CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins was getting tired of Kevin Durant cussing him out.
So he finally took Durant’s advice.
“He’s been telling me to stop thinking about it and just go play my game — be aggressive,” Cousins said.
Cousins did just that.
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Klay Thompson scored 26 points, Cousins had a season-high 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Charlotte Hornets 121-110 on Monday night.
Coach Steve Kerr said it was the most comfortable Cousins has looked in a Warriors uniform.
“He made a couple of moves around the hoop where he showed great agility, but I think this is the best he’s looked,” Kerr said.
Cousins was happiest that he finally eclipsed 30 minutes of playing time.
“I have to hug coach Kerr for that,” he said.
Durant knows how important Cousins’ presence will be as the Warriors take aim at another NBA championship — but equally as important for the center’s confidence.
“It’s huge for him to get his legs up under him and see the ball go in the rim and getting back to making the moves he normally makes,” Durant said. “So hopefully he builds on it.”
But Cousins wasn’t all smiles and jokes after the game.
He remained miffed that he received a technical foul in the second half when he tossed Jeremy Lamb’s shoe — which had fallen off in the middle of a play— into the crowd. The shoe was intercepted in the front row by longtime Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis.
“Next time I will just step on the shoe, roll my ankle, break it, tear an Achilles, just leave it out there next time — I guess that is what they want,” Cousins said.
Stephen Curry joked that next time Cousins should “gently” toss it next time, saying he’s too strong.
“Well, he didn’t have an insole in his shoe so it messed with the weight of the shoe and I put a little extra on it,” Cousins said with a grin.
The Warriors took a 1 ½-game lead over the Denver Nuggets in the race for the best record in the Western Conference and erased the memory of a home loss against Houston on Saturday night.
Durant had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who have not lost back-to-back games since Dec. 27.
It was an off night for Curry in his return to his hometown, finishing with 16 points on 4-of-14 shooting from 3-point range. He went 4 of 17 from beyond the arc on this court at the NBA All-Star game eight days ago.
After trailing by 17 during the fourth quarter, Charlotte clawed within seven with 3:24 left before Curry stole a pass and fed Thompson for a fast-break layup. Curry sank a 3-pointer with a minute left and raised his hands to show his relief.
Cody Zeller made 13 of 14 shots from the field and finished with a career-high 28 points to lead the Hornets, who have lost two straight. Zeller was largely the beneficiary of the Warriors putting added pressure on point guard Kemba Walker and not allowing him to shoot.
“The rest of us have to continue to make plays,” Zeller said. “All of my buckets were right around the rim, a lot of easy buckets, but a lot of credit to Kemba and Nicolas (Batum) and those guys for making the unselfish play. It’s on me to continue to score myself or find shooters in the corners.”
Warriors: Had eight dunks in the second quarter.
Hornets: Were 3 of 14 from 3-point range in the first half. … Walker became the franchise’s career leader in field goals made with 3,952, passing Dell Curry.
During his stop in Charlotte, Curry hosted the “Underrated Tour,” a first-of-its-kind series of basketball camps designed to highlight underrated prep athletes looking to make it to the next level. The camp is free and available to unsigned high school players with a 3-star ranking or below — like Curry had in high school — giving overlooked athletes the opportunity to refine their skills, gain exposure and achieve a deeper understanding of the game.
About 100 players participated in the event at the new Curry Court, an indoor court that he helped renovate at a downtown recreation center.
Curry is hosting the same event at seven cities around the country.
BIG ON ASSISTS
The Warriors passing was outstanding at times and they finished with 35 assists.
“We did a good job of exploiting the mismatches and letting the offense work for us,” Durant said.
Warriors: Visit the Heat on Wednesday.
Hornets: Host the Rockets on Wednesday.
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