Despite a furious Oklahoma City surge for the last 18 minutes of regulation, the Warriors had a fantastic chance to win.
Andrew Wiggins’ 3-pointer off a Kevon Looney offensive rebound — opportunities that have come frequently in the matchup against the undersized Thunder — put the Warriors up 117-114 with 1.1 seconds.
The Thunder’s comeback appeared slightly short. But not to Chet Holmgren.
Holmgren, the rookie phenom, caught the inbounds pass in the corner, made sure his feet were behind the 3-point line, and fired a fadeaway 3-pointer as time expired. He pounded his chest as he sent the game into overtime.
Holmgren’s clutch 3 was only possible because the Warriors elected not to foul immediately, which would have sent Holmgren to the free throw line for two shots down 3.
Then Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took over, handing the Warriors their sixth straight loss by scoring 10 of Oklahoma City’s 13 overtime points. He alone outscored Golden State when it mattered most.
Golden State’s 130-123 defeat capped a brutal stretch of schedule in which the Warriors (6-8) faced six straight playoff contenders. They went winless in the span, playing much of it without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green or both.
Saturday, Curry returned after missing two games for a minor knee injury, but Green (suspension) remained out. Andrew Wiggins stepped up to produce his best game of the season, but Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren carried Oklahoma City to a massive comeback.
Here are three takeaways from Golden State’s loss.
Andrew Wiggins entered Saturday night last in the NBA in box plus-minus and true shooting percentage (min. 100 field goal attempts).
That’s not what the Warriors had in mind for the forward in the first year of his four-year, $109 million extension.
Wiggins can’t be as bad as the first 13 games of the season. Some degree of bounce-back is inevitable.
At least some came on Saturday, when the veteran dropped a season-high 31 points on 12-for-19 shooting.
Wiggins looked hesitant to shoot from the outside early on, and his jumper hasn’t looked right all year. Most of Wiggins’ damage came in the paint or from the midrange, where he was evidently more comfortable.
But as the teams exchanged fourth-quarter upper cuts, Wiggins sank each of the four biggest 3-pointers of the game to keep the Warriors in it.
Wiggins was probably approaching a danger zone of possibly losing minutes to Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody. But his performance Saturday reminded everyone why Kerr would be wise to stick with him.
Klay Thompson: take the good with the bad.
All it took was Curry’s return to free up Klay Thompson.
Against a healthy portion of Luguentz Dort and Cason Wallace on Thursday, when Thompson was Golden State’s primary option, the shooting guard scored just five points on 1-for-10 shooting.
He scored more points in the first four minutes of Saturday’s contest than he did in the entire previous matchup.
Thompson had more space to release his shots and more time to set his feet. Like Wiggins, he’s bound for a fair amount of positive regression.
During the fourth quarter and overtime, as Thompson’s minutes crept over 30, he became less and less of a factor. That’s understandable for a 33-year-old a couple years removed from Achilles and ACL injuries.
Thompson took a handful of ill-advised shots in OT, but they were the types of shots he has hit in his career. Even as recently as last year, when he had two of the hottest months of his life, he was capable of hitting difficult shots.
Saturday wasn’t a breakout for Thompson. But it was a step in the right direction, if not a reminder that he may be suited to cede some of his minutes to players like Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga in order to maximize his production.
Chet Holmgren is here to stay
The 21-year-old forward could torment the Warriors for the next decade.
Holmgren is a nightmare matchup for the Warriors, who don’t have the bodies to throw at the 7-foot-1 phenom — especially without Green.
Teams have had the most success against Holmgren with physicality, bumping him off the block and preventing him from rolling straight to the hoop. Golden State provided little resistance Saturday.
Holmgren’s imprints on the game were ubiquitous. He finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. He hit midrange jumpers, two 3-pointers, layups, dunks and floaters. He played within the Thunder’s offense and anchored their defense, constantly turning away Golden State drivers and cutters from the rim merely via his presence.
The Warriors had to absorb Holmgren’s best game as a pro. But it won’t be the last time he imposes his will over a game; GSW will have to contend with Holmgren and a new wave of talent for years to come.