By C.J. Peterson
Special to S.F. Examiner
OAKLAND — With a step back well beyond the three-point line, Quinn Cook raised up to hoist a 26-foot shot in the final minutes of the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies. As the shot hit nothing but the bottom of the net, Cook’s triple put the Warriors ahead 113-90, essentially sealing another victory for the back-to-back defending champions.
While the win marked Golden State’s eighth in a row, Cook’s 13-point performance came as more of a personal victory. Making his first on-court appearance in over a week after receiving two consecutive DNPs (Did Not Play), Cook’s relentless work ethic, which manifested itself in a post-game ritual, helped keep his game sharp despite the lack of playing time.
“I was really proud of Quinn,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “He’s stayed ready, works his tail off every day. His shooting stroke never left, even though I haven’t played him in the last couple of weeks.”
Over the course of the last week-and-a-half, Cook had played a total of 18 minutes between five games. Sixteen of those minutes were played against the Bulls in Chicago and two were played in garbage time against the Knicks in New York.
In the remaining three games, however, Cook did not leave the bench, receiving a trio of DNPs including two straight against the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves last week.
After the New Orleans game, Cook was spotted getting shots up alone in front of 19,596 empty seats at Oracle Arena. It’s a ritual Cook has performed since his time at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.
“It’s something I’ve always done,” Cook said. “I remember in college, we had a UNC game, those games start at 9 [p.m.]. We probably got back to Duke around 12-12:30 and I was in the gym at 1 [a.m.].”
For Cook, that mentality paid off against the Grizzlies. In 19 minutes, Cook scored his 13 points by hitting a career-best 4-of-5 3-point shots, and pulled down seven rebounds in the absence of both Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
Livingston, nursing a lingering foot injury, has served as Stephen Curry’s backup and kept the ball flowing even when Curry missed significant time last season. When Curry went down for a significant stretch late in the season, Golden State needed more scoring punch. That’s when they called Cook up from the G League. With Curry struggling to a 3-for-11 first half on Monday, they called on Cook again.
“He’s a true pro,” said Cook’s teammate Kevin Durant. “It’s been that way since he was a kid. And it doesn’t stop now because you get to the NBA … Whenever he gets his opportunity to play, he’s confident because he puts that work in no matter what.”