The Golden State Warriors seemed to be conceding their game on Wednesday against the Miami Heat. After losing an extremely winnable game against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, the Dubs opted to rest Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Otto Porter Jr. on the second half of their back-to-back. Despite their extreme shorthandedness, though, Golden State kept up with the best team in the Eastern Conference and came away with a 118-104 victory.
The Heat got off to a hot start, pulling ahead 23-12, but a few baskets from Jordan Poole sparked an 11-0 Warrior run to close the quarter with the score even at 23.
Miami lived up to their sterling defensive reputation all game long, but the Warriors surprisingly matched them at every step. Both teams went back and forth in the second quarter, finishing the first half tied at 50. For the Warriors, it was Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and Damion Lee leading their offensive charge.
Then, the Warriors started the third quarter swinging. Andrew Wiggins quickly scored 8 points, in arguably his best offensive stretch since the start of February. Then Poole caught fire, knocking down 30, 35, and 29-foot three-point shots on three consecutive possessions. In less than five minutes of regulation, the Dubs had gone on a 19-0 run.
However, Kuminga innocuously picked up his fourth foul of the game and was forced to the bench. With the rookie on the sidelines, the Warriors' defense faltered. Miami outscored Golden State 30-12 over the remainder of the third quarter, leaving the Dubs ahead just 81-80 heading into the final quarter.
Kuminga started the fourth quarter on the floor and the Warriors slowly began expanding their lead once again. But then the whistle bit Golden State again. Kuminga was called for his fifth and sixth foul in a manner of minutes, and with 5:35 left in regulation and the Warriors ahead 96-90, he was out for the game. They would have to finish without the rookie.
A trio of threes (one each from Poole, Lee, and Gary Payton II) helped the Warriors quickly rebuild a double-digit lead. The defense, led by Payton, Wiggins, and Kevon Looney continued generating stops, and with less than two minutes remaining, Wiggins returned in dramatic fashion. He converted a traditional three-point play and three-point shot on back-to-back possessions to ice the game. Wiggins easily had his best performance in weeks knocking down his only three free throws and scoring 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting (3-for-7 from three).
Looney gave Heat star Bam Adebayo problems all night. Payton was 5-for-6 from the field with 11 points and was pivotal in Golden State’s defensive effort. However, Poole, Kuminga, and Lee were the Warriors' most important players.
Poole scored 30 points alongside 9 assists and 4 rebounds. Kuminga was a game-high +26 in his roughly 30-minutes of action, recording 22 points and 5 rebounds. Lee was 5-for-10 from the field and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line, finishing with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The Warriors will get one day off to travel to Atlanta, before they take on the Hawks on Friday, March 25th at 4:30 PM Pacific Standard Time.
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