In a matchup between the best and second best offenses in the NBA, the Warriors couldn’t overcome an uncharacteristically putrid shooting performance.
It was the most tightly contested game the Warriors have played seemingly in weeks. There were 14 ties and 25 lead changes. Two fake handoffs, missed free throws and a jump ball defined the final minute of the game.
But Golden State shot a season-low 23.1% (9/39) from 3. Cody Martin and Charlotte’s aggressive defensive schemes bottled up Stephen Curry, forcing him into a 7-for-22 — and 3-for-13 from deep — night in his hometown.
The Warriors (11-2) opened its four-game road trip with a 106-102 loss as Charlotte snapped its seven-game winning streak. GSW’s most recent loss before Sunday was on Oct. 28 to Memphis.
Andrew Wiggins (28 points) picked up the slack as Curry (24 points) struggled, but it wasn’t enough as six Hornets scored double-digits.
Here are three takeaways from the uptempo loss in Charlotte:
LaMelo’s best Steph impression
Last time the Warriors and Hornets met, LaMelo Ball went 0-for-6 from 3 in a 22-point Golden State blowout. In his young career, Ball is a solid 35.9% 3-point shooter — more deft than many thought pre-draft.
But Ball is still most dangerous when he’s getting downhill and using his vision to make plays either for himself or teammates. Teams sometimes go under screens to bait him into taking jump shots.
Against the Warriors though, Ball was in rhythm right away. He hit four of his first five 3-point attempts, most of which came either within the flow of the offense or after a teammate kept a possession alive. He also mixed in a one-legged fadeaway from the elbow for good measure.
Behind his impressive shooting display, Ball scored 15 first-quarter points — half of Charlotte’s total. He finished with 21 points and hit more 3s (four) than Curry (three).
The Warriors could’ve lived with Ball taking off-the-dribble, partially contested 3s. At that point if he’s still hot, you just have to tip your cap. But Sunday he played within himself, taking and making high percentage shots.
Jonathan Kuminga building
Despite the need for development, Kuminga is playing so well that Steve Kerr has no choice but to give him serious run.
The rookie guarded DeMar DeRozan for a career-high 16 minutes on Friday, then was tasked with staying in front of Ball and the Hornets’ other talented wings in Charlotte.
He kept a possession alive by out-hustling multiple hornets for an offensive rebound. He stripped Miles Bridges in the post for a steal and then forced another turnover from Ball, which led to a blind Curry over the head pass for a runout. Kuminga also blew up a ball screen in the fourth quarter, playing GSW’s aggressive scheme to perfection.
Kuminga built on his career-best performance with a new career-high of nine points to go with five rebounds, two steals and a block in nine minutes. If he continues to improve every time he steps on the floor, Kuminga will surely play a major factor in Golden State’s 2021-22 campaign.
Off turnovers, defensive rebounds, and even some made baskets, both teams tried to get out and run.
Golden State was much more effective at leaking out and running the floor, scoring 15 points in transition compared to Charlotte’s 10. Part of that advantage was due to GSW being much more diligent than Charlotte at hustling back on defense.
The Warriors entered Sunday averaging an NBA-best 116.2 points per game. Charlotte was right behind them with 113.8. The Warriors lead the NBA in fast break points per game. Ball and forward Miles Bridges make one of the more fearsome open-court duos in the league.
Both teams love to run, but when the game slowed down late in the fourth quarter, the Hornets locked down Curry and stifled GSW in the halfcourt. Shots weren’t falling, and a track meet turned to a slugfest in which Charlotte outlasted the Warriors.