Moses Moody started Tuesday out of the Warriors’ rotation, but he ended up lighting up the Kings and keeping the Warriors in the game in a tightly contested fourth quarter.
Moody went 4-for-4 with three 3-pointers in the period, including a stepback over Sasha Vezenkov as the shot clock expired. He also added strong defense, at one point staying in front of a driving De’Aaron Fox for a stop.
Despite his outstanding play, and despite Steve Kerr having said that the Warriors need to find more minutes for the third-year wing, Moody sat on the bench in the game’s most important moments.
For the final 4:26, Kerr went with his veteran starting five of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. Key turnovers from Green and Curry in the night’s waning moment cemented a collapse in Golden State’s 124-123 loss.
“Moses was awesome tonight,” Kerr said postgame, via The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “We needed to get Wiggs on the floor for defense against (De’Aaron) Fox. And we decided to go with Klay and our vets. We thought about keeping him out there, but we made the move that we made.”
Kerr has been patient with that starting five, sticking with it despite early season slumps from Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins — both of whom played well in Sacramento. The group, though, had been outscored by 12.2 points per 100 possessions entering Tuesday.
Moody wasn’t even supposed to play against the Kings, Kerr later revealed. Against the Kings in a game that decided who went to the knockout round of the In-Season Tournament, Golden State wanted to tighten its rotation. But injuries to Chris Paul (lower left leg soreness) and Gary Payton II (right calf) thrusted Moody into action.
He stayed ready.
“Moses was fantastic,” Kerr said. “Out of the rotation tonight to start the game. Talked to him before the game and explained what we were doing. He reminds me of Loon, Moses. He’s the ultimate pro. Just continues to work every single day. Understands, embraces coaching. Embraces the work. Moses, he’s a special guy. He’s like a wing version of Loon. And that matters, that’s why he’s going to be in the league for a long time.”
Moody looked comfortable when the Warriors played small with Green at the five, making him the prototypical stretch-four à la Harrison Barnes.
In 13 minutes, Moody posted 11 points, two assists, an offensive rebound and no turnovers. He made all four of his field goals. If that type of performance couldn’t get Moody a chance to finish — either over Thompson or Looney — it’s unclear what would.