Coming off a large loss and their longest losing streak of the season, the Warriors played one of their most complete games Sunday afternoon, beating the NBA-leading Utah Jazz in an impressive 131-119 win.
Right from tipoff, it felt like the Warriors (20-19) had a solid grasp on the game, never letting go even as the Jazz pushed multiple times down the stretch.
The Warriors locked in on defense and were just as successful on offense. They've rarely played so well on both sides of the ball in the same game this season, but the Warriors were clicking on both ends against the Jazz.
Sunday's game featured a plethora of solid individual performances for the Warriors, but they were cohesive. Andrew Wiggins scored 28 points, birthday boy Steph Curry scored 32 and Draymond Green finished with his 26th career triple-double (11 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds, to go with four steals).
That hasn't always been the case. In the past, one or two Warriors have gotten hot, with the rest of the team trying to survive.
Sunday's win over the Jazz wasn't a matter of survival, though.. The Warriors controlled the game for nearly all 48 minutes, getting a taste of the heights this group can reach.
Closing out a close game
The Warriors' track record at closing out close games isn't encouraging this year. But they finished strong Sunday.
The Jazz stayed right at the Warriors' heels, trailing by five or fewer points for the majority of the fourth quarter, but Golden State kept a slight lead. Much of that was thanks to the bench, which we'll talk about in a second.
In the past, the Warriors have forced -- and missed -- a lot of shots at the end of games when their opponents pushed. Against the Jazz, they maintained their composure, responding after Jordan Clarkson cut the lead to two and pulling out stop after stop.
Again, it helps that a lot of the Warriors' roster had a good night. But that hasn't stopped them from coughing up leads this season. Holding on against the Jazz is an encouraging development.
Jordan Pool, second unit shine
Now for the bench.
The Warriors' second unit had a lot of pressure on their shoulders when they took the floor to open the second quarter.
The group consisted of James Wiseman, Kelly Oubre Jr., Nico Mannion, Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson. This was the lineup Steve Kerr planned on playing against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, but Wiseman was disciplined for missing COVID-19 tests during the All-Star break. The group struggled immensely without him.
They made the most of their opportunity Sunday, posting just a minus-3 net rating in their non-Curry minutes. That can be considered a win. Even better, they managed to keep a slight lead in the fourth before Curry and Green re-entered the game.
James Wiseman and Jordan Poole both scored in double figures, finishing with 16 and 18 points, respectively.
Poole was the standout off the bench. He scored 10 points in the second quarter and did most of his work off the ball, cementing Kerr's belief that Poole's not a typical point guard.
If Poole's minutes against the Jazz proved one thing, it's that he shouldn't be the primary ball-handler or facilitator. He doesn't just stand in the corner, waiting for the ball to find him, but he definitely isn't setting up all of his own buckets.
The Warriors need to continue to play him in this capacity, and if they do, he has a good chance at becoming their leading scorer off the bench.
Warriors need this Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins has been one of the most reliable Warriors this season, but his production and efficiency have recently dipped.
The Warriors need the version of Wiggins they got against the Jazz.
Wiggins finished with 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting (including 3-of-4 on 3-pointers), two assists, three rebounds and three steals, and playing with aggression all night. He continuously attacked the rim, slashing through defenders to get his shot. And down the stretch, he caught fire from deep.
Wiggins looked his January self, and the Warriors need this in the second half of the season.