Once again, the Golden State Warriors started slow. Once again, that did not matter.
On Friday night, the Warriors secured their fifth-straight home win — tying their longest winning streak of the year — by a 108-99 mark over the New Orleans Pelicans. With a particularly rough stretch of games ahead, it offers something of a cushion at a 34-31.
Warriors suddenly on a roll?
The Warriors’ home record remains outrageous. It’s just as impressive as their road record is hilarious.
They are now 27-7 at home and 7-23 on the road.
At some level, we shouldn’t really be surprised that they’ve won five straight given they were all home games.
But their lineup hasn’t exactly been intimidating, and their loss to the Lakers after the All-Star break was downright embarrassing. They looked like a team playing together for the first time.
It’s taken contributions from everyone, especially in clutch moments, to turn some sketchy games into a five-game win streak.
Golden State trailed by four with less than five minutes left on Friday. In — at this point — somewhat predictable fashion, that deficit was erased, rapidly, thanks to key shooting and impressive defensive effort.
Two of the staples in this run have been the performances of Klay Thompson and Donte DiVincenzo. Jordan Poole has added points, too, but with inconsistent efficiency.
But the duo of Thompson and DiVincenzo have been downright ruthless together. Thompson looks as confident as he has all year, and hit a handful of enormous shots — some from nonsensical distances — when the Warriors needed them most. He had a clutch 27 points (10-of-17, 4-of-9 from deep) and 4 assists.
DiVincenzo, meanwhile, continued to wreak havoc defensively. He also seems to hit a three down the stretch every single game. His only points of the game came on a three with just about three minutes left to push a one-point lead to four. He had 7 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal, and cut down passing lanes with regularity.
There are plenty of other contributions that have made a difference, and that will need to continue on a three-game road stretch, and a pair of home games against the likes of the Bucks and Suns.
For now, though, there’s a lot to be happy about, especially with Stephen Curry’s return imminent.
Key contributions from Kuminga and… JaMychal Green
Jonathan Kuminga seems like he’s starting feeling himself. It’s not like he’s putting in dominant performances, but his ability to play within the scheme on both ends has been impressive.
He’s getting more used to knowing when he should take his opportunities. His post moves allow him to create spot for short mid-range jumpers that he’s connecting on more often than not, and he’s finding space to drive in transition and convert consistently.
While his defensive acumen still leaves a bit to be desired, Kuminga hasn’t been fouling nearly as recklessly as he has at other points. He hasn’t had a game with four fouls in over a month.
He was effective in every aspect against the Pelicans, adding 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and a block.
Also efficient? The often-invisible JaMychal Green.
Green has earned his fair share of criticism. He’s been a shell of his former self. He’s often the biggest player in the Warriors lineup, but has offered little in the way of rebounding or interior defense help.
He was benched in the second half of the two prior games. But on Friday, he was, well, playable. And not just playable, but good.
On offense, he was under control, and on defense, he made a difference. Green had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 6 rebounds and a couple of blocks. Those are all more than double his season average.
Kevon Looney holds it together
If you don’t love Kevon Looney, you don’t love basketball.
The man is perpetually 27 going on 35. He plays the beautiful game. That game is YMCA basketball. He knows angles intuitively. He’s crafty with the way he moves his body to box out and consistently creates just enough space for himself to steal offensive rebounds. It must be mind-boggling for an athletic center.
It feels like the vertically-challenged embodiment of this Dennis Rodman meme on rebounding:
Looney has moments in every game that highlight his value to the Warriors. He is so much more than the glue for this team.
He gets defensive rebounds in moments they need to slow the pace and get into their sets on the other end. He secures offensive rebounds when they need second chance opportunities desperately.
You’d be hard pressed to find a moment when he is not in the right place defensively. He consistently makes shots difficult for opposing teams and execute switches with a fluidity that rarely gets enough credit. In a league that’s less than superb, or interested in playing defense during the regular season, he is a consistent outlier.
On Friday, he was his usual, effective self, tallying 10 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists. He’s an inspiration to every tall person with a bad vert.