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3 takeaways from short-handed Warriors blowout loss to Pelicans

© Stephen Lew | 2022 Nov 21

Without every starter except Kevon Looney, the Warriors weren’t competitive against a full-strength New Orleans Pelicans squad. 

Golden State trailed by around 20 for most of the game, and by as much as 45. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins got the night off, and Looney played just five minutes.

The youngster Warriors, expectedly, couldn’t hang. Golden State recorded 16 assists to a season-high 27 turnovers as a team. After the 128-83 beatdown, the Warriors (8-10) are now 1-9 on the road this season. 

Here are three takeaways from Golden State’s short-staffed blowout loss.

Undermanned and overmatched 

The Warriors didn’t have a chance without their four best players, and it showed almost immediately. 

The first quarter, which ended with a Pelicans 35-16 advantage, was ugly. Golden State finished the period with more turnovers (7) and fouls (8) than field goals made (6). 

The Warriors tried, and failed, to play zone. They tried running offense through JaMychal Green in the post — a comically fraught concept. They shot 1-for-8 from 3 and often finished possessions without touching the paint. 

New Orleans’ dominance could have been even more striking, as the Pelicans had two and-ones called back because GSW fouls were questionably deemed on the floor. 

The Pelicans led by at least 20 for most of the game. Fun-sized Warriors runs halted by either turnovers or a perimeter attack that shot 23.3% from 3. 

The Warriors got out-rebounded, outscored in the paint, out-passed and outran. New Orleans scored 60 points in the paint compared to the Warriors’ 36.

It was never close. The Pelicans punked them. 

Flashpoints of why Jonathan Kuminga remains so tantalizing 

A seven-second sequence reminded anyone why Jonathan Kuminga can be special. 

At halfcourt, Zion Williamson speed-dribbled past Kuminga. His shoulders extended past the Warriors forward, and only one defender stood between Williamson and the rim. 

That freeze-frame — Zion, backpedaling defender, basket — is among the most exciting moments in basketball. The situation almost always results in carnage at the rim. 

Instead of Williamson cocking back a sledgehammer dunk like he might normally, Kuminga made up the ground, leapt with Williamson — nobody jumps with Zion — and swatted his attempt with two hands. 

There are only a handful of humans in the world capable of chasing down Zion. Kuminga is, apparently, one of them. 

Kuminga’s athleticism will never be in question. But it’s still remarkable when it pops. 

Later, Kuminga made another sensational play by skying for an offensive rebound, corralling it with one hand and slamming it down in one motion. He did it all while getting so much air his head hit the bottom of the backboard. 

Kuminga still struggled. He shot too many outside shots; it feels like he can take just about any defender off the dribble. But the 20-year-old battled with Williamson and finished with 18 points — albeit on 6-for-20 shooting. 

When Kuminga gets extended playing time, it seems like he always uses the opportunity to make highlight plays. Much of the action between those awe-inspiring moments still needs work, and Monday was no different. 

Taking care of the ball 

Even without Curry, Thompson, Green and Wiggins, the Warriors’ coaching staff surely expects their team to play with more poise than they did against New Orleans. 

In the first half alone, Golden State coughed up 15 turnovers. Eventually the total ballooned to a season-worst 27. 

They came from rookies, veterans, journeymen and champions. Errant passes, lazy dribbles, poor decisions and offensive fouls. 

Poole committed four. Rookie Ryan Rollins registered five in 17 minutes. Kuminga, Green and Moses Moody each added three. 

GSW’s previous season-high of 22 also came when it was severely short-handed against the Pelicans. New Orleans has a strong defense, led by savants Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado, but that kind of performance is gross regardless.

 

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