OAKLAND — After Quinn Cook fouled out in the closing minutes on Wednesday night, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr — a smile splashed across his face — surveyed his bench, unsure what to do.
“I looked down at Andre [Iguodala] and Shaun [Livingston] and I said, ‘You guys pick.’ Because I knew neither one of them wanted to go back in,” Kerr quipped after the 117-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
On a night when injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson left the Warriors with just three true guards, the subs stepped up.
Before the Warriors handled the Lakers minus Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, David West and Patrick McCaw, Kerr struck an opportunistic tone.
“Hell, this is a great opportunity for guys. They should be champing at the bit. Klay and Steph: What’s that about 75 shots that aren’t going to be available on most nights that are suddenly there,” Kerr joked.
Cook, the G-League insurance policy that the Warriors have turned to in the the wake of Curry’s ongoing ankle issues, was on the same page as his boss. Making his fifth start of his career, Cook produced his first double-digit outing (13 points) of the year, delivering a performance that belied his limited résumé.
Cook, waived four times and thrice signed to a 10-day contract after he went undrafted out of Duke, carries himself like he belongs.
“I thought Quinn was fantastic,” Kerr said. “He played a really good game. I liked his aggression.
Aggression. That’s the key for Cook.
“Definitely. Definitely,” Cook explained. “I think the past couple games I started out aggressive and then I kind of eased up during the game but I just want to stay aggressive.”
Entering the fourth quarter, Cook was second only to Durant — his childhood idol in Maryland — in points (11) and field-goal attempts (10).
The 24-year-old is half of the tandem tasked with the impossible assignment of filling the Curry-sized hole in the Warriors lineup while the club slow-plays the two-time MVP’s ankle rehab.The pair combined to pour in 26 points, shooting 11-for-19 from the field.
Livingston, who has been generaling NBA backcourts since Cook was in middle school, knows exactly when he needs to leave his imprint in the game. In the first half, Livingston barked — a’la Draymond Green — at Zaza Pachulia, who was in the midst of producing his second double-double, when the 15-year vet forgot to cut, leading to an ugly turnover. Livingston didn’t miss a shot until the fourth quarter, finishing 6-for-8.
“Shaun knows when to be aggressive, when he needs to score for us when Steph and Klay are out,” Kerr said. “So I just thought he was great attacking and looking to set a tone early.”
Livingston also knows how to help the youngster.
“I had Shaun in my ear and Steph in my ear all night, telling me to, ‘Keep the pressure on those guys,’” Cook said. “And that makes everybody’s job easier on the floor when I’m aggressive and I’m making plays. And that’s what I do.”
A suited Curry, the only of the injured Warriors to take in the game from the bench, is an invaluable resource for Cook, the NBA neophyte.
“For me, what makes Steph so dynamic is his confidence. It’s his aura. It’s his swagger. It’s everything — his basketball IQ,” Cook said.
“To have him as a mentor, as a big brother, it’s a dream come true and it’s also a blessing because he’s one of the greatest to ever do it.”Golden State WarriorsNBAquinn cookShaun LivingstonStephen CurrySteve Kerr