On the heels of a blowout loss to the Utah Jazz, the Golden State Warriors were more competitive against the New York Knicks, but lost 116-114. After standing pat at the trade deadline the Dubs couldn’t quite defend their home court in an exciting, fact-paced game.
A key matchup to watch heading into the game was at power forward. With Golden State resting Otto Porter Jr. on top of Draymond Green’s continued absence, rookie Jonathan Kuminga earned the starting nod opposite Knicks star Julius Randle. Randle’s combination of athleticism, strength, and scoring touch consistently generates mismatches. The Dubs knew they would have their hands full without Green.
To his credit though, Kuminga answered the call. Kuminga is one of the few players in the league who can match Randle’s length and athleticism with at least a comparable amount of strength. Kuminga forced Randle into a heavily contested fade away and forced a steal in transition on two early first-quarter possessions. However, Randle found more success against Kuminga as the game wore on and the rest of the Warriors were even more overmatched in isolation.
Randle had 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the first quarter and paired with an early shooting barrage from Evan Fournier to lead the Knicks to a 33-28 lead. Kuminga led the Warriors in scoring in the quarter with 7 points.
Not to be easily outdone, Stephen Curry answered with an impressive second quarter. Highlighted by a 32-foot three, Steph scored 17 points and put the Dubs in front. Yet, even in his greatness, there still feels like something is missing with Curry.
He’s clearly still one of the best players in the NBA, but even during his hot shooting stretch on Thursday, the classic unstoppable barrages seem tamer. They remain the most dangerous threat in the NBA, but they seem to feature a few more misses this year than we have become accustomed to. It felt like the Warriors would have been up double-digits if Curry went on a run like he did last season. Instead, they led 62-57 at the half.
Already undersized, playing on back-to-back nights only made things more difficult for the Dubs. The Knicks dominated the boards all game long, particularly early in the third quarter when center Mitchell Robinson racked up several offensive rebounds. The second-chance opportunities helped New York retake the lead and put the Warriors in the penalty. Kevon Looney picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, forcing Dubs head coach Steve Kerr to play even smaller or give more minutes to Nemanja Bjelica.
In Bjelica’s first game back after missing the past six games with back spasms, he looked rusty and out of sorts. The Knicks dominated offensively when he was on the floor by isolating him in the pick and roll. He finished a game-worst -11.
The Warriors could have stayed ahead with a better offensive performance from one of their best non-Curry options. However, Andrew Wiggins only had an unexceptional 12 points over the first three and a half quarters while both Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson struggled from the field. Still, they only trailed by seven with five minutes to go in regulation.
Wiggins cut the lead to four with a huge three, Fournier missed an open mid-range shot on the other end that setup an opportunity in transition that Jordan Poole converted. Just like that, the Knicks only led 104-102. The next possession, Fournier did not miss. He nailed a step-back three to put New York back ahead by five.
New York kept the Warriors from tying the game over the next few minutes, but Wiggins made a fantastic defensive play in the final 90 seconds to prevent Robinson from finishing a layup that would have stretched the lead to six. Instead, Kuminga was fouled in transition going the other way and made both free throws.
Now trailing 112-110, Curry had an opportunity to tie the game with a layup after stopping the Knicks. The ball rolled out though and Kuminga goaltended a shot by Randle to stretch the lead back to four with 22.1 seconds remaining. The Warriors played the foul game back-and-fourth for a couple possessions. Alec Burks and Cam Reddish each missed a free throw while Curry made a layup and two free throws. Down 116-114 with 6.7 seconds remaining, Golden State got one final shot. Thompson got an uncontested jumpshot from the free-throw line, but it bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Once again, Curry’s shooting performance seems undersold by his final numbers. He finished 11-for-25 from the field (5-for-16 from three) with 35 points and 10 assists, but he was really the only Warrior to lead any offensive run. Ultimately, without another player adding a standout offensive game, the Dubs could not afford to surrender the number of offensive rebounds and free throws they did.
Given all that was asked of him, Kuminga still finished with another positive performance. He recorded 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block. The rookie made 2 of his 3 shot attempts from three and finished 5-for-8 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Randle did the bulk of work for the Knicks, with 28 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists, but Fournier’s 22 points on 5-for-11 shooting from three put them over the top. Still, Robinson’s 11 rebounds (8 offensive) were a huge tone setter as well.
The Warriors will stay home for their next game, when they will try to end their two-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday February 12th at 5:30 PM Pacific Standard Time.
Our own Marc Delucchi recapped the Warriors loss, talked about their decision to stand pat at the NBA Trade Deadline, looked at Golden State’s buyout options, and much more in his latest postgame Twitch stream, which you can catch right here: