Warriors look like a more stable family as DeMarcus Cousins finds his form
|Toronto Star 14 Mar 2019 at 14:17|
Through it all, through the boredom of the season, through the odd conflict between players â€” and between players and coaches â€” and through the disappointing losses at home, the Golden State Warriors are still the Golden State Warriors.
When a challenge is presented to them, the Warriors meet it, as they did Wednesday night in Houston.
Reeling from one of their most disappointing losses in years â€” beaten at home by the cellar-dwelling Phoenix Suns on Sunday â€” the Warriors rolled into Houston and met a Rockets team that was at full strength and riding a nine-game winning streak. It could have been seen as one of those â€śstatement gamesâ€ť that are talked about each season.
All the Warriors did was get 30 points from Klay Thompson and a season-high 27 from DeMarcus Cousins to beat the Rockets 106-104, despite playing without an injured Kevin Durant.
The most significant part of the night had to be the production the Warriors got from Cousins, who has been ordinary since making his debut in mid-January after a year off recovering from an Achilles tendon tear.
Cousins is a gifted big man who should have fit seamlessly with the Warriors because of his passing ability, post play and shooting skills that can stretch the floor. But Golden State had been a pedestrian 15-7 with him in the lineup. And the Warriors had lost six of 10 games before meeting the red-hot Rockets.
â€śThere was a little sensitivity to how everybody was going to get their shots,â€ť Stephen Curry said in story in The New York Times. â€śAt the end of the day, weâ€™re all talented and we all have high basketball IQs, so just let things happen. You donâ€™t have to force anything. Weâ€™ve been good at it at times, and not so good at other times. So itâ€™s just a matter of sticking with the program.â€ť
In some ways, maybe the addition of Cousins late in the season is just the tonic the Warriors need to re-energize them through a boring part of the season. Getting a new toy, like a perennial all-star, for the final half of the season could be seen as disruptive to cohesion and force some changing of roles but it also gives a good team a reason to work hard at time when the games tend to just run together.
â€śSometimes weâ€™ve played a little too fast and shot too many quick shots instead of letting him get down on the block and controlling things,â€ť Golden State coach Steve Kerr said of Cousins.
â€śI think weâ€™ve got to remind ourselves that this is still early in the process. Weâ€™re all learning. Me too. Iâ€™ve got to learn to use him better.â€ť
The Warriors, two-time defending champions, have scuffled at times this season and would seem to be the furthest thing from a lock to play for another title in June. But if they can get Cousins to be a consistent producer along with Thompson, Durant and Stephen Curry, it would be folly to count them out.
The win in Houston may not be a huge thing in the long run â€” the Rockets have beaten the Warriors three times already this season â€” but it should certainly provide food for thought.
A game for the ages: C.J. Miles was mired in a season-long shooting slump this year with the Raptors before he was traded in February, even though he was showing signs of snapping out of it.
The difficulties with his shot have not followed him to Memphis, though.
Miles made eight three-pointers coming off the bench in a loss to Atlanta on Wednesday as part of a 33-point outburst.
The eight threes were the second-most made in a game by a Memphis player, and the 33 points were the second most by a Grizzlies non-starter in a game. The last Memphis player to make eight three-pointers in game was Mike Miller in April, 2008.
A difficult stretch: Coaches and players tend to downplay hard stretches of the regular-season schedule because things even out over the course of 82 games.
But no one would blame the Brooklyn Nets for looking ahead and slapping their heads in frustration at whatâ€™s coming.
Locked in a battle with Detroit for sixth in the East and only two games out of eighth, the Nets have seven straight road games ahead of them after losing in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
They are at Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland and Philadelphia before they get home to play Boston, Milwaukee and Toronto.
Thatâ€™s a true grind and may cost them playoff seeding.
Feast or famine: Whatâ€™s that old saying about the NBA being a make-or-miss league? No oneâ€™s proving that these days better than the Detroit Pistons.
For about a month-long stretch, the Pistons had one of the most proficient offences in the league and it allowed them to climb into sixth place in the East.
In their last two games â€” losses at Brooklyn and Miami â€” the Pistons played one half where they scored 34 points and one where they managed to score only 25. They averaged 74.5 points in those two games while shooting 22 per cent as a team from three-point range.
A gold-medal preview? The ramp-up to the FIBA World Cup in China this fall is beginning with the draw on Saturday and training camp and exhibition games being lined up.
There are still many to be announced â€” Canada will play at least a couple of domestic games at sites to be determined â€” but the one that is public could be a doozy.
The United States and Spain, who have played in two epic Olympic gold-medal games in Beijing and London, will play Aug. 16 in Anaheim, Calif.
The game will have some intrigue for Raptors fans. Toronto assistant coach Sergio Scariolo will coach Spain and thereâ€™s a slim possibility Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka will play. Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan are all part of the U.S. teamâ€™s pool of players.