Draymond Green and Kevin Durant defended Warriors teammate DeMarcus Cousins after the reigning NBA champions bounced back in style on Friday.
The Warriors beat the Nuggets, their rivals for the top seed in the Western Conference, 122-105 at Oracle Arena, recovering from a humiliating home loss Tuesday to the Celtics.
The team’s form – a 3-5 run coming into the Nuggets game – had led to criticism of Cousins, but he responded with a superb showing at both ends of the court, finishing with 13 points, six rebounds, six assists, six blocks and three steals in 28 minutes.
Klay Thompson also shined with 39 points, including nine 3-pointers after his two-game injury absence, but it was the comments about Cousins, who did not speak to the media after the game, that had clearly affected his teammates.
“I think it p—- him off,” Green told reporters. “He’s a competitor. He’s one of those guys that’s been misunderstood his whole career because he competes and he wears his emotions on his sleeve.
“Everybody wants to talk s— about DeMarcus’ defense. I told y’all [after the Celtics game] we all hadn’t played with energy – or at practice. Everybody wanna [say], ‘It’s a problem when DeMarcus is out there.’
“[We all] picked the energy up, all of a sudden no one is talking about DeMarcus’ problems defensively. Now it’s a good matchup for him. That’s b******* to me.
“Everyone wants to single one guy out, but yet our entire team defense was horrible the last two weeks. Everybody picked that up playing better defense, and obviously he shined on that end as well.”
— NBA (@NBA) March 9, 2019
Durant said: “I don’t think you [the media] really know what defense means. You look at the numbers and the stats, and the blocks, and it’s easy for you to say, ‘Oh, DeMarcus had a great game.’ If somebody else tells you he didn’t play well, then that’s what you’ll write.
“But I don’t think anybody in our locker room is really blaming DeMarcus for anything. We all have our miscommunications out there, miscues out there, whatever you want to call it, but I don’t think you guys had anything to do with [this win].”
The Warriors are now 45-20, with the Nuggets two games back at 43-22 heading into the closing stages of the regular season.
“Pride,” coach Steve Kerr added. “Our guys have responded for the last five years to bad losses, to lulls, so it didn’t surprise me at all that we came out with energy and passion.
“We’re not going to just flip it all around in one night, but this was a great start to getting back on track and playing like ourselves.”
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) March 9, 2019