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3 takeaways from wire-to-wire Warriors blowout over Spurs

© Kelley L Cox | 2022 Nov 14

The Warriors took an early double-digit lead and never looked back, putting together their most complete win since the season opener. 

Jordan Poole, in the starting lineup because Klay Thompson doesn’t play back-to-backs, dropped a season-high 36 points on 13-for-20 shooting. A more balanced bench kept the starters’ momentum and the Warriors defense held San Antonio to 68 points through three quarters.

On a night in which Christian McCaffrey, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Hunter Pence and Joc Pederson sat courtside, the Warriors (6-8) put on a show. As a team, the Warriors shot 54% from the field, 51% from 3 and 94% from the foul line. It was also the first time this year they held an opponent under 100 points. 

Golden State heads to Phoenix with a convincing 132-95 win. 

Here are three takeaways from the wire-to-wire GSW victory. 

Poole Party 

Before the game, Kerr said that he thinks Poole has been pressing. That’s unsurprising, given his eventful offseason, officiating emphasis focused on limiting carry violations and a shooting slump that — by his standards — has seeped even into his foul shooting. That’s a lot for any player, let alone a 23-year-old, to handle. 

Poole has looked tentative off the dribble. He’s passed out of layups. He’s deferred when he’s supposed to be the focal point. 

None of Poole’s hesitancy showed Monday night. He was aggressive from the jump, enjoying the benefit of not having San Antonio’s best defender on him. Since he started in Thompson’s place, Poole could get a rhythm going early. 

The guard canned seven of his first nine shots. He dusted Jeremy Sochan with a behind-the-back move and finished with his left hand at the rim, leading Stephen Curry to shimmy in support from the bench. 

He sank a deep 3 to convert the front end of a two-for-one. 

On another play, he intercepted a pass intended for Curry in the corner and drilled a 3-pointer. 

His third-quarter 3 on the fast break, then alley-oop lob to Andrew Wiggins, pushed Golden State’s lead to what was then a game-high 29. 

For the first time since seemingly Ring Night, the Warriors won the non-Steph minutes — thanks to Poole. Being able to tread water when Curry sits has been a struggle throughout the dynasty, but this year it’s been particularly dark. 

An assertive, dynamic Poole certainly helps solve that problem. Maybe every night should be his Bobble Head Night. 

Rejiggered bench 

Neither Moses Moody nor JaMychal Green had played in Golden State’s previous two games. They were the first guys up off the bench on Monday. 

Jonathan Kuminga again played in the first half and spent his first 17 minutes a perfect 4-for-4 (2-for-2 from 3) from the field. Giving him a chance in the first half, seeing what kind of Kuminga shows up and going from there isn’t a terrible idea. 

For the first time in weeks, Steve Kerr went with a full bench unit Poole, Moody, Kuminga, Green and Anthony Lamb for a stretch. And it wasn’t even disastrous. In fact, the unit slightly pushed GSW’s lead in the first half. 

Even James Wiseman, who’s been in the dog house for weeks, got to play some mop-up minutes when GSW lead stretched to 35. 

A good chunk of it came in garbage time, but the bench scored 64 points. They executed so well, no starter had to play more than 30 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. The Warriors couldn’t have asked for anything more. 

Too early for grand ‘proclamations’ 

Monday was Golden State’s “Run TMC” takeover night, meaning Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond — plus sideline reporter Tom Tolbert — called the game. 

Before tipoff, the famous trio addressed the media. Coincidentally, they happen to be part of the last Warriors team to start at least 0-7 on the road, so Mullin tried to put things into perspective after Hardaway stumbled through an answer. 

“Trying to figure things out,” Mullins said about the current Warriors. “This is a unique situation, with this group. Because you’re talking about a dynasty and trying to extend way beyond any dynasty we’ve seen in the past. The Celtics, the Lakers, the Bulls, they all broke up before this point in time. So they’re trying to extend this run with Steph, Klay, Draymond and Andre into their mid-30s. That’s a tough thing to do…It’s very early in the season. So trying to bridge that gap and find that connection from the first unit to the second unit.” 

That gap Mullin mentioned is the widest in the league. Golden State’s starting lineup has a +24 net rating, first among any five-man combination with at least 100 minutes played. The Warriors’ problems arrive whenever the bench enters. 

It makes sense that, especially this early in the year, not everything is clicking with the inexperienced players. The Warriors hoped Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman could placate Jordan Poole in a young, athletic second unit. That hasn’t manifested in the slightest.

Wiseman is benched. Moody returned to the rotation Monday. Poole dazzled against the Spurs but has mostly struggled. Kuminga’s still finding a role. 

How much of these early season struggles were baked in? 

“I don’t think we knew quite what to expect,” Steve Kerr said. “Frankly, there’s been some bumps in the road for us here in the early going. And it’s affected just the overall rhythm, the ability to find groups that make the most sense…so it’s just going to take some time. I think it’s a mistake to issue any proclamations at this point. We’re 13 games in. We need to really work and put our minds in it, put our hearts in it, and see where we are a month from now, two months from now.” 

The defending champions have earned time to figure things out. There shouldn’t be any grand proclamations, either way, this early in the season. A blowout against the tanking Spurs shouldn’t change that.

 

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