Not even a trip to the Cajun food capital of the world could heat up the Golden State Warriors’ cold shooting Thursday night, who lost to the New Orleans Pelicans, TK-TK. With Steph Curry and Draymond Green out, the Warriors needed someone else to step up. They got that from Andrew Wiggins and their two teenagers, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. They didn’t get that from Jordan Poole until the final minute, when he scored 11 points in a furious comeback that fell just short, as the New Orleans Pelicans dealt the Warriors their second straight loss, 101-96. It’s the first time all year the Warriors have lost two games in a row, and they fall to 29-9.
New Orleans got 32 points and 11 rebounds from Brandon Ingram, along with six assists. Herb Jones played excellent defense and chipped in 13 timely points of his own. Jonas Valanciunas couldn’t exploit his considerable size advantage on the Warriors by scoring himself, but he also dominated the game while he was in, finishing with a plus-minus of +14. In a telling first quarter, JV had four rebounds and three assists in the first quarter, but only delivered 2 points. Jaxson Hayes was terrific in his 11 minutes, with two huge blocks and five points on two shots.
The Warriors looked absolutely dead, down 94-84 with 1:27 to go in the game. But then the Warriors came back hard. Poole finally made a basket, sinking a layup. Then hit a very deep three. Then Kuminga stole the ball from Devonte’ Graham, leading to an immediate layup, and suddenly it was a three-point game.
Ingram and Poole traded foul shots, then the Warriors forced a big Graham missed three. But they couldn’t corral the long rebound, which bounced at a wild angle right off Moody’s hands. Poole had to foul Josh Hart as he grabbed the loose ball. Gary Clark blocked a Poole three-pointer, and that was all she wrote for the Dubs.
The Golden State Warriors were without Steph Curry (quad contusion) and Draymond Green (hip soreness, aka, the NBA requires a medical reason to rest players on the road). They were also without Juan Toscano-Anderson, so Jordan Poole and Otto Porter Jr. moved into the starting lineup.
The Warriors started 1-for-9 from the field, but they played defense. So when they made their second field goal just before the six-minute mark, they only trailed 6-5. Wiggins came out of the first timeout with a drive and an and-one on Devonte’ Graham. Then Porter hit a three and disrupted a Pelicans’ possession with a knocked-away pass. Maple Jordan beat the shot clock with a stepback jumper to complete a 9-0 Dubs run.
The absence of Curry and Green meant the Warriors’ rookies saw early action. Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody both closed the first quarter, with the Warriors leading 21-16. In what might be the highlight of his career so far, Kuminga grabbed four offensive rebounds in one possession before finishing with a layup. Granted, that means he also missed three tip-in attempts, but it was extremely impressive, if devastating to his shooting percentage.
Then Andre Iguodala hit Kuminga on a fast break alley-oop. Oh, and Kuminga also guarded Jonas Valanciunas, who has four inches, fifty pounds, and ten years on him.
After Kuminga left, Moody went to work. He drove to the hoop for a layup, he drew a foul and made two free throws, and then Iguodala hit him for a dunk.
New Orleans closed the 2nd quarter with an 11-2 run, coincidentally right after both rookies were out, as the Warriors couldn’t buy a bucket or a foul call, which led to Steve Kerr’s first technical at the end of the half. Apparently the basketball gods found Kerr’s complaint legitimate, because ball did not lie, and Brandon Ingram missed the freebie.
Ingram had 19 in the first half, dominating the scoring for the Pels - the rest of the starting lineup combined for 14 - while Wiggins led the Warriors with 13. The Dubs had a huge advantage in bench scoring, 26-14. For the game, Kuminga, Moody, and Lee all scored in double digits, and Bjelica had 9. It just wasn’t enough in a game where three of their starters combined for just 15 points.
Otto Porter finally got the Warriors’ offense going with a free throw line jumper, two-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter. It was only their 4th point in the last six minutes. Jordan Poole didn’t take advantage of his green light early, missing his first nine shots and going scoreless in the first half. That was thanks to the lockdown defense of Pelicans’ rookie Herb Jones, who was an absolutely ferocious defender tonight. Poole finally got on the board on a technical free throw, following the coolest play of the third for Golden State. Gary Payton II tied up Valanciunas - and then won the subsequent jump ball.
GP2 wins the tip over 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas pic.twitter.com/vnFCuWsVmw— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 7, 2022
Iguodala tied the game at 64-64 with a big three-pointer.
Andre pulls up from deeeeep pic.twitter.com/2AMzflEvLq— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 7, 2022
Then Damion Lee followed up with a fast break layup. Kuminga got the lead back at 68-67 with a drive and layup high off the glass. A Jaxson Hayes layup and foul gave the Pelicans the lead, and then after the Warriors couldn’t secure the free throw miss, Nickell Walker-Alexander sank a three to make it a five-point possession. But Lee answered with a three to cut the deficit to two heading into the final quarter.
Look, it may have simply been a coincidence, but when Steve Kerr substituted Chris Chiozza in for Kuminga, New Orleans went on a 12-6 run to start the 4th quarter. Moody had a dunk, followed by a huge offensive rebound to keep the Warriors in the game early in the 4th, but a Josh Hart layup forced a desperate Warriors timeout with 8:33 left - and Kuminga came back in, along with Wiggins and Poole. Yes, our first glimpse at a Kuminga-at-center lineup.
The lineup stifled offense for both teams for a good three minutes, before Kuminga drove on Valanciunas for a layup and Wiggins hit a jumper, which cut the Pelicans’ lead to five points. What followed? Four missed threes, two turnovers, and a big enough deficit that even their frantic comeback couldn’t claw them back far enough.
Bob Fitzgerald notes: He dessert-shamed Kelenna Azubuike for his love of bread pudding.