Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN Staff Writer 0 Shares Email print comment OAKLAND, Calif. – The Golden State Warriors are now 18-0, after a gleeful 120-101 evisceration of the DeMarcus Cousins-less Kings.
This game had the usual staples. Stephen Curry made physics-taunting shots, scoring 17 on a mere six attempts in the first quarter. Emerging All-Star candidate Draymond Green did everything, everywhere, again. This time that ubiquity led to his becoming the first Warrior since Wilt Chamberlain to claim consecutive triple-doubles. Andre Iguodala was great yet again, and Festus Ezeli delivered productive energy, yet again.
The Kings started off feisty, till the fight was futile. For the Warriors, it was another blowout win, to extend a streak that’s stretching far as light.
Ho hum, same old Warriors, a team that now has outscored teams by 288 points through 18 games. For comparison, Houston, Golden State’s 2015 Western Conference finals foe, had outscored teams by 282 points after their entire 2014-2015 season.
So, how does a team that averages a blowout top itself? On Saturday night, joyous surprise came in the form of a quick strike Brandon Rush throwback game. He was called upon to replace Harrison Barnes (sprained ankle) in the starting lineup, to some surprise. He didn’t deliver much in the beginning but owned the third quarter like Klay Thompson in disguise. Rush scored 14 points in a 3-minute, 49-second stretch that was shocking, fun, and possibly cathartic.
Rush has a history here, having done nice work for a very different Golden State team, not entirely long ago. On the 2011-2012 Warriors, he was the rare good role player, a glue guy in a situation too shattered to matter. On Nov. 3, 2012, against the Grizzlies, a Zach Randolph shove sent Rush’s career into dormancy. He’d scored 2,639 points in his four-plus seasons before his ACL injury. In the two seasons that followed, he scored 109.
In the background, he has been a vocal part of the locker room, originator of the, “Get what you neeeeed!” catchphrase, meant to inspire work between practices. He’s a popular teammate, someone people here have been pulling for to finally reclaim what he lost. That was palpable in the frenzy of his 14-point explosion. Teammates were clearly looking for Rush, hoping to extend his moment.
Brandon Rush scored 16 points, including 14 in a brief stretch during the third quarter. Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports After a dunk over contact, Rush was found for three consecutive 3-pointers. Then, during a timeout, interim coach Luke Walton and assistant coach Jarron Collins decided to carry the fun further, calling up “Elevator Doors” for the suddenly hot Rush.
“Elevator Doors” is a play that looks like its namesake. An offensive player runs off the ball between two screening teammates, who converge together to block his defender – the closing doors. It’s a play normally called up for the best of shooters, as it creates a 3-pointer on the move. You’ll see Curry get this play call. You’ll see Thompson get this play call. Something crazy has to happen for almost anyone else to ditch the stairs and take the lift. Since three straight 3s qualifies, Rush got the call, got the ball and … splash. The crowd went nuts, only outdone by a Golden State bench that might have accidentally created dance moves never before invented.
Walton explained the moment, saying, “When Brandon got hot and they called a timeout and we were walking out there to discuss [Jarron Collins] and I looked at each other at the same time. We both had it in our mind. That’s one of our go-to plays when somebody gets hot. It’s normally ran for Klay or Steph, so it was nice to be able to call for it for Brandon. They executed it perfectly and he knocked down the shot.”
Of the call, Rush said, “It was a big surprise. Luke said let’s stick with the hot hand.” Of the moment, Rush admitted, “It was the best I’ve felt in awhile. A couple years.”
The streak continues, bigger and better than ever. The Warriors continue to demur when asked about it, continue to focus on the present. In the meantime, their recent play has proved powerful enough to reclaim a man from the past.