For Warriors, Klay is back — and soon Cousins will be too
OAKLAND, Calif. — It was a night when the Warriors remembered what they had — not that anyone would have been irreverent enough to forget — and also learned what they soon would have.
Those two items, wrapped around a rout of the downtrodden New York Knicks, had some of them tossing out asides the way they might toss up a jump shot.
From out of the past — well, two plus months ago, October 29, when he scored 52 points at Chicago — stepped Klay Thompson, who on Monday had 43 points in helping the Dubs beat the Knicks, 122-95.
If you have paid attention, and Thompson didn’t, his shooting was not what the fans and media wanted of late. To which after his performance against New York, Steph Curry, similarly quizzed when virtually every ball doesn’t go through the net, said, ‘It’s a good thing it’s Klay Thompson having to deal with that, because he’s the best at it.”
Meaning? Thompson ignores the noise and takes his bulldog for a walk down by the bay.
And into the future, supposedly January 18 from the latest reports, DeMarcus Cousins, out nearly a year — he tore his left Achilles on Jan. 26, 2018, while with New Orleans, is to play for the first time as a Warrior.
“There’s going to be some fun moments out there,” prophesized Curry. “For him, obviously after missing that much time, he’s going to be excited out there. And his first couple games, who knows how it will go? I think with the collective IQ we have in our locker room, and just understanding the selfishness around what we do, we’ll be able to figure it out.”
What Warriors coach Steve Kerr figured out was at the halfway point of the season it was time for the team to get its defense together, which it did, although since the opponent was the Knicks some perspective may be required. New York came in with a 10-30 record and came without three of its better players, Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson, all injured. “I think we benefitted from the road trip New York is on right now,” Kerr said. “I think they’ve been on the road 15 days.”
That’s the NBA, on and off jets, on and off hardwood floors.
“I think they ran out of gas,” said Kerr, after the Knicks briefly took the lead in the second quarter, 35-33, and then came to a halt. “But with that said, I thought we had some really good moments defensively too.”
They weren’t bad on offense either, making more than half their field goal attempts — 49 of 96, 51 percent overall, if only 15 of 45 threes.
Thompson was 18 of 29, 7 of 16 on threes; Kevin Durant had 24, Curry 14. The 11 Warriors who got into the game, including rookie Jacob Evans, all scored.
“I think the last two weeks,” said Curry, who had 14 assists, “we haven’t had our record as great as we want it to be, but we’ve taken strides in achieving those mini goals, and it’s obviously a nice morale boost with that on the horizon, with DeMarcus coming back.”
For the record, the last time the 6-foot-11 Cousins played, the game in which he was injured, he had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. As seemingly everyone knows, he’s called “Boogie,” labeled by an assistant coach at Kentucky the one year Boogie was there.
“He’s been putting in a lot of work,” Durant said of Cousins, “but I don’t really know what to expect in his first game.”
On Thompson’s outburst, Durant said, “It’s good to see Klay knocking down shots for sure, but no one is worried about him. He is Klay, and he’s going to keep shooting.
“It’s not like we look at his hand saying, ‘We missed you.’”
Thompson was more thrilled with the potential return of Cousins than about his own big scoring game.
“He adds a whole new dimension,” Thompson said of Cousins, “especially on the block. People don’t realize how hard it is to come in (and rehab) every day and not see an end point, but just try to work to get healthy. I’ve been blessed to play with him on Team USA and see how good he is.”