SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors for the second time this season have completed a perfect five-game homestand with Steph Curry sidelined after beating the New Orleans Pelicans 108-99 on Friday night at Chase Center.
Klay Thompson continued to step up in Curry’s absence. Thompson led the Warriors with 27 points and four 3-pointers. He now has scored at least 20 points in five of his last six games, and has averaged 28.6 points on the Warriors’ five-game homestand.
While Thompson carried the load for the starters, a handful of players gave the Warriors key minutes off the bench. Jonathan Kuminga, JaMychal Green and Anthony Lamb combined for 44 points. Ty Jerome controlled the pace and handed out five assists off the bench.
For the third straight game, the Warriors erased a halftime deficit, this time outscoring the Pelicans by seven points in the third quarter and five in the fourth.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors improving to 34-30 on the season.
If this is how Jonathan Kuminga is going to play on a nightly basis, the rest of the league is in for a rude awakening. Kuminga played 32 minutes off the bench, scoring 19 points while shooting 9 of 13. The high-flier also had seven rebounds and was a game-high plus-15 in plus/minus.
And yes, he of course had another eye-popping dunk that had Steph Curry going wild on the bench.
But Kuminga's impressive night isn’t a one-game sample. Throughout the Warriors' undefeated homestand, Kuminga brought it every single night. He averaged 14.8 points and 5.2 rebounds, shooting 59.6 percent. Kuminga was a plus-45 combined in the last five games.
He’s cutting to the basket, knocking down mid-range jumpers and playing stout defense at 20 years old. The potential is off the charts, and it’s starting to be matched by his production.
JMG Steps Up
In the Warriors' previous two games, JaMychal Green appeared to have fallen a bit behind in Steve Kerr's rotation, especially in the second half. But with Draymond Green and Jonathan Kuminga running into early foul trouble, Green had to be called upon early and he rose to the occasion.
The veteran big man combined to play just over nine minutes over Golden State's last two games. He nearly reached that mark in the first half alone. Over eight minutes and 44 seconds, Green scored 11 points while going 4 of 5 from the field, with three dunks, one 3-pointer and one block.
Green in the first half was tied for the team lead in points (11) and rebounds (five) and was a team-high plus-3 in plus/minus.
Going into halftime, Green was holding his wrist, a problem that has hampered him at multiple times this season. He toughed it out and finished the night with 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes.
Another Slow Start
Now comes the real test. Digging an early hole can't continue to happen as the Warriors head on the road for three huge games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies.
Out of the gates, the Warriors, as per usual, settled for too many 3-pointers while leaving the Pelicans wide open from beyond the arc. The Warriors were 1 of 8 from deep in the first quarter and 8 of 12 on 2-pointers. Meanwhile, New Orleans 66.7 percent (12 of 18) from the field and 62.5 percent (5 of 8) on threes in the first frame.
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Golden State now has not led after the first quarter in eight straight games. The last time the Warriors had the upper hand going into the second quarter was Feb. 11 against the Lakers. Is that going to work on the road?
Not with the way the Warriors have played away from Chase Center this season. With Curry expected to return Sunday in LA, the Warriors should have their eyes set on the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference ahead of home battles against the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. Having to come from behind every single time will have the Warriors looking up at their competition.
They're now 10-18 when trailing after the first quarter this season.