Kevin Durant carried the Golden State Warriors on his shoulders when Stephen Curry was sidelined. Durant will be relied upon heavily once again as they attempt to sweep a six-game road trip.
Durant recorded a triple-double with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the Warriors’ 101-87 victory at Charlotte on Wednesday. Golden State was playing its first game since Curry sprained his right ankle at New Orleans on Monday, an injury that will keep him out at least two weeks.
“Clearly the best player on the floor, the dominant player on the floor,” coach Steve Kerr said of Durant. “What he showed was without Steph in particular, KD almost had a different bounce to his step, like ‘I got it. This is mine.’ And he was brilliant.”
The depleted Warriors (20-6) will try to extend their five-game winning streak at Detroit on Friday. The Pistons have lost four straight, all on the road.
Golden State is dealing with a number of injuries. Another key performer, Draymond Green, missed the Hornets’ game with a sore shoulder and is questionable to play against the Pistons. Backup Patrick McCaw didn’t play because of a concussion, while Zaza Pachulia left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder issue. They are both doubtful for Friday’s game.
Durant wound up taking 28 shots on Wednesday as the Warriors controlled the game virtually from the opening tip.
“It wasn’t really scripted,” Kerr said. “It’s more naturally how it’s going to flow with Steph out and Draymond out. KD’s naturally going to get the ball. I just liked his pace, his energy. He was attacking right from the start.”
Quinn Cook, a second-year player out of Duke, got the surprise start at point guard. He played 22 minutes and supplied eight points and three assists while only making one turnover.
Kerr had to make some offensive adjustments with Curry out of the lineup.
“We have to call more plays without Steph,” he said. “With Steph, it’s a little more chaotic, just running ball screens and getting downhill and just playing out of that. (Now) a few more called sets. We’ve still got to get better with our execution while Steph is out, make sure we know what we’re running and running it sharply. It’s a good opportunity for us to improve on that stuff.”
The Pistons (14-10) left Detroit last week with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They returned with a four-game skid, including a 104-100 loss to division rival Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Andre Drummond had a huge game with 27 points, 20 rebounds and six assists but it still wasn’t enough.
“We just need to keep our head up,” Drummond said. “We can’t allow these losses to get us down. It’s a long season. We had a lot of success early in the year. This stretch is done, it happened. What we do with this rough patch is really going to show our character.”
Coach Stan Van Gundy is contemplating changes to his rotation. The reserves only contributed 16 points and six rebounds against the Bucks.
“Our bench has not played very well on this trip,” he said. “We maybe have to change up our rotation because our bench had obviously been really good for us and hasn’t been recently. I think we need to look at combinations on the floor.”
The Pistons have played well at their new home, Little Caesars Arena, winning eight of 10.