CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins was getting tired of Kevin Durant cussing him out.
So he finally took Durant’s advice.
“He’s been telling me to stop thinking about it and just go play my game — be aggressive,” Cousins said.
Cousins did just that.
Klay Thompson scored 26 points, Cousins had a season-high 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Charlotte Hornets 121-110 on Monday night.
Coach Steve Kerr said it was the most comfortable Cousins has looked in a Warriors uniform.
“He made a couple of moves around the hoop where he showed great agility, but I think this is the best he’s looked,” Kerr said.
Cousins was happiest that he finally eclipsed 30 minutes of playing time.
“I have to hug coach Kerr for that,” he said.
Durant knows how important Cousins’ presence will be as the Warriors take aim at another NBA championship — but equally as important for the centre’s confidence.
“It’s huge for him to get his legs up under him and see the ball go in the rim and getting back to making the moves he normally makes,” Durant said. “So hopefully he builds on it.”
But Cousins wasn’t all smiles and jokes after the game.
He remained miffed that he received a technical foul in the second half when he tossed Jeremy Lamb’s shoe — which had fallen off in the middle of a play— into the crowd. The shoe was intercepted in the front row by longtime Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis.
“Next time I will just step on the shoe, roll my ankle, break it, tear an Achilles, just leave it out there next time — I guess that is what they want,” Cousins said.
Stephen Curry joked that next time Cousins should “gently” toss it next time, saying he’s too strong.
“Well, he didn’t have an insole in his shoe so it messed with the weight of the shoe and I put a little extra on it,” Cousins said with a grin.
The Warriors took a one-game lead over the Denver Nuggets in the race for the best record in the Western Conference and erased the memory of a home loss against Houston last Saturday night.
Durant had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who have not lost back-to-back games since December 27.
It was an off night for Curry in his return to his hometown, finishing with 16 points on four-of-14 shooting from three-point range. He went four of 17 from beyond the arc on this court at the NBA All-Star game eight days ago.
After trailing by 17 during the fourth quarter, Charlotte clawed within seven with 3:24 left before Curry stole a pass and fed Thompson for a fast-break layup. Curry sank a three-pointer with a minute left and raised his hands to show his relief.
Cody Zeller made 13 of 14 shots from the field and finished with a career-high 28 points to lead the Hornets, who have lost two straight. Zeller was largely the beneficiary of the Warriors putting added pressure on point guard Kemba Walker and not allowing him to shoot.
“The rest of us have to continue to make plays,” Zeller said.