Brandin Podziemski

What we learned as Podziemski shines in Warriors' loss to Timberwolves

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On a night where the Warriors didn’t have Steph Curry for the first time this season due to a right knee injury, Golden State also was without the rest of its Big Three in fewer than the first two minutes of Tuesday night’s In-Season Tournament Group Play game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

What began as a kerfuffle between Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels escalated to Draymond Green having 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert in a headlock and both teams being held back. Thompson, Green and McDaniels all were ejected before a single point was on the Chase Center scoreboard.

The final result was the Warriors running out of steam in a tough 104-101 loss to the Timberwolves.

Curry has been the entire show this season for the Warriors, but in his first game out to injury, Tuesday night was all about rookie Brandin Podziemski. The Warriors’ top pick was a constant highlight reel, making his presence felt in multiple ways and finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists to be a plus-11 in 39 minutes.

Podziemski became the first player outside of Curry to score more than 20 points in a game. Dario Saric (21 points) joined Podziemski later in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors needed a gut-check win to end their losing streak. The final score didn’t end in their favor, though they more than proved the fight that they have. However, Andrew Wiggins’ shooting woes (4-of-15 overall and 1 of 7 from deep) continue to be a cause for concern, especially in a game where the Warriors didn’t have Curry or Thompson.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ fourth straight loss that drops them to 6-6 overall and 1-1 in Group C play.

Santa Clara Podz

Green’s departure was an early opportunity for Podziemski to continue proving he belongs on an NBA court. The previous game, Podziemski scored a career-high eight points in only one minute and 16 seconds to end the Warriors’ loss to the Timberwolves. Tuesday night, Podziemski set a new personal best in the first quarter alone.

Podziemski scored nine points in 10 minutes and 17 seconds on 4-of-5 shooting, scoring at all three levels. The young lefty drained a 3-pointer off the dribble, nailed a floater over Gobert and attacked the basket as well.

But scoring wasn’t the only way Podziemski gave Golden State some serious production. He also dished three assists and grabbed two rebounds in that first quarter, too. Podziemski was a plus-10 in that span.

His night wasn’t close to done there. Podziemski was up to 12 points going into halftime, and he kept the show going in the second half. This off-hand And-1 finish was filthy.

Not to mention the bank was open for Podziemski to close the third quarter. It was that kind of night for the former Santa Clara Bronco.

Everything Podziemski was his one season down the road in college, he was for the Warriors in his biggest opportunity yet. There’s a roster crunch, yes, but Podziemski might have his spot cemented in the rotation after his unforgettable performance in front of the home fans.

Lineup Change

Curry’s absence clearly meant Chris Paul would be inserted into the starting lineup, but that wasn’t the only change Steve Kerr made. Kevon Looney was sent to the bench, and in came Saric. The change made sense.

Saric adds better spacing with his ability to stretch the floor, plus he and Paul have proven chemistry on the court.

The decision couldn’t have worked much better. Each of Paul, Saric and Looney contributed to the Warriors’ loss in their own ways.

Paul in his first start since the second game of the season had 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, but also a season-high four turnovers. Saric’s 21 points are his most as a Warrior, and Looney came down with 12 rebounds – six offensive and six defensive – in his first game this season off the bench.

And the differing styles of Saric and Looney allows them to play together. Both were on the floor to begin the second half. They came into the night playing together in only three games for a total of 31 minutes, resulting in a minus-1.6 net rating (100.0 offensive rating and a 101.6 defensive rating). Those numbers should look improved now, and could give Kerr something to think about moving forward.

Strength In Numbers

Down their top two scorers – Curry and Thompson – along with Green’s added offense to start the season, numerous Warriors had to put up points to beat the Timberwolves and their top-ranked defense. Well, nine Warriors scored in the first half, perfectly rising to the challenge.

Ten total Warriors scored in a game where every point was sure to count.

Cory Joseph was back in the rotation early for the first time since the season opener and scored six first-quarter points on two 3-pointers. For the 12th straight game to start the season, the Warriors’ bench outscored the opponent’s reserves. Depth was seen as a positive for the Warriors coming into the season, and it shined bright when faced with major adversity.

Again, the score continued the Warriors’ losing streak. The product that scratched and clawed on the court won’t be dismissed by players, coaches or anybody else.

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