BY MARKO UKALOVIC
With no Stephen Curry (groin strain) or Draymond Green (toe injury) in the lineup, The Golden State Warriors relied on All-Star Kevin Durant and back up point guard Quentin Cook to lead the way past the Brooklyn Nets 116-100 in a rebound win on Saturday evening at Oracle Arena. The loss snapped Brooklyn’s three-game winning streak.
Durant finished with 28 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds while Cook chipped in with 27 points on 11-16 shooting including 3-5 on 3-pointers in 30 minutes of action.
Jonas Jerebko made his first start of the season in place of Green (who missed his second straight game) and Cook substituted for Curry. Golden State (11-2) got off to a slow start as Nets guard D’Angelo Russell scored the first five points of the game and 10 in the quarter. Durant played the entire first quarter, that included a Klay Thompson technical foul two and half minutes into the game, carrying the Warriors with 13 points and 5 assists. The Warriors finished the quarter on a 12-6 run and led 36-30 when the dust settled after the first 12 minutes.
The Nets (6-7) Joe Harris opened up the second quarter with two straight three pointers to keep the score close and had 12 points in the quarter. However, Cook, who shot 7 for 7 in the first half, heated up as he scored 10 of his first half 19 points in the second frame to help open up a 65-53 lead for the Warriors at halftime. Thompson also rebounded from a lackluster first quarter scoring 8 points.
“It never changes, it stays the same everyday”, said head coach Steve Kerr on Cook’s preparation. “He stays with it every day, puts his work in. He’s always ready.”
The Warriors opened the second half of the game with eight straight missed shots and a turnover. Yet the Nets weren’t able to capitalize with their own poor shooting on the other end of the floor. This allowed the Golden State to take over the game in the third quarter as they outscored Brooklyn 29-21 to take a commanding 94-74 lead entering the fourth quarter. Thompson had seven of his 24 points in the third quarter.
“Playing with two superstars in Klay (Thompson) and Kevin (Durant) we’re all going to have open looks”, said Cook. “I found that out last year. Those guys demand so much attention (from the opposing team) and you gotta be ready always. The role players always have to be ready to play with those guys and they always make the right play. It was just great to play with guys like that.”
With the Warriors comfortable lead, Kerr was able to rest his starters as Durant sat the entire quarter. All 12 players, including Jacob Evans who just recalled up from Santa Cruz, played at least four minutes during the game.
Overall, Golden State shot 55.4% from the field while holding Brooklyn to just 46.8%. The Nets bench outscored the Warriors bench 49-18. The Warriors finished the game with a team total of 27 assists and had only 10 turnovers in the game, their second lowest total of the season. The Warriors finished 7-16 from beyond the arc while Brooklyn went 7-24.
“It’s no surprise to me that he can do this”, said Durant regarding Cook’s performance. “I just want him to keep working, keep being a great teammate. We’re not expecting him to come out here and lead us in scoring. The way he controlled the game, the way he made shots, the way he was aggressive. We’re going to need that every night.”
After a quick trip to Staples Center to play the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, the Warriors will return to the Oracle floor to face the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night.
Kerr on the progress of Curry’s injury. “I saw him this morning and he’s feeling better. He had better mobility and less pain which is a good sign. At this point I have no idea (when he will return). I’ll let you know tomorrow”
The Warriors are 51-12 in games following a loss and are 106-20 against the Eastern Conference dating back to the 2014-15 season. This was their eighth consecutive win over Brooklyn.
This marked the second time this season Golden State had three 20-point scorers in the same contest with Kevin Durant (28), Quinn Cook (27) and Klay Thompson (24) all recording 20-plus points.
Marcus Derrickson made his first-career NBA appearance, posting two points and one rebound in six minutes of play.