Monday night at Oracle Arena spelled more than just one last bit of history in Game 2 against the L.A. Clippers, but saw a playoff-changing experience once DeMarcus Cousins fell and clutched his left quad, struggling to get up and immediately looking to the Golden State Warriors bench, seeking out the locker room.
The look of despair and sheer frustration in Cousins’ face said it all, a man that battled for nearly 12 entire months to overcome a crucial Achilles injury that brought his talents to this very team after several glossed him over in free agency.
If Cousins’ injury wasn’t enough bad news, the caustic avalanche of a blown 31-point lead — the worst in NBA playoff history — only compounded what was a dark night for the two-time defending champions.
Here are 5 Clutch Points from Game 2:
Fearing the worst for DeMarcus Cousins
The Warriors looked in relatively good shape in the first quarter, until DeMarcus Cousins picked off a careless Danilo Gallinari pass and raced up court for what most expected would be an easy deuce. Instead, the ball threatened to roll out of bounds, causing Cousins — all 270 pounds of him — to chase after it with relentless pursuit, soon falling to the hardwood and clutching his left quad in agony.
Boogie went back to the locker room after this play with apparent leg injury. pic.twitter.com/WgzWjxA17B
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 16, 2019
If the play itself didn’t describe the pause in everyone on the Warriors bench, this close-up surely does.
Another look at the play which injured Boogie. pic.twitter.com/wBle8wHPOs
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 16, 2019
Cousins got up and immediately kept holding his left quad, refusing help, but quickly turning to the locker room as the Warriors fouled intentionally to get him off the court.
The night was already grim in that respect, yet a still of a hallway video showed Cousins’ quad bulging out of its normal position, something that made former players like Charles Barkley express deep concern.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 16, 2019
Barkley, who suffered a career-derailing quad injury in 1999, was frank enough to point out his thoughts on the matter.
“I just hope he’s alright, man,” said Barkley at halftime on Inside The NBA. “I’m concerned, because that looked like my leg when I blew out my quad. I’m just really concerned, because, man — the kid can’t catch a break. But when I saw him walking to the locker room, I remember walking to the locker room and he grabbed right where I grabbed. Like I said, I’m not a doctor, but man… I think he blew out his quad.”
Charles Barkley says DeMarcus Cousins quad injury reminds him of his career-ending quad injury in 1999 pic.twitter.com/dr1nZvjgy9
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) April 16, 2019
Sir Charles’ words could be much more than just accurate commentary, but also relatable in many ways. During his playing career, Barkley weighed close to the 270 pounds that Cousins does — and there is always a fear for injury when a large man of that size chases after a ball so avidly.
Slimmer players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant have the right frame to keep their balance in high-speed pursuits like the ones Cousins got off to, but the sheer weight and torque into those muscles often show why players of that size aren’t seen running coast-to-coast more often.
Boogie will be examined on Tuesday morning and get an MRI to assess the damage. Golden State is already bracing for the worst — a torn quad — which could cause his loss for the season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason.
Editor’s Note: Cousins was diagnosed with a torn left quad on Tuesday morning following his MRI examination. He is not expected to return this postseason.
The nightmare that is Patrick Beverley
There were a myriad of factors that played into Golden State’s demise after holding a 31-point lead with 7:31 left in the third quarter, but all of them are somehow intertwined with irritant extraordinaire Patrick Beverley.
For starters, Beverley divided his time defending Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, but it was the switch on the latter that eventually helped the Clippers have a shot to come back.
Curry has played more of an off-the-ball role this season more than in any other, and while he’s drawn plenty of fouls while being held coming off screens, Beverley made sure to make his life a living hell. Curry’s first and third fouls of the game were drawn by Beverley, playing the role of pest in Academy Award-winning fashion.
His fourth, was an offensive foul on Beverley, who flailed after Curry pushed off slightly to gain separation and go backdoor.
Suddenly, Curry was forced to take a seat with 8:39 left in the third quarter, without taking a single shot.
The two-time MVP would return for the last play of the quarter, but only to throw a hideous pass to the corner, which turned into a turnover and a Clippers score to end the half — closing the gap to 108-94.
Speaking by the numbers, Beverley held Curry scoreless for the quarter. A simple look to the play-by-play will tell you Curry did not take a shot and sat on the bench for the bulk of it, but ask any sound defensive coach and he will say the best defense is to not let your opponent have the ball at all.
Captain Beverley’s mission was indeed a rousing success.
A plague that never goes away
The Warriors’ dismal second-half play was much more than a series of circumstances aligning for the Clippers, but a line of mistakes fostered over the course of several regular seasons that have come back to bite them in epic ways.
Giving up large leads and letting opponents into the game isn’t a brand new concept for this team, one that has lollygagged its way through the regular season, only to flip the proverbial switch on for the postseason.
However that isn’t as easy as it sounds, and these are the growing pains that come from it.
The main architect of this massive letdown was Patrick Beverley, who got Curry out of the game less than four minutes into the third quarter, disrupting his rhythm and ultimately the Warriors’ game altogether.
Take this for instance — Kevin Durant had drawn an offensive foul from a jostling JaMychal Green, but Beverley made it a point to get him back at the other end, giving the ball right back to the Clippers in the ensuing possession.
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) April 16, 2019
It is with this kind of nastiness and personal vendetta that Beverley approaches each and every play — and when a player is that zoned into his job, there’s very little that can be done to stop him at this level.
And so what was once a 31-point lead, quickly evaporated to a 14-point lead to start the fourth quarter.
Plays like this nifty one-on-one steal would also make all the difference, as Beverley times Curry’s walk-up dribble and sets up Danilo Gallinari for the easy flush — 12-point game.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 16, 2019
Much can be said about the Clippers’ 44-point third quarter and the Warriors nine turnovers in the period that got them there, but this was more than the tale of a really poor second half, but the culmination of years of Golden State’s inability to step on opponents’ necks and deal the final blow.
Lou Williams & Montrezl Harrell pick-your-poison pick-and-roll
For a second straight night, the bench duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell proved a puzzle to solve for the Warriors, as they followed a 51-point combined effort in Game 1 with 61 points between them in Game 2.
Williams went off for 36 points and 11 assists, a master of his one-on-one craft, nailing tough shot after tough shot on an experienced defender like Klay Thompson.
Lou Will ties the game after being down 31, but Curry answers with a big 3 pic.twitter.com/C2RYyFh65l
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) April 16, 2019
Williams constantly hunted for a matchup against Curry, the least-equipped defender to deal with his off-the-dribble shenanigans — but the former Sixth Man of the Year was an equal-opportunity abuser, giving the entire roster buckets in a bright 13-of-22 shooting performance from the floor.
Besides Williams, there isn’t a Clipper the Warriors respect more than Harrell, a hard-nosed banger with the same relentlessness than Draymond Green, but much more athletically gifted.
Harrell torched the Warriors, making a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor and 7-of-9 from the foul line, adding 10 boards to his exemplary performance.
If the Louisville alum wasn’t on your radar, it’s time he starts appearing, as he’s made an incandescent 20-of-24 from the floor in two playoff games against the hapless Warriors.
In this series, off the Clippers bench
Lou Williams: 61 points on 24/43 FG
Montrezl Harrell: 51 points on 20/24 FG
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 16, 2019
Both players combined for 27 of the Clippers’ 41 points in the fourth quarter, more than the 23-point output from the Warriors.
There is very few positives to take from such a colossal disaster like blowing a 31-point mid-third-quarter lead, but if there is one is how Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut were quick to provide the much-needed punch from the center position.
After Cousins went down, Looney was the effective play-finisher the Warriors needed him to be, making all six of his shots and draining 7-of-8 from the foul line — a career-high 19 points in 19 minutes. Not shabby at all.
Bogut led the Warriors in rebounding with nine boards in his split of 17 minutes while Quinn Cook showed why head coach Steve Kerr made him a part of the rotation, scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and a blazing 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Andre Iguodala did his part in 26 minutes, scoring nine points, pulling down four rebounds and dishing out five assists.
However the Warriors wasted great efforts by some key bench players with sloppy play and a lack of focus — one that can ultimately come back to bite them later in this series.