One game after losing to a team they were supposed to beat, the Warriors dominated an opponent they were supposed to dominate.
Bouncing back from a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State (20-4) handled Orlando on Monday in the Chase Center, 126-95. Andrew Wiggins drilled a career-high eight 3-pointers and Stephen Curry inched closer to the all-time record with seven 3s of his own. Their scoring bursts helped GSW to a healthy 20-point lead it sustained for the majority of play.
Here are three takeaways from the blowout win:
Kerr shows trust early
One game after falling behind by 15 and allowing 36 first-quarter points to the lowly San Antonio Spurs, the Warriors once again came out flat.
Gary Harris drilled a corner 3. Franz Wagner scored inside. Harris added an and-1 and two free throws from Wendell Carter gave the Magic a 9-0 lead.
The Warriors had gone over two minutes without scoring. Many other coaches likely would have called a timeout to try to regroup their teams. But GSW head coach Steve Kerr let those on the court play it out.
And play it out, they did. Curry took advantage of Orlando’s drop coverage pick-and-roll scheme, drilling two 3-pointers. Andrew Wiggins added a 3-pointer and then a Curry-less lineup continued to stymie the Magic, continuing a run that ballooned to 16-1.
After digging itself a hole, Golden State won the first quarter, 31-26. Curry’s buzzer-beating halfcourt shot helped, but Kerr deciding not to call timeout showed his faith in his team worked.
Jordan Poole’s handles
Sharing a court with Stephen Curry, it must be hard to earn attention for adept ballhandling. But Jordan Poole has accomplished that routinely.
Several times every game, Poole will create space in the halfcourt by navigating tight defense and snake-dribbling out of it. Sometimes he’ll push the ball across the paint to find room to rise up. Sometimes he’ll make the same dribble move to split a double team.
Poole has become a master of escaping close-quarter defense and opening up the court. He broke out a new move on Monday night, putting the ball between his legs and spinning baseline in one motion to confound Wendell Carter Jr.
Some players have handles just to have them. They’re more of a flashy accessory than a utility. Poole unleashes his handles adeptly and opportunistically.
A quintessential Andrew Wiggins play
Wiggins helps the Warriors in a countless amount of ways, but one 15-second stretch in the third quarter showed — boiled down in its simplest form — exactly what the Warriors want Wiggins to be.
At his best, and for the Warriors to reach their peak, Wiggins needs to be a souped up 3-and-D wing. The cliché doesn’t exactly capture how Wiggins can contribute, but again: that’s the basic job description.
It started on defense. Wiggins used his quick hands to poke away a Franz Wagner dribble during a pick-and-roll. Wiggins pushed the ball in transition, but found Poole shortly after crossing halfcourt. He didn’t try to do too much.
After passing to Poole, Wiggins relocated to the corner. Moments later, Curry whipped a cross-court pass to him, and the forward drilled a 3-pointer. Three-and-Dee.
That’s what the Warriors need out of Wiggins. They can be thrilled with all the other stuff — on Monday, that included the three additional 3-pointers that came directly after that steal-and-score.
Wiggins (28 points) finished off the Magic with eight 3-pointers on 10 tries. Even though he’s converting at a career-best clip from behind the arc, the Warriors don’t need him to have a flaming hot hand every night. All they really need is the 15-second burst against Wagner and in transition.