Gary Payton II made his season debut for the Golden State Warriors on Sunday evening, in the team’s 99-96 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Payton II had been working his way back from an abdominal injury and hadn’t suited up for Golden State since being traded from the Portland Trailblazers.
The 28-year-old scored 9 points in 15 minutes off the bench for the Warriors in the loss.
After the game, his teammates Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shared some thoughts on having him back in the lineup.
“He just brings a different element – obviously defensively – but he’s just so in sync with what we do,” Curry told reporters via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel.
Payton II played a key role in the Dubs’ championship run last season. He provided the team with a defensive boost off of the bench.
“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.”
Gary Payton II Discusses Return to Warriors
Payton II, of course, got his chance to speak with the media after his return to the floor. He explained that he felt good in his short amount of playing time against Minnesota.
“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.”
Fans gave the 2022 NBA champion a warm welcome when he checked into the game. Payton expressed gratitude for the gesture.
“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.”
He concluded by saying that he was bummed not to take home the win in his return.
“That we lost,” Payton cited, when asked what the worst part of Sunday’s defeat was. “I think turnovers here and there, they piled up. But just down the stretch, we had it right here. But like I said, just turnovers. Dancing around and stuff like that. Just not being on the same page. I think we just lost a possession or two, and I think that eventually ended up being the decider.”
Steve Kerr Slams Warriors After Loss to Timberwolves
Payton II wasn’t the only disappointed to see his team come up short to the Timberwolves. Head coach Steve Kerr discussed Golden State’s shortcomings in the loss.
“I don’t need to rank them (the turnovers). They all hurt,” Kerr said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel.” We got to close the game. We got to execute down the stretch. And I got to help them. I got to do a better job myself in helping them to execute. But disappointing because we fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win. Had the ball with the lead late. I thought couple of possessions in those last two minutes just hurt us, and they hit the big shot.”