With Stephen Curry wearing sweats and watching from the bench, and both James Wiseman and Eric Paschall at home in San Francisco, the Warriors shrugged off the absences and worked with what they had.
It was more than enough, as they rolled into Memphis on Friday and reeled off a 116-103 victory in the first of two games on back-to-back nights between teams clinging to each other in the standings.
Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 40 points and Jordan Poole, starting at point guard in place of Curry, poured in a career-high 25. Damion Lee came off the bench to add a season-high 21 points. Draymond Green scored only two points, but produced 13 assists and 11 rebounds as the Warriors (22-20) went two games over .500 for the first time since the All-Star break.
Here are three takeaways from a game with consequences:
In a time of need, Wiggins steps up
With Curry, Wiseman and Paschall – who combine to averaged 50.3 points per game – all inactive, the Warriors surely longed for Wiggins to submit his first 30-point night with the franchise.
He overdelivered. With 27 points in the first half, the highest-scoring half of his career, Wiggins was largely responsible for the Warriors building a 67-48 lead at intermission.
With 3-pointers, midrange jumpers and drives to the hoop, Wiggins shot 14-of-24 from the field, including 6-of-11 from distance in posting his highest-scoring game as a Warrior. He added eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Wiggins’ shooting efficiency nosedived as the Warriors approached the All-Star break, but’s back to the level of earlier this season. In the five games since the break, he shot 28-of-51 from the field and 10-of-18 from deep.
Poole meets the moment
Starting in place of a two-time NBA MVP such as Curry can be its own burden, but Poole did not flinch. He flourished.
He drained a 3-pointer 52 seconds after tipoff and followed with an elbow jumper 51 seconds later. If he had any hint of nerves, they weren’t visible in a 17-point first half.
Poole made floaters. Made midrange jumpers. Made triples. Runners. Pretty much the full range of ways to put the ball through the hoop. He was 10-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-6 from distance.
He has been remarkably good since being recalled from the G League nearly three weeks ago. If there was a fault on this night, it’s that he recorded only two assists.
With Green on the floor conducting the offense and Poole creating offense, the Warriors can live with that.
They read the scouting report
The Grizzlies are big and fearless but, above all, they thrive on live-ball turnovers that launch their devastating transition game led by electrifying point guard Ja Morant.
In the three quarters before the required fourth, when there were semi-competitive moments, the Warriors committed only 10 turnovers, off which Memphis scored eight points.
Meanwhile, Golden State was forcing turnovers and feasting on the other end, turning 20 Memphis turnovers into 30 points.
Coach Steve Kerr, during his pregame news conference, stressed the need to limit turnovers. His team listened.