OAKLAND, California—DeMarcus Cousins provided an emphatic dunk that might have been the timeliest play of the night and ignited the fiery big man’s new home crowd. Klay Thompson’s steady hand did much of the rest in a strange game when it took Stephen Curry more than three-and-a-half quarters to finally make a basket.
Thompson returned from a one-game absence with an illness to score 28 points and light up the Lakers for the second time in 13 days, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 115-101 victory on Saturday over a Los Angeles team again missing LeBron James.
“Luckily the sickness is nearly gone,” Thompson said. “I felt very refreshed.”
Curry missed his first eight shots before a lay-up with 6:20 remaining and still wound up with 14 points, two days after going off for 41 in a loss to the 76ers when he hit 10 three-pointers. The other Warriors picked up the slack.
Andre Iguodala hit a go-ahead three in the final minute of the third, two more early in the fourth as Golden State pulled away and finished with 17 points. Cousins contributed his first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in his second home game and seventh in all since coming back from a nearly yearlong recovery from surgery for a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
Kevin Durant added 21 points and 11 of the Warriors’ 31 assists.
The Lakers hung tough without James just as they did here in a 127-101 victory Christmas night. They lost James in the third quarter of that game to a strained left groin. He returned from a 17-game absence on Thursday night against the Clippers only to sit again on Saturday.
James’s rest was for what Coach Luke Walton called “load management.” The four-time MVP had been set for his second game back but woke up Friday “very sore” after playing 40 minutes in the 123-120 overtime win against the Clippers. He finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
“It took us some time to adjust to what the new game plan was,” Walton said.
Cousins drove for a filthy one-handed slam against Kyle Kuzma at the 5:28 mark of the third then stared him down and trash-talked to pick up a technical.
“I thought his dunk brought the arena to life and brought the team to life,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. “We were searching for energy and emotion up until that point. This was a typical game where you let your guard down a little because the other team’s best player’s not playing, so there was no life in the building and our guys weren’t generating any energy. That play changed all of that.”
Golden State had its 11-game winning streak, longest in the NBA this season, snapped with a 113-104 loss to the 76ers on Thursday night in Cousins’s home debut. The Warriors missed Thompson in that one.
He connected on his first four shots on Saturday with a three and finished 10 for 15.
On January 21 at LA, Thompson tied an NBA record by making his first 10 attempts from three-point range—going 10 for 11 from deep overall and hitting seven in the third quarter—on the way to 44 points in the Warriors’ 130-111 win.
Thompson doesn’t worry a bit about Curry’s shooting touch, impressed at how he keeps firing.
“The man is not immune from an off night, even though it’s very, very rare,” Thompson said. “Even when he’s 0 for 8 he’s going to have that gunner mentality, and I think he’s earned that over his career.” AP
Image credits: AP