Just like the first game of Draymond Green’s previous suspension this season, the Warriors weren’t able to overcome his absence Thursday night in a 121-113 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena. The Warriors now are 3-9 this season in games Green has missed or been ejected from.
As one Splash Brother found his shot, another struggled. Steph Curry so often has been on the positive side of that equation this season. Not this time. Curry scored 17 points on 5-of-17 shooting and missed 10 of his 13 3-pointers.
Klay Thompson meanwhile scored a season-high 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting and was 8 of 12 behind the 3-point line.
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Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and James Harden combined to score 35 first-half points, 20 second-half points and 55 overall. But Amir Coffey, who averages 1.3 points per game and whose previous season high was six points, scored 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting and made four of his 11 3-point attempts.
The Warriors now are 9-11 in clutch games as yet another close one went the opposition’s way.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ seventh straight road loss.
Starting Lineup Shakeup
Golden State Warriors
Someone had to replace Green in the starting lineup for the first game of his indefinite suspension. Steve Kerr turned to 21-year-old Jonathan Kuminga, who has averaged 15.2 points on 58.8 percent shooting in the last five games, as well as 5.4 rebounds. But Kerr also made a major change to his first five.
Out went Andrew Wiggins, and in came 20-year-old rookie Brandin Podziemski to join Curry, Thompson, Kuminga and Kevon Looney.
While Podziemski struggled to find his shot (2-of-11 shooting, 0 of 3 on threes), he continued to impact the game in other ways. Podziemski hauled in seven rebounds, tied his career high of three steals and added two assists. In his last three games, Podziemski has 14 offensive rebounds.
Kuminga in 25 minutes was a team-high plus-5. He scored an efficient 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and also had five rebounds. Don’t expect him to leave the starting lineup anytime soon.
The starters shared the floor together for 14 minutes and 22 seconds, and they outscored the Clippers 40-37.
Wiggins entering Thursday night had only come off the bench once in his nine-year NBA career: Game 1 of the playoffs last season after missing the previous two months to personal reasons. Wiggins had played 656 career regular-season games, and started each one. Until Thursday night in LA.
The fourth shot attempt of Wiggins’ first regular-season game off the bench is exactly what Kerr and the Warriors are hoping to see out of him: Downhill and decisive. Wiggins took Norm Powell to the rack off a few dribbles and finished off the glass.
While Wiggins ended 0 of 4 from deep, he was 4 of 5 on 2-pointers and feasted in the paint. Wiggins scored nine points in 22 minutes off the bench. But he also was called for five fouls and was a minus-7.
Where his place is in the rotation going forward will be incredibly interesting to see.
Thompson for the first time playing for Kerr didn’t close the final five minutes of the Warriors’ loss Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns. Wiggins didn’t play the fourth quarter, and neither did Looney. Surely, Thompson saw the writing on the wall.
And on a night when Wiggins was sent to the bench, Thompson made sure his spot in the starting lineup remained secure.
Between two 3-pointers and two free throws, Thompson scored the first eight points of the night. He then scored only three points in the second quarter before catching fire in the third. Thompson hit not one, not two, but three straight 3-pointers in a 35-second span during the third quarter.
Thompson scored 16 points during the frame, and was 4 of 5 from long distance, bringing him to 27 points going into the fourth.
The third quarter was the Thompson so many are used to seeing, and the player the Warriors have to hope he continues to be following such a strong shooting performance.