Kyrie Irving may have refused the COVID-19 vaccine, but he took plenty of big shots in the Brooklyn Nets’ 120-116 win over the Golden State Warriors. Irving led the Nets with 38 points, including five points in the final 1:21, as the Nets overcame a 13-point 4th quarters deficit to eke out the victory.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 26 points, but missed all four of his shots in the 4th quarter. Klay Thompson had a rough shooting night, scoring only ten points while shooting 4-17 from the field and 0-7 from three-point range, including a potential go-ahead shot with 20 seconds remaining. Once he missed, down 118-116, Irving corralled the rebound and made both free throws to ice the game.
It was a big game for the Warriors bench, finally close to full strength again with Jonathan Kuminga back. The 20-year-old scored 20 points on 9-15 shooting in his second game back from a foot injury, and was +13 in 25 minutes. New bench player Kevon Looney was +14, scored 14 points, and grabbed ten rebounds. And Donte DiVincenzo went 4-4 from deep and dished out eight assists.
The Warriors took a 110-98 lead with 5:42 remaining when Kuminga made a layup after a gorgeous display of passing.
The passing on this sequence pic.twitter.com/djN6OKoMed— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 23, 2023
That was the end of the passing, as the Warriors went into a series of isolation plays and inexplicable turnovers, including travels from Curry and Kuminga on consecutive possessions late. Meanwhile, the Nets cut down the lead thanks to a personal 7-0 run by...Nic Claxton? Yes, the Nets center put together a pair of free throws, a three-point play, and another layup to cut the lead to 110-105. After two Irving free throws, the lead was down to three points.
Kuminga had another layup, but then it was Curry time! Unfortunately for the Dubs, it was Seth Curry time. Steph’s little brother made a layup, and after his older brother missed, he found Joe Harris for a game-tying three. After the teams traded free throws, Irving found Royce O’Neale for a three-pointer with 28.1 seconds to go to give Brooklyn a two-point lead.
Why did the Nets trust O’Neale in a big spot? Claxton explained after the game.
The Warriors actually held onto the ball - only ten turnovers for the game - but they got beat by the three ball. They were a highly respectable 13-32 from deep (40.1%), but Brooklyn was 14-27 (51.9%). The also out-assisted the Warriors, but to be perfectly honest, this was a game the Warriors blew.
Scoring six points in the last five-and-a-half minutes of the game is not good. Only Kuminga made a shot from the field in the last six minutes. Meanwhile, the turnovers and the bad fouls continued, with the team giving up two and-ones down the stretch.
Ultimately, the Warriors lost another close, winnable game, to a Nets team missing Kevin Durant, who still hasn’t played in front of fans at the Chase Center. Maybe it will happen in the NBA Finals! But only if the Warriors can figure out how to win close games again.