That’s what happens when the length of the Warriors’ injury report resembles that of a CVS receipt. But with a makeshift lineup, the Warriors (52-16) were still too much for their Pacific Division rivals, dropping the Lakers (31-37) 117-106.
Head coach Steve Kerr said there was an obvious reason for the win:
“I thought the main thing was that I completely out-coached Luke Walton. But duh, I don’t need to tell you guys that, that was very apparent.”
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, David West and Patrick McCaw were all sidelined Wednesday night. And it actually could have been worse had Andre Iguodala and Jordan Bell weren’t able to make a return to the court.
With all the key pieces missing from the Warriors rotation one would have expected it to be 48 minutes of Kevin Durant against the world. While it was for stretches, Durant finished with 26 points on 19 shots, which is little more than a normal game for him.
Durant said that he’s more comfortable with this type of game:
“I like to pick and choose. I think last game I was trying to shoot just to get us going, well get me going, I was struggling a bit. But tonight I was just trying to pick and choose my shots and play at a calm pace. … I think it was a good balanced night for us.”
Instead, it was the whole roster from top to bottom stepping up their contributions.
All five starters broke double-digits in scoring. Kevon Looney tied a career-high with 11, Nick Young overcame an awful first half to pitch in 18, Quinn Cook set his season-high with 13, and Zaza Pachulia, who returned to the starting lineup, double-doubled with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
It was his second-straight double-double, backing up his 10-point, 11-rebound performance against the Timberwolves on Sunday — and those are his only double-doubles of the season.
Kerr mentioned how enjoyable these games are:
“These games are fun. When guys who don’t ordinarily get to play much when they get a chance and really contribute, it strengthens the team. … These games are good for team morale. Half my career I was 10th or 12th man and didn’t play much, and I could have a night where I got to contribute, it carried me for another month. Everybody needs that, everybody needs to feel the impact they can make.”
It was that across-the-board production that allowed Golden State to not only withstand stretches when Durant was on the bench but actually extended the lead while he was out.
The Lakers had their own injury woes with Kyle Kuzma, Channing Frye, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram all sidelined. And while they got production from their starting five it wasn’t enough to combat the team effort from the Warriors.
This is exactly the type of game that Kerr envisions when he waxes poetically about strength in numbers.
And with all the injuries he may get his wish for an extended period of time. Curry will miss at least the next three games, while Thompson won’t be reevaluated until March 22nd.
Kerr might not outright say he’s excited for the physical embodiment of strength in numbers to continue. But he’s probably thinking it very loudly.
The Sacramento Kings (21-47) will make the short drive down to Oracle Friday to take on the shorthanded Warriors. The Kings’ 21 wins lands them square in the race to the bottom for a better chance at winning the draft lottery.
Stephen Curry turned 30 on Wednesday and joined the team on the bench as he continues to nurse his ankle injury. Curry will miss at least the next three games before being reevaluated.