Looney returns to play for Warriors in Game 4

OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney played in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, five days after coach Steve Kerr said he would likely miss the rest of the postseason.

Looney’s return to the lineup came as a surprise given that he suffered a nondisplaced first costal cartilage fracture on his right side during Game 2.

Looney did not play in Game 3 on Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors — who lead the series 2-1 — but after more consultation from the Warriors’ medical team, the decision was made to allow Looney to play.

“Kevon’s going to give it a go tonight,” Kerr said before the game. “So further evaluation, a second opinion, and then a lot of research and making sure that there’s no long-term risk involved with him playing. And it all checked out, and he’s dying to play, and so we’ll give him a shot and we’ll see what he’s got.”

Looney’s presence should give the Warriors both an emotional and physical lift on the floor. Veteran center DeMarcus Cousins struggled in Game 3 as he continues to recover from a torn quad injury suffered early in the playoffs. Looney has provided a stabilizing force for a Warriors group that depends on his presence off the bench.

“The guy’s just tough,” Kerr said. “He’s tough and he wants to play. And the injury is in an area where it allows him to move well enough to give it a shot to play.”

Kerr said he did not believe Looney would take a pain-killing injection before the game.

As for Kevin Durant, the injured forward remains out for Game 4 because of a right calf injury, but Kerr left open the possibility that Durant could still come back at some point in this series.

“He’s not playing tonight,” Kerr said. “We’re hoping he can play Game 5 or 6. And everything in between I’ve decided I’m not sharing because it’s just gone haywire. There’s so much going on, and so it doesn’t make sense to continue to talk about it. He’s either going to play or he’s not. So tonight he’s not playing.”

Warriors All-Star swingman Klay Thompson also played Friday after missing Game 3 because of a hamstring injury. Kerr noted that while Thompson did not have a specific minutes restriction, the training staff would be watching him closely to see how his hamstring responds.

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