LOS ANGELES — On a night when DeMarcus Cousins was the show and the Warriors were the sideshow, the defending NBA champions walked out of Staples Center in triumph.
After a mundane first half, the Warriors turned up the defense in the third quarter and went on to their seventh consecutive win, putting away the Clippers 112-94.
Though Stephen Curry scored 28 points and Kevin Durant totaled 24, no one made a more overall impact than Draymond Green, who had seven points, eight rebounds, nine assists, two steals and one block. He was a team-best plus-24 over 29 minutes.
Here are three takeaways from Cousins’ first game with the Warriors:
As expected for someone who has missed a year of playing basketball, there was both good and bad elements to Cousins’ game. Most of it was good.
The good: His shot is fine — certainly his 3-ball. No Warrior shot them better. He scored 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 3 of 4 from deep. He also grabbed six rebounds and recorded three assists.
The bad: He ran fairly well, but his endurance will take some time. His worst look was tossing up a 12-foot “Eurostep” floater that went about 11 feet. It was much too ambitious.
The obvious: He’ll get no break from officials. He fouled out in 15 minutes.
The take: All in all, Cousins is off to a pretty good start.
The Warriors of late have been burying opponents under a barrage of 3-pointers, shooting in volume and making a high percentage.
Not so on this night.
The Warriors were 9 of 37 from beyond the arc. They missed open looks, contested attempts and on a couple that practically went down before spinning out or bouncing off.
Curry was 3 of 11, Durant 2 of 7, Thompson 0 of 4 and Green 0 of 4.
The reserves, as a group, were 1 of 7.
After shooting 42 percent or better from beyond the arc in their previous four games, the Warriors were a cool 24.3 percent Friday.
Defense on demand
Despite not playing especially well at either end, the Warriors went into the locker room at halftime with a 52-51 lead. They knew there was more there, particularly against a team missing two of its three top scorers (Danilo Gallinari left after playing eight minutes, and Lou Williams did not play).
So when the Warriors came out for the third quarter, they got defensive. Limiting L,A, to 1-of-11 shooting in the first five minutes of the second half, the Warriors pushed the lead to 66-53.
The Clippers rallied, pulling as close as six late in the third quarter before the Warriors opened the fourth with two 3-pointers by Cousins and another by Andre Iguodala.
In essence, the Warriors spent much of the night toying with the Clippers before getting serious and putting them out of their misery. They generally seem to know when they can get away with five great minutes of defense.