Looney dominates boards against Cavs’ massive frontcourt originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Understandably, Sunday night’s Warriors game was all about Klay Thompson‘s long-awaited return to the Warriors’ lineup. However, there was an extremely promising development from another member of the Golden State’s starting five that deserves some attention.
“As important as he’s been all year,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in response to a question from NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole about Looney’s importance on Sunday night. “He’s just been a rock for us, he’s just been so solid, he just doesn’t get much notoriety because he’s not a flashy player but he sets our screens for our guards, he anchors our defense with Draymond and he’s an incredible rebounder, he just controlled the glass tonight, gave us a ton of second-chance opportunities.”
Cleveland has high-flying big man Jarrett Allen in its starting lineup along with 7-foot power forward Lauri Markkanen and possible Rookie of the Year and another 7-footer in Evan Mobley. The Warriors countered with 6-foot-9 Looney and the 6-foot-6 Juan Toscano-Anderson with Draymond Green being subbed out after the emotional Klay introductions due to a calf issue.
Yet, the Warriors outrebounded Cleveland 54-42 and posted a 39 percent offensive rebounding rate, 15 percentage points higher than the team’s season average.
Looney might have scored just six points, but his selflessness and hustle on the glass has been a pivotal aspect of the Warriors’ place atop the Western Conference standings.
His work on the offensive glass even helped Steph Curry, as he batted this ball out right to the Warriors star for a 3-pointer.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult task, coach challenged us the last five or six games we’ve been one of the worst rebounding teams after being really good the whole year so we wanted to come back and establish that and it was a good test going against a team that has great bigs that start and come off the bench like with Kevin Love. I feel like we did a good job keeping them off the glass and we offensive rebounded really good and I think we handled their size well.”
Mission accomplished for Looney and the Warriors’ frontcourt, and he’ll hope to build on that going into a clash against a strong Memphis Grizzlies team on Tuesday night.