Kevin Durant doesn’t often run the Warriors’ offense _ certainly not with Stephen Curry on the floor. So when he got the opportunity on Wednesday night, he relished it. Durant had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Golden State beat the Charlotte Hornets 101-87 without Curry and Draymond Green.
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,” Durant said. “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.”
Coach Steve Kerr called it a luxury to turn from one MVP to another in a time of need. He said Durant simply took over.
“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, he almost had a different bounce to his step, like `This one is mine, I got it.”
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. Curry will be sidelined for about two weeks with a sprained ankle, while Green is nursing a sore shoulder.
It hardly mattered. Durant set the tone, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter to help the Warriors build a 26-18 lead. The edge increased to 26 in the second quarter following back-to-back 3-pointers by Nick Young, who had 10 points.
“Even without those other guys, they’re still pretty good,” said Hornets associate head coach Stephen Silas, who is leading the team while Steve Clifford is dealing with a health issue. “Obviously with Kevin Durant and Klay it was hard to stop those guys tonight.”
Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 24 points, while Nic Batum added 15 and Dwight Howard 14. Charlotte cut the lead to 11 at the end of the third quarter behind 10 points from Batum but didn’t make a serious run at the lead thanks to a strong fourth quarter from Thompson.
Warriors: Golden State (20-6) had 24 fast-break points against a team that had been allowing the second-fewest fast-break points in the league at 7.5 per game. … Patrick McCaw did not play because of a bruised nose.
Hornets: Charlotte attempted one free throw in the first half after attempting 40 on Monday night against the Orlando Magic.
WHAT’S COOKING: Quinn Cook started at point guard for the Warriors and had eight points, three assists and three rebounds. Kerr said his play was fantastic.
“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.”
INJURED HORNETS: Just when the Hornets finally got everyone back healthy, they lost two big men off the bench. 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.
Kaminsky left the arena in a walking boot.
“I don’t know,” Silas said of their status moving forward. “Hopefully those guys will be OK because we got some home games coming up and we’ll need them.”
Warriors: Visit Pistons on Friday night.
Hornets: Host Bulls on Friday night.