One day after the league had the Warriors heated with their “hot-stove” explanation for the calls in the Minnesota game, Golden State was just as hot on the court Sunday evening.
There was zero chance for any official’s call to have an effect on the outcome as they cruised to a 137-90 win over the visiting Charlotte Hornets.
Cousins was on his way to a dominating night with eight points, three boards, two assists and three blocks in just 11 minutes.
But thanks to the efforts of the rest of the team, Cousins’ fellow starters also had an early night, as they got the entire fourth quarter off.
Golden State (52-24) shot a blistering 60 percent from the field and an insane 63 percent from deep.
Stephen Curry said that once a couple possessions create good shots, they always seem to lead to a bunch more:
“When you create good shots early in the game it starts to have a snowball effect for sure. Confidence goes up. It almost feeds upon itself, good possession, after good possession, after good possession.”
Kevin Durant had himself a perfect night from the field with 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and tied for the team lead with nine assists. Draymond Green also had nine assists, while showing off his stroke from downtown, hitting two corner 3’s.
Green is usually the team’s lead distributor, though he’s been joined recently by Durant, who has seemed content to rack up assists while shooting the ball less.
Steve Kerr said that the assist numbers — 41 on the night for Golden State — are indicative of how this team plays:
“That’s just the way we play, the ball moves. We rarely have a guy who has 15 assists, we almost always have our assists spread around because we have so many play makers. And when they share the ball like they did tonight, it’s really pretty to watch. I thought Kevin set a great tone for us, distributing and getting us going.”
Over Durant’s last four games he’s averaging 7.8 assists while getting up just 11.5 shots a game.
And if you take away the Minnesota game when he went 8-of-22, Durant has missed only two shots the other three games. Two. He’s 22-of-24 from the field in that span.
Curry said that when the team is clicking, it’s easier to forget about how many shots you’re getting:
“I know it’s kind of a short window, but there’s a pattern of KD picking and choosing his spots and being a true play maker. And tonight the flow kind of let the game dictate that. Obviously when you’re scoring like we were tonight, it’s fun for everybody, no matter who’s finishing the possession.”
Klay Thompson and Curry have been the beneficiaries of Durant being more of a distributor, and that continued Sunday. Thompson went for 24 points, while Curry poured in 25 to lead the team. Most of those came early.
The duo combined for 19 of the Warriors first 21 points as the starters set the tone early and raced out to an early lead—which they would never relinquish.
It wasn’t just the offense though, as Thompson and the rest of the defense clamped All-Star Kemba Walker, who is essentially Charlotte’s whole offense.
Walker finished just 4-of-14 from the field for nine points. It was the first time he’s been held to single digit points since December 15.
While the starters led the way early, the bench expanded the lead late. Quinn Cook had what might have been his best night of the season, scoring 21 points with five shots from deep.
He looked like the player he was last year, shooting the 3 with confidence and being that explosive scorer off the bench that the Warriors have sorely needed all season.
It’s been a nice recent stretch for Cook who had actually hit seven straight 3’s in a span of his last four games after struggling for much of the year.
Kerr said that being in Cook’s role isn’t easy:
“It’s a little trickier for Quinn than it is for Steph and Klay because when you don’t play a lot of minutes each shot takes on more significance. And he went through a stretch where he wasn’t playing that much… You go 1-for-3 five straight games or 0-for-2 and you’re like ‘man I’m in a horrible slump.’ That’s like one quarter for Steph or Klay, but when you don’t play a whole lot, each shot takes on too much meaning.”
And with the NBA playoffs rapidly approaching, getting all their weapons going just makes this team even more dangerous.
The Warriors have entered their final home stretch of the season, and the last at Oracle Arena. Next up is a battle of the top two teams in the West, when the Denver Nuggets come to town Tuesday, in a game that will likely decide who gets the one seed.
After a rare loss at home to the lottery-bound Washington Wizards Sunday, Denver (51-25) sits one game back of Golden State with both teams having six games remaining. For Denver, five of those six are against Western Conference playoff teams, while the Warriors have just one after Denver, the Clippers, next Sunday night in the final regular season game ever at Oracle Arena.
And with a win Tuesday the Warriors would also own the tiebreaker, all of which puts them in prime position to go into the playoffs with home court advantage up to the NBA Finals.
The Warriors scored 32 or more points in each quarter and also recorded its 15th 70-point half of the season with 71 in the first half. … With the win, the team clinched it’s fifth straight Pacific Division. Before this stretch, the franchise had just two Division titles in the previous 48 years.