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3 takeaways as Warriors lose in Andre Iguodala’s season debut

© Kelley L Cox | 2023 Jan 7

Possibly the loudest the Chase Center crowd got came four minutes into the first quarter when the public address announcer bellowed Andre Iguodala’s name. 

Iguodala, who turns 39 this month, made his season debut, but his 19th season began with a handy loss. 

The veteran didn’t score in his 12 minutes, and the Warriors allowed 115 points to the Magic, who entered the game ranked 26th in offensive rating. Jordan Poole only registered 21 points on 5-for-17 shooting while Anthony Lamb led GSW with a career-high 26 points. 

Orlando outscored Golden State 53 to 42 in the second half. The Warriors (20-20) are now 0-4 against the Magic and Pistons, two of the worst teams in the NBA. 

Along with Iguodala’s debut, Andrew Wiggins returned from injury but Klay Thompson got scratched from the lineup before tipoff with left knee soreness. 

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ loss. 

Wiggins return gets Warriors one step closer to where they need to be

After missing 15 games with an abdomen injury and then a non-COVID-19 illness, Andrew Wiggins returned to the court. 

The 15-game absence is the longest of Wiggins’ career. He’d only missed 20 combined games in the previous two seasons. 

Wiggins sank his first 3-pointer, but missed his next three. He played stout defense but struggled to contain Magic rookie Paolo Banchero, and finished with 12 points on 4-for-12 shooting. He only played 19 minutes in his first action back. 

With Wiggins back — assuming Thompson’s knee injury isn’t serious — the Warriors are one Stephen Curry shy of reuniting the best five-man unit in the NBA. Golden State’s traditional starting unit of Curry, Klay Thompson, Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney has a +23 net rating — highest of any five-player combination that’s played at least 200 minutes. 

And Curry, who went through an intense warmup Saturday after a short scrimmage Friday, is nearing a return. 

And once Golden State’s starting five returns in full, they may be buoyed by more confident reserves behind them now that players like Donte DiVincenzo, Ty Jerome, Anthony Lamb have experienced increased usage recently. 

Anthony Lamb is forcing the Warriors’ hand 

Two-way players can only be on a team’s active roster for 50 games, forcing the Warriors to make decisions on both Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome. 

Given how well Lamb has performed, the Warriors might have no other choice but to convert his contract and slide him into their open 15th roster spot. 

On Saturday, Lamb started red-hot, sinking five of his first eight triples. He was so confident, he tried a step-back attempt in the corner. 

But Lamb is far from a 3-point specialist. One defensive stop, he left his assignment in the corner to double-team Markelle Fultz along the baseline, forcing a turnover. In the third quarter, he flashed his instincts by picking off a skip pass intended for a shooter in the corner.

He plays smart basketball on both ends, a prerequisite for the Warriors. 

Lamb producing isn’t new, either. He dropped 17 in both of Golden State’s last two games and has been valuable all year. He’s included in three of GSW’s five top-performing lineups

At halftime, Lamb racked up 22 points — matching his previous career-high. No other Warrior was in double figures. 

Lamb cooled off significantly in the second half, misfiring on six consecutive 3s, but still finished with a career-high 26 points. 

Too 3-happy

Curiously, without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors took more 3-pointers than ever against the Magic. 

Twenty-six of Golden State’s first 35 field goal attempts came from behind the arc, a ludicrous ratio. Many of the looks were created by kicking out from dribble penetration, and Orlando did play a zone for a portion of the game, but that heavy lean toward perimeter shooting can’t be ideal. 

The shot selection didn’t hurt the Warriors while their 3s were going in, but eventually caught up to them. In the third quarter, when the Magic outscored the Warriors 30 to 23, GSW went 3 for 11 (27.2%) from deep. 

In total, the Warriors attempted 58 3-pointers, one shy of their season-high.

 

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