UPTOWN CHARLOTTE – No Stephen Curry, no Draymond Green, no problem for the visiting Golden State Warriors Wednesday night at Spectrum Center.
Before a sellout crowd of 19,334, – many who came to see Curry for his annual homecoming game in the Queen City – Kevin Durant had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to pace the defending NBA world champion Warriors (20-6) to a 101-87 victory over the host Charlotte Hornets.
It was Durant’s first triple-double of the season and his second since joining the Warriors.
“It’s fun when you get to create and just be creative out there, whether it’s passing to JaVale [McGee] for a lob or shooting a pull-up jump shot,” said Durant who was the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player. “Tonight, it felt like I could go in my bag of tools, my bag of tricks, to pull some stuff out. I don’t expect it to be like that every single game, but tonight I thought it called for it and we set the tone early and after that I didn’t have to handle the ball as much on the floor.”
Klay Thompson scored seven of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for the Warriors, who have won five straight overall and seven in a row against the Hornets (9-14).
Duke product Quinn Cook, who was recently promoted from the G-league, added eight points, dished out three assists pulled down three rebounds starting alongside Thomson in the Golden State backcourt.
Curry will be sidelined for about two weeks with a sprained ankle, while Green is nursing a sore shoulder.
For Charlotte, which shot just 35 per cent (34-of-97) from the floor, point-guard Kemba Walker had a team-high 24 points, pulled down six rebounds and dished out five assists.
Nic Batum scored 15 points grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and had two steals for the Hornets while Dwight Howard added 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
The Hornets found out earlier in the day that head coach Steve Clifford will be away from the team for an undetermined period of time to deal with a “health issue.” Associate head coach Stephen Silas, who filled in for Clifford Monday night against Orlando, will coach the team for the foreseeable future.
The Hornets will be in action next when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Spectrum Center.
The Warriors will also be in action again on Friday night when they visit the Pistons in Detroit.
After scoring only two points in the first quarter Walkerfinished the game with his team-high 24 points.
Howard had six defensive rebounds tonightgiving him 8,893 career defensive rebounds which moves him into ninth place on the NBA’s all-time leader board (Shaquille O’Neal: 8,890)
Charlotte had 14 offensive rebounds compared to eight for Golden State leading to a 15-2 second chance points margin in favor of the Hornets.
TheWarriorsattempted just 13 free throws on the night. The lowest number of free throws attempted by a Hornets opponent this season is 11 at Toronto on 11/29.
Walker’s24 points give him his 13th 20-point game this season and 201st of his career.
TheHornets, which trailed 53-38 at halftime, outscored the Warriors 30-26 in the third quarter.
Durant’s16 first-quarter points are the most points he has scored in a single quarter this season. His previous high was 15 point at San Antonio on 11/2.
The Hornets lost two big men off the bench as Frank Kaminsky left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and Cody Zeller left in the fourth with a strained left knee. Neither returned to the game and Kaminsky left the arena in a walking boot.
STEPHEN SILAS – HORNETS ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH
On tonight’s game:
“Even without those other guys, they’re still pretty good. Obviously with Kevin Durant and Clay it was hard to stop those guys tonight. I thought we started the game out pretty slow. At the beginning of the second quarter we weren’t getting the ball moving offensively and playing with the right pace. We finally got it going a little bit at the end of the second quarter with some pace. Kemba was penetrating and the ball was moving a lot better. That carried on in the third and fourth quarter. Those guys made big plays down in the stretch but to hold that team to 101 points isn’t all bad.”
On if he’s concerned about the team’s offense:
“This game is a little bit different I think, just because of their length and their ability to switch. They’re so interchangeable defensively so getting the ball to the paint and using your next action, whether it’s a pick and roll or a dribble handoff, they’re going to just switch and you’re still going to be perimeter. There’s definitely a little concern but this team is hard to gauge off of because of the way they defend and how long they are.”
On injuries to Cody and Frank:
“I don’t know. Hopefully those guys will be okay because we got some home games coming up and we’ll need them. I thought it was pretty bad but then he jumped up and got a dunk but then he limped after that so we’ll see.”
On Treveon Graham:
“He was good. Frank went down and Tre stepped in there. He was able to guard Durant a little bit, Clay Thompson and Iguodala some. He tried his heart out and the thing about Tre is he always stays ready and in his routine. He’s just a great worker super smart. He’s going to give his all and he’s also not a mistake maker which is something that is needed off the bench.”
STEVE KERR – WARRIORS HEAD COACH
On the keys to winning tonight’s game:
“Defense was a key. We held them to 35% shooting and that set the tone right from the beginning. Our first quarter defense was great and we relied heavily on KD (Kevin Durant); He had a triple double and 35 points. What a luxury to be able to just throw him the ball with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out. KD (Kevin Durant) took over but as a team we did a nice job of defending and getting us off to a good start.”
On how well Kevin Durant adjusted to taking the lead
“It was not really scripted, it was more of naturally how things were going to go with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out and Andre Iguodala coming off the bench. KD, is naturally going to get the ball. I just liked his pace and his energy. He was attacking from the start which was great.”
On Quinn Cook
“Quinn was fantastic. I knew Quinn would play well. He is a NBA player, he’s played a lot of minutes for New Orleans last year and we have watched him in practice in the G league. I think Aaron Miles and his staff has done a great job down there. We have a lot of synergy between the franchises and we run the same stuff, so Quinn knows all of the plays. It’s an important addition to our franchise to really develop that relationship between the two teams.”
MARVIN WILLIAMS – HORNETS FORWARD
On what makes Golden State difficult:
“For one, they are long, they are super long. One through five, they have the ability to play and the ability to guard their positions. They do a ton of switching. They have a lot of guys that can guard one through five. I think that’s where they make it difficult on other teams. That’s where we struggled.”
On the team’s defense:
“Obviously they are different team without Steph [Stephen Curry]. The guys that did play, we did a pretty solid job. We knew [Kevin] Durant was going to take a lot of shots. Obviously he’s a great shot maker. Klay [Thompson] does what he does every single night for those guys. We had a couple of miscues on the defensive end I think that they took advantage of, but for the most part to hold those guys to what we did, I feel like an okay job. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hoop.”
On their play in transition:
“It’s a little tough when you are taking the ball out of the net every time. You have to get stops to get out and run a little bit. Even when they do make it, you can still get the ball out of bounds with pace and try to get the ball back up the floor. We didn’t do the best job of that in the first half. I think we did a little better job in the second half.”
JEREMY LAMB – HORNETS GUARD
On facing the Warriors’ defense:
“There a good defensive team. I feel like we missed a lot of easy shots. I know I did. I missed wide open shots. Missed a lot of easy shots. So again, they’re long inside, they contest a lot of shots. Like I said they’re a great defensive team. But I feel like tonight, we missed a lot of shots like I said. I know I did.”
On the focus going in to tonight’s game:
“Just playing hard, trying to make it tough on them. Try to take away the easy baskets. You know we played solid defensively we just – I don’t know – we just didn’t have enough people knocking down enough shots, including myself.”
On Treveon’s performance after Frank Kaminsky went out:
“He played great. He hasn’t played in a while, he stepped in and played great. That’s all you can ask.”
NICOLAS BATUM – HORNETS GUARD
On Warriors small lineup:
“They’re long. You say it’s a small lineup but KD [Kevin Durant] is seven-foot and [Andre] Iguodala is 6-8 or 6-9 and Klay is 6-7. They’re pretty big and they switch everything and they disrupt you a lot and we didn’t have a good shooting nighttonight.”
On playing Warriors without Curry:
“They’ve got KD [Kevin Durant]. KD had a triple-double, I just saw that. Klay [Thompson] had a good game, they have a good coach, other guys step up. [Andre] Iguodala was good. KD was amazing.”
On missing easy baskets:
“That’s a great question. Easy baskets, you have to make those of course. I can’t really answer that question.”
WARRIORS FORWARD KEVIN DURANT
On losing Zaza early in the game:
“When Zaza [Pachulia] went out, that was tough to see, especially with Draymond [Green] and Steph [Curry] out and then to have another starter out. Everybody just rallied around it from the coaches to the players to the trainers, everybody it felt like. Everybody was encouraging on the bench, Coach [Steve Kerr] coached us up really well every possession, defense was on point tonight and we got off to a good start.”
On the defense turning into offense:
“If we get a rebound Coach always says just kick it ahead or throw it up and let’s get in transition and a lot of guys were looking for me once we got rebounds. I wouldn’t be able to get the ball in the pick-and-roll or play in the open court if it wasn’t for the defense we were playing. Everybody from one to five did a great job tonight defensive rebounding and we were able to get out and have some numbers on the other end. We played a solid game.”
QUINN COOK – WARRIORS GUARD
On the team coming together after the injuries:
“Next man up. We take pride in our depth. You know, everybody can play extended minutes. When Zaza went down, obviously another guy had to step up.so I think everybody contributed to the win.”
On his nerves:
“As soon as I touched the ball, as soon as Zaza [Pachulia] tipped it to me I gave it to KD [Kevin Durant]. It felt like basketball. Me and my teammates and my coaches did a great job keeping me even keel all day and just treating it like another regular game.”
On getting the start:
“No, because I know my role. I know the situation I’m in. I had a conversation with Bob [Myers] and Coach Kerr – you know – before the season started so I kind of – when stuff goes on, never be overwhelmed, just the role I’m in.”