The Golden State Warriors beat the Utah Jazz 94-92 on Sunday night, and while it was a close, tense game that they nearly threw away, it was also an impressive win. Despite the absence of Draymond Green, Golden State put together a strong defensive effort against the league’s top offense (though admittedly Utah was missing Donovan Mitchell).
It was a much-needed victory over an elite team, after a rough end to last week, which saw the Dubs fall to an Indiana Pacers team that was without their five best players, and need a Steph Curry buzzer-beater to escape a lottery-bound Houston Rockets squad.
It still wasn’t pretty, but it was a step in the right direction. Now let’s grade the players, weighting for expectation.
Otto Porter Jr.
31 minutes, 13 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 1 block, 5-for-7 shooting, 3-for-4 threes, +7
There was a whole lot to love about this performance from Porter. He played starter minutes and kept the effort level high throughout. He was a highly efficient scorer. He filled up some important holes on the box score.
But my favorite part of his game? The areas of the box score that he didn’t fill out. The Dubs have struggled with sloppiness and a lack of discipline lately, and it’s cost them big time. To see Porter play a full 31 minutes with nary a turnover nor a foul was downright awesome.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
35 minutes, 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 6-for-17 shooting, 1-for-5 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, +10
Steph Curry’s shooting slump has gotten the bulk of the headlines, but Wiggins is mired in a pretty bad one as well. Over his last 10 games, Wiggins is shooting 44.7% from the field and 32.7% from three-point range, with just three games during that span where he made at least half of his shots.
This was another step in the wrong direction for Wiggins, who needed 18 shooting possessions to record 14 points, while having just a single assist. But unlike in Friday’s game, his defense returned to a high level, and he played a large role in the Dubs doing just enough.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
28 minutes, 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 4-for-5 shooting, 2-for-2 free throws, +10
Looney’s streak of double-digit rebounds came to a screeching halt, as he struggled to nab boards agains the league’s top rebounder, Rudy Gobert. But he played great defense on Gobert — and Utah’s perimeter players, when switched out — and once again did really nice things on offense, scoring efficiently and consistently making the right reads.
He also had perhaps the biggest play of the game.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
35 minutes, 13 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 5-for-20 shooting, 1-for-13 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, -5
We’re still a few months away from being worried about Curry’s shot, but it’s definitely sad to watch at the moment. In his last 10 games he’s shooting 35.1% (66-for-187) from the field and 27.6% (29-for-105) from distance.
But if you’re looking for a reason to think that the Warriors recent foibles won’t last, there it is. Do you think Steph Curry is going to be a 35.1% shooter going forward, who makes shots from distance notably less frequently than Russell Westbrook? No? Then things will probably get quite a bit better for the team going forward.
Credit to Curry for taking care of the ball lately. In his last five games he has 36 assists to just seven turnovers.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
34 minutes, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 7-for-13 shooting, 4-for-9 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, +6
Poole was kind of the offense in this game. Golden State had six players hit double figures, but Poole was the only one to score more than 14 points. He has, at times, struggled to pick up the scoring slack when the team is sinking — totally understandable for a 22-year old third-year player — so it was nice to see him put the team on his back a little.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
20 minutes, 6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 2-for-4 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, -8
I still feel bad that Bjelica so often gets the ignominious title of “worst plus/minus on the team.” It’s absolutely a result of his lineup placement, not of his ability, so it keeps happening.
Solid game all around from Bjeli, whose playmaking has really been on display lately.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
8 minutes, 0 points, 1 assist, 1 foul, 0-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0 plus/minus
Kind of a nothing game from Kuminga, which in many regards makes sense. This is the type of matchup — an incredibly smart, disciplined team, that has essentially no holes to exploit — that a rookie can struggle against.
7 minutes, 0 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, -6
JTA didn’t see his number called very often, but when he did he was ready with some tough defense and rebounding.
24 minutes, 12 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 4-for-8 shooting, 4-for-6 threes, +1
I’ve been noticing a lot of people on social media being very over the top in their criticism of Lee lately, so I like to think that he had this shooting performance just for them.
There were some areas of concern — the turnovers and fouls continue to be oddly high — but he was a spark plug off the bench.
Gary Payton II
17 minutes, 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 fouls, 3-for-7 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, -5
GP2 leads the league in steals per 100 possessions, and he’s been blocking a lot of shots lately, as well. And while he’s been fitting into the offense quite well, what’s really impressive is how often he’s able to use his defense to directly generate offense, often in the form of one-on-zero fast breaks after a steal.
Sunday’s DNPs: Chris Chiozza, Moses Moody
Sunday’s inactives: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Quinndary Weatherspoon, James Wiseman