If the rest of the NBA thought the best was over for the Warriors this season, guess again: They might have another long win streak coming.
Just wait ’til their A team gets its act together.
That scary thought came closer to reality on Monday night, when Harrison Barnes and Stephen Curry returned to action in a no-muss, no-fuss 111-101 victory over the Charlotte Hornets at Oracle Arena.
The victory marked the first time since Nov. 27 that the Warriors had their five starters available in the same game. No matter. In that span, they reeled off a 14-2 record.
“Having Harrison back out there, he looked good,” interim boss Luke Walton said. “We were able to get our small lineup out there for the first time in a while, the one that has been so effective for us this year. You know, it’s nice having options.”
Better yet when the Splash Brothers go off in tandem.
Klay Thompson scored 30 points, while Curry looked like his old self with 30 more in just 32 minutes. Draymond Green had 15 rebounds, 13 points and 10 assists to become the 15th NBA player to post three consecutive triple-doubles.
“[Green] does it quietly, too, [because] he’s so versatile,” said Thompson, who added with a wry smile, “Obviously, not verbally.”
The plan called for Barnes to be eased back into his starter role. Despite the extended layoff, he played in rhythm and scored eight points in 20 minutes off the bench.
Barnes had been sidelined for 16 games because of a sprained ankle, while Curry sat out a pair because of a bruised shin that was heavily wrapped afterward.
As for that other notable absentee, coach Steve Kerr, his return remained on hold.
“He’s the same — good days and bad days,” Walton reported. “But he’s not ready to coach yet.”
That the Warriors have remained dominant in the face of so many health problems speaks to the depth and flexibility, which have no equal in the league.
Walton spliced together no fewer than nine different starting line-ups with 10 different players in the 34 games this season. The list included Rush, Ian Clark and Festus Ezeli, who combined for all of seven starts a season ago.
While the Warriors’ record also says a lot about Curry and Green — the team has a 31-1 record when they start together — Barnes’ value at both ends cannot be understated. His team has yet to lose when he plays, 18 games in all.
“With Harrison, I thought there would be more rust than there was tonight,” Walton said. “Our main concern with him is getting back into shape where he won’t hurt himself again. That’s why you saw him playing four- or five-minute stretches. We’re fine with that.”
Charlotte HornetsDraymond GreenGolden State WarriorsHarrison BarnesKlay ThompsonNBAStephen CurryTriple-double