Durant, Warriors, send the Hornets down with 101-87 win

Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant reacts to making a dunk against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Golden State Warriors were without Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Patrick McCaw, and saw Zaza Pachulia leave the game early in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.

The Warriors called up Quinn Cook from the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors and Cook made his first start in the NBA. With Pachulia out, head coach Steve Kerr rotated JaVale McGee, David West, Jordan Bell, and Kevon Looney. Kevin Durant had a triple-double (35 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds) to lead the Dubs to a 101-87 win. It was the Dubs’ fifth win in a row on their six-game road trip.

The Warriors held the Hornets to 38 points in the first half as they shot 31% from the floor. Klay Thompson, Nick Young, and Quinn Cook made significant contributions to the Warriors’ attack.

“I knew Quinn would play well,” Kerr said. “He’s played a lot of minutes for New Orleans last year and we have watched him in practice in the G-league…We have a lot of synergy between the franchises and we run the same stuff, so Quinn knows all of the plays.”

The Warriors played from start to finish and refused to let the Hornets climb their way back into the game. The Hornets made a run late in the game, but the Dubs answered the challenge.

“Even without those other guys, they’re still pretty good,” Hornets interim head coach Stephen Silas, who’s leading the team while Steve Clifford is dealing with a health issue. “Obviously with Kevin Durant and Klay (Thompson) it was hard to stop those guys tonight.”

Kevin Durant led by example. Durant scored just 16 points in the first quarter. The Warriors led 26-18 as they held Charlotte to just 31% from the floor. In the second quarter, Thompson, Cook, and young connected on several three-pointers as the Dubs ended the first half with a 53-38 lead. The Dubs had a 26-point lead, but Kemba Walker and the Hornets’ offense got going.

In the second half, David West and JaVale McGee made several key buckets. The Hornets cut the deficit to 11 at the end of the third quarter, but the Warriors played defense in the fourth quarter to put the game in the win column.

Game Notes and Stats — Curry has a sprained ankle and is wearing a boot. He’s going to head home to the Bay Area Thursday and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Green was out with a shoulder injury and it is not known if he will play in Detroit Friday night.

Patrick McCaw was hit on the nose by Demarcus Cousins Monday. McCaw may not be available Friday.

Pachulia injured his shoulder and his status is unknown.

Durant said: “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…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.”

“It wasn’t so much a vocal leadership role, but more of an ‘I got this’ type of thing,’ Kerr said. “It was the way he carried himself. He was clearly the best player on the floor and the dominant player on the floor. Without Steph (Curry), he almost had a different bounce to his step, like `This one is mine, I got it.”

Thompson ended the night with 22 points. Cook tallied eight points, three assists, and three rebounds. Young came off the bench and knocked down 10. Andre Iguodala had eight points and eight boards. David West added six points, four assists, three rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Leading scorers for the Hornets were Kemba Walker with 25, Nick Batum 15, and Dwight Howard with 14.

The Warriors shot 48% from the floor and held Charlotte to just 35% The Dubs knocked down 11 three-point shots and recorded 26 assists. On defense, they had eight steals and 12 blocked shots.

The Warriors finish the six-game road trip in Detroit Friday night. The Pistons beat the Warriors in Oakland early in the season. The Pistons will be trying to sweep the season series. Game time is at 4 pm.

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