant struggling to make shots that he usually swishes blindfolded. He took 21 shots and missed 14. His makes were three dunks, a six-footer, a nine-footer, a 14-footer and a 29-foot 3-pointer. Everything else to was too long, too short, off left or off right. It has been nearly two months since Durant shot less than 33.3 percent in a game. He had scored at least 20 points in 22 consecutive games before finishing with 17.
Though Durant couldn’t care less about the streak, it is strange to see one of the most efficient scoring machines in NBA history failing at the thing he does best.
Mr. Looney’s stock continues to rise
After spending last season finding his place in the NBA, Kevon Looney is using this season to show why he has a home in the league. Upon becoming an unrestricted free agent last July, he got no love on the market. He came back to the Warriors on a minimum deal ($1.57 million). He’s not fluid, but he is profoundly effective on both ends. In 18 minutes, he had 15 points (6-of-7 shooting), five rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. He was plus-18. This is becoming 'Typical Looney'.
Looney has come a long way from the guy whose career was in question. He’s a solid rotation player who will command a salary well beyond his current $1.57 million.