The Golden State Warriors put together an impressive and gritty win over the Miami Heat on Monday night, winning 115-108 despite an off night from Steph Curry. It was a performance that showed off the team’s depth, and reminded everyone that they’re far more than just Curry — even if the chef is the MVP at this point in the season.
So let’s grade the players to see who stood out. As always, we’ll weight for our expectations of each player.
36 minutes, 5 points, 8 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 2-for-5 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, +10
Green returned from the health and safety protocols and jumped right into action, playing more minutes than any other Warrior, setting the tone on defense, and providing a third of the team’s 39 assists, a sensational number.
If he’s not in the All-Star Game (he’ll be in the All-Star Game), we riot.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds and assists.
34 minutes, 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 1 foul, 8-for-13 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, +13
While I don’t agree with the many Warriors fans clamoring for Wiggins to earn his first All-Star bid, games like Monday’s certainly make the argument compelling. With Curry struggling, Wiggins stepped up, dropping in 12 first-quarter points, and helping carry the offense. His defense was strong, he didn’t stop the ball nearly as much as in his Minnesota days, and the team generally looked much better when he was on the court.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
25 minutes, 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 3-for-5 shooting, +6
Just another day at the office for Looney, who has been consistently quite good after a slow start to the season. The playmaking has been awesome lately for the Dubs’ center, as this marked his fifth straight game with multiple assists, and gave him 12 dimes in his last three games.
32 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 3-for-17 shooting, 1-for-10 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 0 +/-
The most memorable and telling moment of Curry’s night came in the second half, when he turned the corner past the Miami defense, and waltzed towards an entirely unprotected rim. Curry was fouled from behind, but it was a touch foul — it didn’t throw him off balance, and his arms weren’t hit. He had a free layup for a three-point play ... but missed the uncontested finger roll.
Standing under the hoop after the whistle blew, Curry stared off into the stands for a good five seconds, chewing on his mouth guard and smiling that smile we all smile when things just aren’t going our way. Maybe another day.
Curry dished assists and barely turned the ball over. He played good defense. And he, the greatest shooter in NBA history, simply could not buy a bucket even when Miami tried to give it to him.
Just how it goes some days.
Gary Payton II
30 minutes, 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block, 7-for-12 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, -2
GP2 kept his spot in the starting lineup, and when you watched him D up Kyle Lowry, you were reminded why.
The pickpocketry (is that a word? I don’t think that’s a word. I don’t care, I’m using it as a word) is almost unfathomable at this point.
Gary Payton II has to be leading the NBA in steals in the final 15 seconds of a quarter.— Sean Keane (@seankeane) January 4, 2022
11 minutes, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 4-for-8 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 0 +/-
Bjelica deserves to play more minutes. I don’t say that to criticize Steve Kerr — Bjeli can’t get more minutes without it coming at the expense of someone who also deserves them. It’s the champagne problem the Warriors have with such a deep roster, which would was a laughable concept this time last year.
So I feel for Bjelica, but he sure makes the most of his minutes when he gets them.
7 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1-for-2 shooting, -6
Kuminga didn’t really do much of note, but the fact that he’s getting inconsistent minutes and still able to step into the middle of a close game and not do bad things is impressive.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
Otto Porter Jr.
19 minutes, 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 4-for-10 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, -2
Porter might be the most trusted bench piece for Kerr right now (not including Poole, if you can call him a bench piece). He simply does things right. He provides a jolt of offense, crashes the glass, fits the offensive system perfectly, and seems to have no problems with whatever his defensive assignment is.
9 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 foul, 0-for-1 shooting, 2-for-2 free throws, +3
Like Bjelica, JTA deserves more minutes than he sometimes gets. Like Bjelica, JTA made the most of the ones he had in this game.
What a defender he is!
11 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 foul, 1-for-2 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, +2
After missing four games in the health and safety protocols, it was tremendous to see Lee back on the court for the first time in two weeks (especially given how severe his bout of the coronavirus was during the 2020-21 season).
He provided a lift, as he so often does.
19 seconds, 0 points, 1 foul, -1
I bet they felt good, though.
26 minutes, 32 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 12-for-17 shooting, 5-for-9 threes, 3-for-5 free throws, +12
And last but certainly not least, we arrive at the star of the show.
Poole began the game on the bench, but entered quickly when Curry had foul trouble. And then he took off. And he never stopped. He had 14 points in the first quarter, all the answers when Miami started to threaten, and a handful of key buckets down the stretch to put the game away.
On top of the hyper-efficient scoring outburst, he dished out a quintet of dimes while taking care of the rock.
32 PTS | 12-17 FG | 5-9 3FG— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 4, 2022
Jordan Poole provided a spark off the bench pic.twitter.com/MK3hbAxdyG
As I mentioned in the recap, performances like this are a huge part of why the Warriors are so much better this season than last. A year ago, they get destroyed if Curry shoots 3-for-17. This year? Poole is there to pick things up, with a performance that would have been a notable night even if Curry had done it.
Everything else about it may have been awful, but if nothing else we can remember that the one good thing about 2021 is that Jordan Poole absolutely arrived.— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) January 4, 2022
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
Monday’s DNPs: Chris Chiozza, Andre Iguodala, Moses Moody
Monday’s inactives: Klay Thompson, James Wiseman