Center Kevon Looney’s crucial role for Golden State as the NBA regular season comes to a close has gone largely unnoticed — which is hardly a surprise, since he plays on the same team as superstar guard Stephen Curry.
In the Warriors’ 119-116 win over the Jazz on Monday, however, his impact became more obvious.
As coach Steve Kerr deals with injuries in the frontcourt, he’s shortened his rotation, and Looney has played more minutes than he’s accustomed to — often going over the 30-minute mark. He’s stayed healthy, which is also crucial, given his extensive injury history.
He was in the game late against the Jazz and made a vital contribution, leading to Curry’s go-ahead three pointer.
And then their three longest-tenured players made three crucial plays in the final minute. Curry missed an open 3, but Kevon Looney, who battled Rudy Gobert well all game, scooped up his 13th rebound and kicked the ball back out to Green. Utah had a defensive breakdown. Curry scattered to a favorite spot. Green pinged him with a pass. Curry hit a go-ahead 3.Anthony Slater/The Athletic
That’s right — no Looney, no win against the Jazz. The victory was huge for Golden State as it battles for playoff position. Also, it was Looney’s third game in a row with double digit rebounds, the first time he’s accomplished that feat in his career. After the game, Kerr said it’s time to start singing Looney’s name out loud.
Kerr must be thanking his lucky stars for Looney. With an eight-man rotation, the Warriors would be lost without him. Plus, he brings extra championship mettle to the floor, along with Curry and forward Draymond Green.
Looney is the ideal role player and a joy to watch. He doesn’t try and do too much, but what he does do, well, after Monday night, it’s abundantly clear that Kerr could hardly coach without it.
(Photo credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)