After an injury-plagued period, Israeli basketball player Omri Casspi made a stellar comeback on Monday night, scoring his season high in a Golden State Warriors victory just days after it was reported that the team could be ditching him.
Casspi scored 19 points and 10 rebounds in a rare start in place of the injured Draymond Green, as the NBA champions cruised to a 129-83 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Earlier in February, Yahoo Sports reported that Casspi could be traded due to unsatisfactory performance in three-point shots. The team eventually decided to keep him, and he responded with his best game so far this season.
“I had to make some adjustments,” said an excited Casspi in his post-game interview. “It’s just fun to go up and play, I felt like the guys found me some easy ones early, to get going.”
“I put a lot of effort into spacing the floor more and shooting more 3-pointers,” he said of his efforts to return to form following his absence. “It’s been tough, but it’s part of the game and I’m happy the coach chose me today to go out and play, and I felt good.”
Omri Casspi talks about his needed performance tonight, the decision to shoot more 3s pic.twitter.com/GglK4no4af
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 13, 2018
With the grind of a long NBA season wearing on his team, the Warriors’ coach, Steve Kerr, turned over most of the coaching duties to his players, and they responded in fine fashion.
Kerr said he told the players of his plan after the previous game and they ran the show for most of the day. Andre Iguodala took over at morning shoot-around, JaVale McGee ran the computer for the film session and Iguodala, Draymond Green and David West got most of the work designing plays and running the huddle during timeouts.
“It’s the players’ team,” Kerr said. “It’s their team and they have to take ownership of it. As coaches, our job is to nudge them in the right direction, guide them. We don’t control them. They determine their own fate. I don’t think we’ve focused well the last month. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Stephen Curry scored 22 points for the Warriors. Kevin Durant had 17 as Golden State won its 12th straight in the series, its longest active streak against any team.
Yavne native Casspi, who in 2009 became the first Israeli ever to make it to the top US basketball league, debuted with the Warriors in October. It is the sixth NBA team he has played for.
“We have so many smart basketball minds on our team,” Casspi said. “The guys really used this opportunity to run things they like.”