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3 takeaways as Warriors lose thriller, Kuminga again impresses

© Kevin Jairaj | 2022 Nov 29

The Golden State Warriors’ 116-113 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday was a thriller.

After a slow start that seemed to foreshadow a blowout, the Warriors clawed back in the second quarter and traded punches with Dallas for the remainder of the night. It was a game that looked every bit like it was between teams that faced each other in the postseason last year.

The game’s crucial stretch began at the three-minute mark. With the Mavs up four, Jonathan Kuminga hit a huge corner 3 at the end of the shot clock to cut the lead to one. It was Kuminga’s biggest shot on a night he was fantastic.

The Warriors got a stop on the other end, and Curry gave the Warriors the lead with a 3 of his own, one of the absurd variety.

It felt like a tipping point, but the Mavs got back off the mat.

Tim Hardaway Jr. nailed a quick 3 at the other end to reclaim the lead with less than two minutes remaining. Kerr called the response the “key shot down the stretch.” Luka Doncic then blocked Steph at the other end and Josh Green hit a two in the paint to extend the lead back to three. That would be the difference.

It looked like Steph had a chance at heroics with 10.1 seconds left, but he was called for a phantom travel behind the 3-point line.

They got an even better chance at the buzzer, when Klay Thompson got a clean look from 3 to tie it. Instead, it bounced off the front rim.

All in all, it was a fun one that included a number of positives for the Warriors despite the loss. Here are three takeaways:

JK’s stock skyrocketing

There was a time not long ago when Kuminga couldn’t sniff the floor. Now the Warriors can’t keep him off it.

After a head turning performance on Sunday in Minnesota, Kuminga cemented his place in the Warriors rotation, playing so well on Tuesday that he earned 26 minutes and saw time down the stretch.

JK was awesome on both ends. He finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, was a team-high plus-21 and spent large stretches of the game guarding and locking down Doncic.

In the first half he was arguably the Warriors’ most impactful player, with a team high plus-19 despite the Warriors being down a point, and scoring eight points with five rebounds, an assist and a block.

Had Golden State won, his 3-pointer in the fourth quarter would’ve been seen as the catalyst.

It’s a fantastic sign for the Warriors, as Kuminga is the only one of the players from the 2020-2021 draft classes to have earned a spot in the rotation so far this season. James Wiseman is in the middle of a G League assignment, while Moses Moody is riding the bench consistently.

It’s also a great sign that Kuminga is now stacking good games, this one coming after an impressive showing in Minnesota. On Tuesday, he was easily their best wing (is he a wing?) off the bench, and maybe their best wing overall.

Second unit keeps Warriors alive

For much of the season, the Warriors starters have dominated while the bench unit is a boat that won’t stop leaking. On Tuesday the roles were reversed.

The Golden State starters fell in a hole early, primarily due to an opening eight minutes where they scored only six points, all via Kevon Looney.

A few weeks ago, down 12 to start the second quarter on the road would essentially mean the Warriors lost. On Tuesday, that stretch kept the Warriors in the game. The bench unit went plus-10 in the second quarter, and was a big part of why GS trailed by only a point at halftime.

It wasn’t just Kuminga that was excellent. Donte DiVincenzo was plus-15 and had seven rebounds after a 14-point performance vs. the Wolves. Jordan Poole was incredible as a facilitator, his nine assists leading the team and giving Golden State a number of easy baskets created by the drive and kick. Anthony Lamb (11 points) continues to be an absolute find and a danger behind the 3-point line. His 2-of-4 from downtown keep his season average over 40 percent.

It was about as rocky a start as it could’ve been for the Warriors reserves to start the season, but the four-man bench rotation of Poole, DiVincenzo, Lamb, Kuminga and to a lesser extent JaMychal Green is getting it done. Most impressively they are getting it done defensively and on the road.

The starters meanwhile, just had an off night. Klay had five points and was 2-of-9. Wiggins had 10 points and was 4-of-11. Their shooting struggles contributed heavily to the team as a whole shooting 25% from 3.

Steph vs. Luka

It was a slow start for both players, but Tuesday’s matchup between two potential MVPs mostly lived up to the the hype.

The two players entered the game as the strongest guards in the league, with Doncic No. 1 in ESPN’s real-plus minus stat and Curry at No. 2.

Luka got the better of Tuesday’s exchange, putting the Mavs offense on his back for large stretches of the game as he typically does. His defense down the stretch was as impressive as his shot making. In addition to the incredible 41, 12 and 12 line, he added four steals.

The way he’s playing right now, Luka is essentially un-guardable one-on-one. Doncic is excellent at hunting switches, and uses those advantages to either score himself, or throw precise passes to open teammates. Both Kuminga and Thompson did admirable jobs on Doncic at times, but too often he was able to find the matchups he wanted and took advantage.

Steph was typically excellent, but has set the bar so high it seemed like a down night. He finished with 32 points, five rebounds and five assists and was 5-of-14 from 3.

 

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