The Golden State Warriors front office seemed content falling back to .500 when they decided to sit Steph Curry and Draymond Green against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. With Andrew Wiggins out with an injury of his own, the Dubs were down their three best players. The Jazz were without Lauri Markkanen and Mike Conley Jr, but the odds still seemed stacked against Golden State.
Yet, in large part thanks to Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga, the Dubs were on the cusp of victory in the final minute. Then, a pair of unacceptable turnovers and a bad defensive possession left the Warriors with a 124-123 loss.
The Warriors bounced back from a slow start to take a 35-30 lead by the end of the first quarter. Poole was hot from deep, seemingly hitting every open shot he got. With the Jazz’s traditional centers sagging off the pick-n-roll Poole had a field day from the perimeter. He scored 21 points in the first half and finished with 36 on the night. He also racked up 8 assists and 4 rebounds, although his sixth turnover of the game proved costly.
Kuminga probably had the best game of his young NBA career. In nearly 30 minutes of action, he racked up 24 points on just 13 shots from the field. While he was only credited with 4 rebounds, Kuminga made his presence known inside on both ends of the floor. He created several second-chance opportunities for the Dubs by tipping rebounds out to the perimeter and continued looking like a difference maker defensively.
An ugly third quarter put the Jazz up 100-91 heading into the fourth, but Golden State quickly climbed back into the game. In the final minutes, Poole converted an alley-oop pass from Klay Thompson to tie things up at 117 before he put Golden State ahead by two with a floater on the following possession.
Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson eventually tied things up at 119 with less than a minute remaining in regulation, but then Poole found Kuminga on the following possession for an easy dunk to put the Dubs up 121-119.
Then, on the subsequent play, Clarkson drove through a lot of contact from Kuminga and had his shot blocked. Kuminga grabbed the loose ball, and Clarkson, clearly frustrated by the lack of a foul call, wrapped up the young wing that sparked a whistle and an immediate altercation. Kuminga stood his ground but was quickly wrapped up by Donte DiVincenzo while Clarkson squared up and wildly flailed. Clarkson was assessed a flagrant two foul, which ejected him from the game.
Already leading by two, the Warriors would have two free throws and possession with 24.9 seconds remaining. The game should have been over.
Kuminga split the free throws to put the Dubs up three and Thompson had the ball stolen from him on the in-bounds play. Luckily for Golden State, the Jazz failed to convert and had to foul Poole after an empty possession.
Poole split his free throws to put the Warriors up four with 13.3 seconds remaining. The Jazz quickly answered with a three, but there were only 6.9 seconds on the clock.
The Warriors inbounded the ball to Poole, who held the ball too far away from his chest, and Jazz center Kelly Olynyk swiped it out of his hands. Going the other way, the Jazz found Simone Fontecchio for an easy dunk to put them ahead 124-123. In the blink of an eye, the Warriors had lost.
The Warriors, now 13-13, will have a couple of days off before they host the Boston Celtics in a rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals on Saturday, December 10th at the Chase Center. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 PM Pacific.