With his team on the verge of sacrificing home court advantage, Kevon Looney stepped up and had his most productive game in over seven years.
Looney stepped up and delivered 21 points for the Golden State Warriors in their comeback 126-117 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, lifting his team to a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals in the process. Looney also led his team with 12 rebounds while shooting 10-of-14 from the field, and Steph Curry was the only Warrior to hit more field goals.
Golden State was down by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, and they never led through the first three quarters. Looney came alive, though, and he scored 15 points in the second half alone to help erase the deficient and clinch the Game 2 win.
The last time the big man broke the 20-point threshold was when he was still with UCLA men's basketball. Since that contest against Stanford on Jan. 8, 2015, Looney has played in 20 NCAA games, 367 regular season NBA games, 54 NBA playoff games, 16 NBA G League games and 11 NBA Summer League games without ever scoring 20-plus points.
The uncharacteristic high-octane scoring performance, chock-full of dunks and finishes around the rim, comes just a week removed from Looney's career-high 22 rebounds in Golden State's series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson dubbed Looney "Kevon Looajuwon" in reference to Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon after that unprecedented performance on the boards. The nickname was mostly due to Olajuwon's status as the NBA's 14th-leading rebounder all-time, but the former Houston Rocket also has the 12th-most points in league history.
While he has been known for his rebounding prowess since before he even got to Westwood, Looney has not always been the most dominant scorer.
Looney was a McDonald's All-American and was the headliner of UCLA's 2014 recruiting class. UCLA was only ranked in the top 25 one week all season Looney's freshman year, but the team made the Sweet 16 and Looney carried the load down low to help them rank top 30 in the country in rebounding.
On the season, Looney averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, starting all 36 contests for the Bruins. Looney's first Pac-12 home game was the aforementioned Stanford game, when he notched career-highs with 27 points and 19 rebounds in 47 minutes of the double-overtime win.
Looney left Westwood after one season, and the Warriors selected him with the No. 30 overall pick in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. After rarely seeing the court his rookie year, Looney slowly worked his way up through the rotation and earned a few scattered starts over the years.
The 2021-2022 campaign was one of Looney's most productive yet, averaging 6.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game on 57.1% shooting from the field. For his career, Looney is now averaging 4.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game across 367 regular season appearances.
At age 26, Looney already has two NBA championship rings, and he is just six wins away from securing a third.