What we learned as complete team effort fuels Warriors' win vs. Spurs

What we learned as complete team effort fuels Warriors’ win vs. Spurs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN ANTONIO – Jonathan Kuminga scored seven of his 22 points during a pivotal game-changing run in the second half, and the Warriors won for the first time in five games this season while playing without star Stephen Curry, beating the San Antonio Spurs 112-102 on Monday at Frost Bank Center.

Klay Thompson, back in the starting lineup, added 21 points with four 3-pointers, including his 200th of the 2023-24 NBA season. It’s the ninth time that Thompson has reached that milestone, the second-most in NBA history behind the 3-point king Curry, who has done it 11 times.

Chris Paul scored 19 points and had eight assists and nine rebounds to help Golden State snap its two-game losing streak. Andrew Wiggins, also back in the starting rotation, had a solid night with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Trayce-Jackson Davis had 13 points, 11 rebounds, a season-high five assists and made the play of the night when he dunked over Spurs star and No. 1 overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama and got fouled late in the fourth quarter.

Brandin Podziemski chipped in with 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists to finish a plus-17.

After shaking off a sluggish first quarter that mostly was controlled by the Spurs, the Warriors looked nothing like the team that slept-walked its way to a 126-113 loss to the same team two nights earlier.

Yet it wasn’t until the third quarter when Golden State was able to take command.

Trailing 68-58 two minutes into the second half, the Warriors went on a 30-6 run to swing the momentum in their favor. Kuminga led the surge but had plenty of help. Paul dished out six of his assists during the run, while Jackson-Davis scored six points and had a pair of dunks.

The Warriors (34-30) moved within one-half game of the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference.

Curry sat out a second consecutive game with a right ankle injury. He is to be re-evaluated on Tuesday, but coach Steve Kerr said after the game he doesn’t expect the Warriors star to play in Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks in Dallas.

Here are the takeaways from Monday’s game:

Getting Wiggy with it

Back in the starting lineup after a ho-hum game off the bench when the two teams played at Chase Center on Saturday, Wiggins looked very much like the key player the Warriors believe he can be.

Wiggs made four of his first five shots and played with a lot more energy and aggression than he showed two nights earlier. He had a key put-back off a miss by Podziemski then nailed an open 3-pointer in the third quarter when the Warriors took a double-digit lead.

That all came while Wiggins spent part of the game defending Wembanyama, a chore that was shared by multiple Golden State players. Wembanyama had a double-double but needed 25 shots to do it.

Wiggins just looked more at ease overall, an encouraging sign as the Warriors try to improve their NBA playoff positioning.

On the defense

The Warriors picked up their defensive intensity in the second and third quarters, which allowed them to keep the game from getting out of hand until the offense got going.

After allowing the Spurs to operate fairly freely early – San Antonio scored 37 points while shooting nearly 63 percent in the first quarter – Golden State tightened things up significantly in the second quarter.

The Warriors shut down a lot of the open looks they allowed in the first 12 minutes, preventing the Spurs from putting together big runs.

Golden State allowed only 23 points in the second quarter and just 18 in the third. San Antonio couldn’t recover after that.

Kuminga’s dilemma

Even though he was a bit reckless at times, Kuminga was much more aggressive offensively than he was during Saturday’s loss. Part of that was because of another change in lineups that allowed JK to slide back to his more natural power forward slot.

A perfect example of his aggressiveness came when Kuminga went coast-to-coast for a thunderous dunk in the first quarter.

Kuminga is at his best when he’s attacking and driving, but he has to be more in control when he does. He had a shot blocked at the rim, lost possession in the key on another drive, then later was called for an offensive foul when he drove and tried to kick the ball out to Thompson in the corner.

Another issue is that Kuminga wants to show he can be an all-around scorer with a capable outside shot. That sometimes leads to him settling for jumpers rather than going to the rack.

He had some success doing that in the rematch with the Spurs, but there aren’t many defenders in the NBA capable of shutting Kuminga down when he decides to attack.

If he can develop a steady outside shot, all the better. But the Warriors need him to focus more on his inside game.

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