OAKLAND — The image of DeMarcus Cousins gripping his left thigh as he crumpled to the floor began the Warriors’ nightmare night.
The visiting Los Angeles Clippers overcame a 31-point deficit, the largest in NBA playoffs history, to edge out the Warriors, 135-131, Monday night. The series is now tied at one game apiece.
But the bigger loss came in the opening minutes. Three-and-a-half minutes into the game, Cousins chased down a loose ball near the Warriors bench. He suddenly collapsed, writhed in pain as he gripped his left thigh, and made his way to the Warriors locker room after realizing he couldn’t re-enter the game. The immediate reaction didn’t exude much optimism — and neither has the initial report.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Warriors fear Cousins suffered a torn left quad. The recovery period for the injury is generally around six weeks, at minimum. Cousins will have an MRI done Tuesday morning.
After the loss, Warriors players and coaches had plenty to mull over, whether it was their uptick in turnovers, suddenly disorganized defense, or lack of offensive execution in the second half. Amid the frustration, they also stopped to sympathize with Cousins, who spent the greater part of the past 14 months recovering from the Achilles tear that seriously impacted his career’s trajectory. He has now suffered another setback, in his second career playoff game.
Steve Kerr said he isn’t sure how long Cousins will be out, but the early diagnosis is that the injury is “significant.” Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, meanwhile, felt for Cousins, considering his long road to recovery from the Achilles tear and the current setback he now faces.
“We will rally behind him, tell him it’s far from the end of the world, and tell him he has so much great basketball ahead of him, and he believes that,” Thompson said. “It sucks. Injuries are part of the game, a terrible part of the game, but he will bounce back. I know he will. He is a fighter.”
“It’s tough, for sure,” Curry said. “You feel for him, considering everything he has been through this last year. This is a big stage, the playoffs. He has been looking forward to this. I don’t know the extent of the injury at this point, but hoping he gets back sooner than later. But just man to man, in terms of what he has been through, it’s tough. There’s no sugarcoating it. You hate to see this opportunity and this big stage taken away from him like that.”
For now, the Warriors will rely upon Kevon Looney, who is playing some of the best basketball of his career, and Andrew Bogut to pick up the slack at center. Jordan Bell could see some minutes. We are also likely to watch more of the small ball that has helped define Golden State’s current five-year run in Cousins’ absence.
“(We are) hoping for a speedy recovery because we really need (Cousins) if we want to make this run,” Thompson said.