The Golden State Warriors finally have a winning streak again, recording consecutive victories for the first time since closing out their nine-game victory streak on February 7. They did it in style, with a highly-thrilling back-and-forth 113-102 win over the Denver Nuggets.
It was a fun and encouraging victory, and only has us that much more excited to welcome Draymond Green back into the fold come Monday.
Now let’s grade the lovely dudes who got the job done, weighting for our expectations of each.
Note: League average true-shooting percentage (TS) was 56.2% entering Thursday’s games.
34 minutes, 7 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 3-for-11 shooting, 1-for-7 threes, 0-for-3 free throws, 28.4% TS, +1
The Wiggins offensive slump continues, and might have reached a low point on Thursday. Wiggins still hasn’t scored 20 points since January, a 14-game span in which he’s shot just 40.6% from the field and, shockingly, just 9-for-26 from the free throw line. He looks fully off on that end of the court, and you saw it in this game to the tune of not getting easy looks, and not converting the looks he did get.
That said, the five-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio is a great thing to see when the offense is slumping, and he had some quality defensive possessions.
27 minutes, 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 5-for-5 shooting, 100.0% TS, +5
It’s starting to feel like this line is just the norm for Looney, so I want to make sure we don’t take it for granted. Five assists from the center position? Strong rebounding, without missing a shot? That was all good and well, but it was Looney’s defense on Nikola Jokić that really was the star.
Jokić still got his, because he’s an MVP and that’s what they do ... but Looney bothered him, forced him into a lot of turnovers, and made it an efficient night for the Joker. All while doing the great things he did on offense.
38 minutes, 34 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 11-for-21 shooting, 5-for-12 threes, 7-for-7 free throws, 70.6% TS, +18
That was the Steph Curry that gives the Warriors a chance to win every game when he shows up. Curry seemingly made the right decision all night long, and his 18-point third quarter was the catalyst behind a double-digit deficit turning into a lead. It was ruthless, fun, and dynamic.
It was a battle of MVPs in Denver, and while Jokić may have won his more recently — and may be in line for another one this year — it was Curry who was the brightest star on Thursday.
Oh, and he also became the 49th player in NBA history to score 20,000 points. I’m starting to think he’s pretty good.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points and rebounds.
33 minutes, 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 foul, 7-for-20 shooting, 2-for-8 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, 42.2% TS, +9
It was another inefficient scoring night for Klay, but his shot selection was a lot better in this game. Sometimes they just don’t fall, but Thompson had the right idea on Thursday, and did a great job of keeping the ball moving.
He also played really strong defense, and going 33 minutes in a game of that pace without recording a turnover — and only registering a single foul — is awesome.
18 minutes, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 4 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 75.3% TS, -7
I continue to be impressed by Moody’s ability to play without making big mistakes or needing to ever be the center of attention. He takes the court with the maturity of a 10-year veteran, not a rookie.
He didn’t make much of an impact in this one, and was a step slow on defense with his fouls, but he was solid through and through.
Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.
20 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 0-for-1 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, +4
After the game, Steve Kerr did something that no one would have thought was possible before the game: he praised Bjelica’s defense on Jokić.
Steve Kerr: "I thought both Loon and Bjeli were fantastic against Jokić. He's such a handful and they did a great job of defending him without fouling."— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) March 11, 2022
Also points to the help defense from the other players.
I think I agree with Kerr, but it’s ironic that it was Bjelica’s defense on the non-MVP players that negatively stood out. Namely, he had one awful foul on a three-point shooter, and struggled when matched up with former Warrior DeMarcus Cousins.
But he was part of the team’s epic run in the third quarter, and his playmaking and quick ball movement was very helpful.
22 minutes, 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 fouls, 7-for-12 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 69.9% TS, -5
It’s amazing how quickly Kuminga just fills up the points column, all while standing out in other areas of the court, too. He entered the game fourth on the Warriors in points per 36 minutes (20.2, trailing only Curry, Thompson, and Jordan Poole), and second in true-shooting percentage (60.8%, trailing only Gary Payton II). Those numbers are only going to look better after this game.
Earlier in the year, Kuminga sometimes struggled against athletic teams such as Denver. But he’s rapidly evolved and matured, and now plays a bit more in control, and as a result he’s become an absolute weapon in matchups where other Warriors sometimes struggle.
7 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 0-for-2 shooting, 0.0% TS, -7
Bit of a rough one for JTA, though he didn’t get too much of a chance. Or he didn’t get too much of a chance because it was a bit of a rough one. Whichever you prefer.
Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.
6 minutes, 0 points, 1 foul, 0-for-1 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, +8
Take everything I said about Toscano-Anderson and say it again for Lee.
34 minutes, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls, 8-for-13 shooting, 4-for-7 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 75.7% TS, +29
It’s hard to put to words how magical Poole was on Thursday, or how accurate his plus/minus line reflected his impact: the Warriors outscored the Nuggets by 29 points in his 34 minutes, while getting outscored by 18 points in the 14 minutes he sat.
Poole was sensational all game long, but he kind of overshadowed himself: his three with 54.4 seconds remaining gave the Warriors a five-point lead, and his three on the very next possession provided the dagger that assured a victory was headed Golden State’s way.
We’ll remember his performance for those plays, and his reaction.
But don’t forget just how brilliant he was in all facets of the game on Thursday, not just in the final minute.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists and plus/minus.
Thursday’s inactives: Chris Chiozza, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Quinndary Weatherspoon, James Wiseman