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Looney’s career night comes when Warriors need it most

Looney’s career night comes when Warriors need it most

SAN FRANCISCO — Kevon Looney felt a pit in his stomach Friday night as he was showered with “M-V-P” chants by the Chase Center crowd when stepped up to the free throw line.

Looney had put on the best performance possibly of his career in that third quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and had the opportunity to cut the Mavericks’ lead down to five points for the first time since the first quarter.

He took a deep breathe, dribbled the ball three times and then let it fly. Swish.

“That was nerve-racking, I haven’t shot a free throw in a game in like [two] weeks,” Looney recalled after the Warriors’ epic comeback win to take a 2-0 series lead. “It was a cool moment for me. I made the free throw, so that was even better.”

After scoring just six points in the first half, Looney finished with career-high 21 and grabbed 11 rebounds for his second career postseason double-double and first of this playoffs. He was exceptional in the third quarter, going 5-for-6 for 11 points, to help the Warriors come back from a 17-point second-half deficit. He punctuated the run with a dunk at the buzzer to end the quarter that pulled Golden State within two points.

Looney’s outburst came at a time when the Warriors’ needed it the most, with Draymond Green finding himself in foul trouble for most of the second half before he picked up his sixth one with 2:25 left in the game.

The career-best outing made him the first Warriors center to record 20 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game since Robert Parish in 1977, according to StatMuse, and followed an eye-popping 22-rebound showing in Golden State’s series-clinching Game 6 win over the Grizzlies last week.

“Loon was just brilliant, again,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s had a fantastic playoff run. He’s incredibly underrated by everybody. He switches onto guards and he rebounds, he sets screens, and in a series like this, it’s so spread out, he’s able to score some buckets in the paint as well.”

Looney, who boasts modest career averages of 4.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, had always dreamed of having a night like Friday. But Injuries early in his career — including surgeries to both hips — had some doubt whether the former first-round pick would have staying power in the league. Even Kerr admitted he didn’t see Looney’s potential to be the player he is now.

“We didn’t know what we hard,” Kerr said. “And then that third year when we didn’t pick up his option because we had not really seen him play, and then this third year he was great, it’s like uh-oh, we might lose this guy. Fortunately, we got him back and he’s just gotten better and better.”

In his lowest moments, Looney would tell himself “keep working, your time will come,” a message Kerr often iterates to his role players.

What makes Looney so beloved among his teammates is that he’s the ultimate professional. He’s willing to accept any role the Warriors give him even…

Read Full Story At: Paradise Post

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