Draymond Green knew he owed his teammates one. The Warriors power forward owed his coaching staff. He owed himself, too.
So he took to the most hallowed basketball ground on Earth and made amends with all three, posting a very organic triple-double – 20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists – in a 116-95 thrashing of the Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
“That’s how you do it,” Green said of his NBA-best ninth triple-double. “It comes within the flow of the game, within the flow of the offense. That’s how all of them have been.
“And when you start to do what I did yesterday, it doesn’t work out. I was kind of happy I didn’t get it (Saturday), because I didn’t deserve it.”
Green was one assist short of a triple-double Saturday in Philadelphia, where the Warriors blew a 24-point lead before slipping away with a 108-105 over the 76ers.
He blamed himself for disrupting the flow of the Warriors, conceding that he came out in the third quarter “chasing a triple-double” and that it took the team out of its rhythm and invited a Sixers comeback. In his pursuit of assists – he needed four – Green committed four turnovers in six minutes in Philly.
He was much, much better on Sunday in New York. It was Klay Thompson’s deadeye shooting and Green’s all-around play that powered the Warriors to their seventh consecutive victory.
[POOLE: Klay trounces Knicks, stays scorching for Warriors]
Green shot 9-of-9 from the floor and was plus-28 for the game. He is the first player to post a triple-double with at least nine shots without a miss since the late, great Wilt Chamberlain in 1967.
If Green wasn’t grabbing a rebound and initiating a fast break, he was finding teammates for open looks all over the court. There wasn’t the slightest indication that he had one eye on the stat sheet.
“I’ve never been a numbers guy,” he said. “But for some reason (Saturday) I just wanted to do it. That’s not who I am.”
When Green wasn’t finding a teammate or climbing the glass, he was punishing highly touted Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
“Draymond was great against Porzingis,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He pressured him out on the perimeter. Porzingis is going to be a great player. But he’s still young. He’s going to get bigger and stronger as he goes.
“But right now, Draymond . . . he’s been in the league of a few years. He knows how to put pressure on people.”
It was Kerr who applied the pressure on his team earlier. With the Warriors trailing 24-18 and 9:50 left in the second quarter, the coach angrily demanded a timeout and dropped a few choice words on his team, telling the defending champs they were embarrassing themselves on the most fabled arena in basketball.
“Coach Kerr got on us pretty good,” Thompson said. “He had a terrible clipboard throw, but other than that he was very animated on the sideline. We responded well to it.”
The Warriors (44-4) spent the rest of the night dominating the Knicks (23-27). Kerr’s words still ringing in their ears, they closed the quarter by draining 14 of their next 15 shots.
The defense, meanwhile, turned spectacular. New York shot 36.7 percent – only 21.5 percent in the third quarter as the Warriors closed out the game to achieve their seventh straight win.
There was more than enough to offset Steph Curry having a substandard night, 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
It didn’t matter, not with Thompson drilling 14 of 18 shots and Green being perfect from the field. And getting back to the game he typically plays.
“As a leader of this team, you don’t want to condone that,” Green said. “Because what makes this team special is that we share the ball and that we don’t care about stats. It’s that whoever is scoring that night is scoring, and we’re all going to look for him. That’s what makes this team special. It’s not chasing stats.
“To be that guy, as one of the leaders, that was terrible and out of character.”
Debt paid, leader back in place. And when that happens, the Warriors feel whole.