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Warriors get benched again in 4th straight loss to Orlando

Golden State blew double-digit leads in each of the first three quarters Thursday night, and now they’re tied with the Lakers. The Lakers!

Golden State Warriors v Orlando Magic
Klay Thompson made seven threes, but missed a desperate game-winner at the buzzer.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Winning road trips are all alike. Every losing road game is lost in its own way.

The Golden State Warriors found a new way to lose in Orlando, falling 130-129 after the Magic’s defense pressured Klay Thompson into a wild game-winning attempt at the buzzer. They did throw in a nice variation on the Miami loss, when a three-shot foul on Steph Curry was reviewed and upheld, but the result was the same: A fourth straight road loss.

Draymond Green summed it up best after the game.

Klay and Steph did shoot really well from distance. Thompson had 27 points and made 7-15 of his three-pointers, including a clutch triple with 30 seconds left to cut Orlando’s lead to one, after a swert inbounds pass from Ty Jerome.

Curry was 8-15 from three, and finished with 39 points and nine assists. He had two bad turnovers at the end of the game, but he also scored ten points in the final three minutes. One of the turnovers was careless, but one was simply great instincts by Jalen Suggs, who played the best quarter of his NBA career in the 4th.

Suggs took the ball away from Curry three times and hounded him into giving the ball up on the Warriors final possession. He scored 11 of his 26 points in the quarter, including a three-pointer with 38 seconds left after Curry had hit one to tie the game.

He also turned those steals into immediate points, drawing fouls twice and once finding Paolo Banchero for a dunk after picking Curry’s pocket.

But the game shouldn’t have been this close. The Warriors had double-digit leads in each of the first three quarters. Halfway through the first, they took an 11-point lead. Three minutes later, with four reserves in the game, Orlando went ahead. The Dubs were up 15 with 4:20 left in the third, and the Curry + bench lineup gave all but two points of it back, in part thanks to a terrible technical foul from James Wiseman.

The starting lineup has the best net rating of any five-man group in the NBA. The bench...does not. JaMychal Green was -15, Jordan Poole was -10, and Wiseman and Moses Moody were -9.

Steve Kerr, like the fans, is at the end of his rope. He told reporters, “We have to save us. Because nobody else is coming.” How are they going to do that? By adjusting the bench rotations.

“We’ve had nine games now, so we’ve had a decent look at combinations. It’s time to try something different,” explained Kerr. “Everybody’s gonna get a chance to play. We’ve got guys who are dying to get on the floor, and we’ve got to find combinations that play.”

The guys dying to get on the floor would presumably include forgotten man Jonathan Kuminga, who showed flashes of being a quality defender last year, and Ty Jerome, who was the one competent reserve in Orlando and played in the closing lineup. It also might include rookies Patrick Baldwin, Jr. or Ryan Rollins, though it’s more likely the Warriors will sit down Wiseman, who is simply getting killed on defense and on the boards. So far in the season, Kuminga/Wiseman seems to be an either/or proposition, as the two young players sharing the floor can kill the spacing. It’s likely time to give Kuminga a shot.

Orlando’s bench kept them in the game before Suggs could win it for them. Chumka Okeke was 4-4 in the first quarter, along with three threes. and infuriated Bob Fitzgerald’s notions of probability. R.J. Hampton had 15 points off the bench. And Kevon Harris tied his career high with 12 points. Overall, the Magic reserves made 8-14 threes, shot 60 percent from the field, and scored 45 points. The Warriors’ bench shot 39 percent and had 23.

Top pick Paolo Banchero had 22, but the Warriors mostly did a good job on him defensively, hassling him into five turnovers. They did foul Banchero too much, because they foul everyone too much - Orlando’s free throw advantage was 46 to 15. 13 of those came in the third quarter, where the Magic shot 62.5% and scored a whopping 43 points. Wendell Carter Jr. had as many rebounds as the entire Warriors team and scored 7 of his 14 points in the period.

For the Warriors, Kevon Looney had 17 points on 8-11 shooting. Andrew Wiggins scored 15 on 12 shots, and Draymond Green out up a triple-single with eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds. The starters were good! The offense is good. The defense and rebounding are bad.

They’ve got one more chance to steal a game on this road trip when they play the Pelicans, who are getting All-Star Brandon Ingram back, and still have Zion Williamson. But there’s a chance. The Lakers, a team unfathomably tied with the Warriors in the standings, beat them on Wednesday. Yes, the Warriors are tied with the Lakers. What a world.

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