Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in close 125-120 loss to Lakers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in close 125-120 loss to Lakers

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors gutted nearly half of their team before Thursday's NBA trade deadline for a chance at a brighter future.

But in their first game in a new era, they continued their losing ways, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 125-120 on Saturday night. 

The game featured a solid performance from Andrew Wiggins in his Warriors debut, which was overshadowed by Los Angeles' star power. Lakers forward LeBron James finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, while Anthony Davis added 27 points of his own.

In a matchup that the Warriors (12-41) dominated in recent years, the Lakers (39-12) have won two straight regular-season games, momentarily ruling the in-state rivalry.

Here are the takeaways from the game at Chase Center.

Wiggins' solid debut

A bunch of questions surrounded Wiggins before his Warriors debut, including if the forward would even play two days after being shipped to the Bay from Minnesota. He did play, and in 31 minutes, he showed positive signs, finishing with 24 points, two rebounds and three assists. 

Wiggins hit his first shot eight minutes into the contest, off a pass from rookie Eric Paschall. By the end of the first half, Wiggins had scored 13 points, including two 3-pointers.

Wiggins' most noteworthy performance, however, came on defense. One minute into the game, he played solid defense against James in the post, forcing a missed jumper. A quarter later, Wiggins deflected a James pass, forcing another takeaway. By the end of the night, Wiggins finished with a team-high five steals.

Wiggins will continue to be Golden State's biggest project entering the back half of the season. Saturday provided a good baseline for what the Warriors want him to be. 

Chriss makes a statement

With Willie Cauley-Stein and Omari Spellman now on other teams, Chriss is the Warriors' starting center. He showed he belonged Saturday, finishing with 26 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes. 

Much of Chriss' damage came in the first half, when he scored 20 points and added four rebounds, displaying a diverse skill set along the way.

Of the eight players added by the Warriors last summer, Chriss has had the most unique season. 

Last month, he was cut, then went through waivers without a team picking up his salary, before signing a two-way deal with the Warriors. Now, after signing a guaranteed contract for the remainder of the season, he has a chance to be in the Warriors' rotation long term. 

Saluting Kobe

In what's become a nightly occurrence league-wide, the Warriors paid tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other passengers who were killed in a helicopter crash last month. 

[RELATED: Steph wears Kobe jersey under coat during game]

Prior to tip-off, the Warriors showed a 90-second video in remembrance of Bryant. Additionally, shirts featuring 24, 8 and 2 -- Kobe and Gianna's jersey numbers -- and nine stars for the victims were passed out to the sold-out crowd at Chase Center. Steph Curry wore a gold Lakers jersey featuring Bryant's No. 24 on the front, and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green wore the shirts given out to the fans. 

Though never a member of the organization, Bryant's presence loomed large for the Warriors. As a teenager, Thompson worked out with the future Hall of Famer, and Green called Bryant a mentor. In a time when the league continues to mourn, the Warriors said goodbye to Bryant one last time. 

Andrew Wiggins-Steph Curry duo's potential shown in Warriors NBA 2K sim

Andrew Wiggins-Steph Curry duo's potential shown in Warriors NBA 2K sim

Editor’s note: With the NBA season halted over coronavirus concerns, Warriors fans have unanswered questions about the team and how it’s building toward the future. To provide answers, NBC Sports Bay Area will simulate some previously scheduled Warriors games through NBA 2K, mixing video-game results with real-life insights for our coverage team.

Even amid the NBA season suspension due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Andrew Wiggins enters the spring as the Warriors' biggest question mark.

A former No. 1 overall draft pick, Wiggins' potential drops jaws, while his inconsistency is head-scratching. Upon arrival, the Warriors believed his ability would bode well alongside Steph Curry and the team's culture.

In a simulation of the March 28 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder using NBA 2K20, Wiggins showed promise towards that goal in a 117-110 loss.

In the digital confines, Wiggins finished with 35 points, getting most of his buckets within the flow of the Warriors' motion offense.

"I think he really fits well," Draymond Green said of Wiggins last month. "As seamless as it could possibly be, I think he can fit right in. He can score the basketball, he can run the wings, he's a pretty good defender. So I think he'll definitely fit in with this core for a long time."

Similar performances weren't as consistent during Wiggins' first four seasons in Minnesota. Wiggins didn't live up to the expectations that come with being a franchise player. His offensive inconsistency quickly drew the ire of NBA observers. Worse, Wiggins became one of the worst defenders in the league, even after he signed a five-year, $145 million contract.

Nonetheless, the Warriors saw potential in the 25-year old, trading former All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell, along with Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman, in part to pair Wiggins with Curry. In the 2K simulation, the pairing worked, as the tandem combined for 62 points on the night.

The performance was consistent with Wiggins' lone real-world game alongside the former MVP. Against the Raptors back on March 5, the duo combined for 44 points in Curry's return from a broken left hand.

Curry's first highlight against the Raptors came with the help of his Canadian teammate, when he took a dribble in the lane, drew a double-team and fired a behind the back pass to Wiggins in the lane, leading to an easy layup, surprising Wiggins in the process.

"I didn't even know it was coming, really," Wiggins admitted after the loss to the Raptors. "I was kind of watching like it may come, but then when he went behind the back I was just trying to catch it. It was a hell of a pass."

"I'm very excited," Wiggins added. "He's an MVP player, one of the greats. He helped transition the game with his 3s and how fast he plays. So, I'm excited."

[RELATED: How Steph perform in Warriors-Hawks sim]

Wiggins' virtual performance Saturday coincided with his strong play during his short stint in the Bay Area. In his last five games, he averaged 20 points on 46 percent shooting from the field. If Wiggins continues to build on his current play, the Warriors will see the potential they've wanted all along, making for an intriguing process Wiggins says he's ready for.

"I feel like I've adjusted well," Wiggins told NBC Sports Bay Area earlier in March. "I've never played with anyone as good as him. By far, he's the best player that I've played with. Just getting a chance to learn from him and feeding off him and just learning."

Watch every Steph Curry 3-pointer with Warriors from 30 feet and beyond

Watch every Steph Curry 3-pointer with Warriors from 30 feet and beyond

Today is the 30th day in March.

Warriors superstar Steph Curry wears No. 30.

Obviously, that means you should watch every single 3-pointer the two-time NBA MVP has made in his career from 30 feet and beyond.

Thank you to our friends at the Warriors for making this possible:

You watched all 87, right? What's your favorite?

Is it the famous 37-footer against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 27, 2016? What about the 62-footer he swished at the end of the third quarter in Game 6 of the 2015 Western Conference semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies?

[RELATED: What separates Steph Curry as favorite among all Bay Area MVP athletes]

There just are so many incredible ones to choose from.

Now go spend 10 more minutes watching all 87 again ...

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