The Golden State Warriors need to have all hands on deck if they want to make noise down the stretch of the regular season. They have struggled with inconsistency all season, including issues with their bench unit and winning away from home.
On Sunday night, the Warriors did get a little bit of relief, though. Gary Payton II returned to the court after dealing with a long-term injury. He re-joined the team at the trade deadline but was unable to play until their loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. After the game, he spoke about his immediate connection with Donte DiVincenzo.
“I’ve had multiple teammates throughout my career, so I’ve been watching how they play and whatnot,” Payton said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “Look, Donte’s easy. We checked in for a second, and he was like, ‘What do you want to do? Full court?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ So, just that energy right there alone, I already know what he’s on. And he knows what I’m on.”
When he was on the squad, Payton acted as the Warriors’ defensive sparkplug off the bench. When he left them over the summer, Donte DiVincenzo filled that role. Now, they can cause chaos together.
Payton played fairly well in his return to the court for Golden State. The veteran guard put up nine points, two rebounds, and one assist on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 shooting from distance.
DiVincenzo, on the other hand, didn’t really have a chance to impact the game on the offensive end. He finished the night with two points, three rebounds, and two assists on 1-of-1 shooting from the floor.
Gary Payton Discusses Warriors Return
As for Payton, he spoke about how he felt in his return after the game.
“Good. I felt like I was out there shorter than I was, but 16 minutes. Felt good, though,” Payton said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “There were a lot of gaps in there, so [I was] able to go get my breath back after whistles and calls.”
In addition, he sent a message to Dub Nation.
“I didn’t have any [expectations],” Payton said of his return game. “I already knew it was love since I’ve been back from Dub Nation. So, it was just a nice welcome home. But you know I mess with Dub Nation like that. So, it’s all love.”
Klay Thompson Shows Love to Gary Payton II
It’s safe to say that Payton’s teammates are happy to have him back in town, too. He played a crucial role in their championship run last season, and now that he’s back in town, he has a chance to help them make a real postseason push this year as well. Klay Thompson talked about Payton’s return post-game.
“It was great having Gary back,” Thompson said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “I was really happy with the ovation he got because he earned it. He was a huge part of what we did last year and why we’re the champs. And I know he will be again this year.”