With head chef Stephen Curry out of action for the Warriors Saturday, it was a cook that took over his usual duties.
Quinn Cook erupted for a season-high 27 points on a blistering 11-of-16 from the field to lead the Golden State (11-2) to a 116-100 drubbing of the Brooklyn Nets (6-7).
Cook has been largely out of the rotation for most of the season, but has actually scored in double-figures in each of his last four games played.
Steve Kerr said it wasn’t a shock to see Cook pour in points:
“We saw some of this last year, he started 18 games and I think he averaged 14 or 15 points during that stretch, had a 30-point game. He’s a great shooter. … We’re not a team with seven or eight 3-point shooters, we have great shooters at the top, but when Steph is out in particular we need that shooting that Quinn can provide, and we want him to be aggressive.”
While much of that scoring has come in extended garbage time, Saturday night’s outburst came at a time when the Warriors needed it most.
Curry is currently day-to-day, while Green is looking probable to play Monday with his foot sprain. Livingston is more up in the air as his right foot has been bothering him since the preseason and has caused him to miss eight games this season already.
But those injuries have been very opportune for Cook.
When Curry went down with his MCL sprain last season, Cook showed his value and staked his claim to a roster spot. And without Curry he shined again.
Cook’s first miss from the field came on a block shot with just six seconds left in the first half. Before that he had started 7-of-7 for 19 points, which was already a season best.
Cook said that the team just instills so much confidence in him, whether he’s making or missing:
“Our guys do a great job of just making you feel important, making you feel apart of the team. Even when you’re not playing, so I felt comfortable out there. … You have to stay ready, we do a good job of playing 3-on-3 full court, so you’re still playing everyday. Obviously it’s not in front of thousands of fans, it’s a different atmosphere when it’s live action, but you’re still getting your reps up.”
He had to up his offensive aggression early as Klay Thompson picked up two fouls and a technical in the first two minutes of game action.
That might have been the best thing that could happen for the Warriors though, as Thompson initiated the offense to start the game with Kevin Durant working off ball.
But when Thompson got in foul trouble that allowed the Warriors to play through Durant and Cook. Durant also had 19 points going into halftime, but he wasn’t just isolating at the top of the circle. He also dimed guys up when the Nets’ defense would collapse.
Kerr said especially with Curry out, Durant is going to have to be in that distributor type of role:
“We’re always going to put the ball in Kevin’s hands if Steph’s out. That’s a no-brainer. Just to facilitate, 11 assists and 9-of-15, kind of a typical Kevin Durant night, very efficient and he enjoys that play-making role.”
He finished with a season-high 11 assists to go with his 28 points.
It was the 14th time in his career he’s put up those numbers, but Durant said it was more about his teammates:
“I think guys made shots tonight. It was more so the shots that were being made than my passes. There were a couple that were low, a couple that were tough ones, but my teammates did a great job of finishing.”
Thompson recovered from his disastrous start to compile another usual Thompson line of 24 points on 11-of-20 from the field.
Jones had a solid showing with eight points on his usual highlight reel dunks, but he also picked up just two fouls — a miniscule amount for the usually foul-prone big man.
And the number of Warriors players in street clothes also allowed Jordan Bell to get his share of minutes despite looking awful against Milwaukee.
Durant said that the difference was Jerebko starting, which allows Bell and Jones to be staggered and that helps everyone:
“Last game it was kind of hard playing with JB and Damian out there because they’re two centers. So the spacing is a little messed up, JB’s role is a little different. … I think coach just made a minor tweak to the lineup and was able to help us all out.”
With Bell being the lone big on the court he looked back to the player we all saw his rookie season. Even showing no hesitation in taking a couple outside jumpers and flying around for a team-high seven rebounds.
He was paired mostly with Kevon Looney, and while he’s not much of an outside shooter either, Looney plays more on the high elbow and perimeter.
That gives Bell more space on the block to move to and makes his reads much easier as the court is more wide open.
Bell and Cook are finally finding their ways after a slow start, and both could be attributed to some key injuries to the Warriors’ stars.
The weakened Warriors looked nothing of the sort, and their injuries may actually be helping them get the role players back into rhythm.
And when you spin your MVP being out injured into something positive — that’s just more bad news for everyone else in the NBA.
After five straight games at Oracle, the Warriors will head out on a quick trip down the coast where they’ll take on the Clippers Monday. They will be back the next day for a quick one game home stop against the Atlanta Hawks before going back out on the road.
Jacob Evans was recalled from the G-League with the Warriors dealing with all their injuries. He played in two games for the Santa Cruz Warriors where he averaged 6.5 points and 3.0 rebounds. Evans has struggled early in his rookie season, playing in just seven games so far and has failed to connect on a single 3-pointer. … Marcus Derrickson made his NBA debut in this game. He broke camp with the Warriors after an impressive Summer League showing and eventually claimed the team’s second two-way contract.