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Warriors blasted by Knicks on the boards, fall short with late comeback

The Warriors’ shortcomings were on full display Thursday against the New York Knicks – and they are sizable. But enough small puns, because the Warriors bigs, or more specifically the lack of them, are no laughing matter.

One night after getting absolutely demolished by the Utah Jazz and their backup centers, Golden State (41-14) got beasted by the Knicks frontcourt en route to a 116-114 disappointment.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Chase Center.

Stephen Curry gave a valiant effort, pouring in 35 points and 10 assists, but he couldn’t overcome New York’s effort on the boards.

Steve Kerr said that it’s a lot to ask to any team to overcome when you’re giving up a ton of second chances and free throws:

When you have to overcome 16 offensive boards tonight, three games in a row it’s like 16, 18, 17 offensive boards, 33 free throws, you’re playing uphill.”

Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson inhaled every rebound that was anywhere near their vicinity and then powered through any small defender the Warriors tried to put on them.

They combined for 27 rebounds, just 11 less than the Warriors pulled in as a team, and led the Knicks (24-31) to a rare win as they had come in losers of seven of their last eight games.

Although it’s the third straight game that the Warriors have been battered on the glass, Klay Thompson gave off zero signs of concern after the game:

No, not really. I mean, our fifth loss at home this year, I wish we could win them all. But I still like where we stand at the moment.”

Randle had a dominant performance with 28 points, 16 boards and seven assists.

With no Draymond Green and Otto Porter Jr also missing the game since it was a back-to-back, the Randle assignment fell on rookie Jonathan Kuminga who drew the start.

The 19-year-old did his best and stayed in front of a lot of Randle’s faceup moves, but got grown manned in the post a handful of times.

It was overall and encouraging performance though, as Kuminga fought hard and also made Randle work on defense, going for 17 points of his own.

Kerr said that the Randle matchup was the primary reason for starting Kuminga and the rookie did an admirable job:

Julius is as strong a player as there is in the league. But that’s one of JK’s attributes, just how physically strong he is, even at 19. It’s exciting to be able to put him out there in a matchup like that and see him hold his own, and play really well and give us a lot of great minutes.”

Kuminga continues to grow up on the court every minute he’s out there, and even drilled two clutch free throws to pull the Warriors within two with a minute to go in the game.

He’s put together a nice stretch recently, averaging 16.4 points in five February games. Kuminga did finish with just five rebounds though, and when you’re the de facto center, that isn’t enough.

That being said, he was far and away the Warriors best option as the center and it showed, as he closed the game over Kevon Looney.

Looney was in foul trouble for most of the contest and even when he was in, he was ineffective against the bruising Knick’s frontcourt.

The third Warriors center on the active roster Nemanja Bjelica has become essentially unplayable. Anytime he’s on the court he’s basically a flashing red light for the opposing offense to attack him at will.

The Knicks put him in pick-and-roll continuously and he was helpless to do anything against it.

Bjelica played 19 minutes — the same amount as Looney — and was a minus-11, although it felt like it should have been double that.

The Warriors are short with Green and James Wiseman out, that’s obvious, but Bjelica doesn’t give them what they are lacking.

He doesn’t protect the rim or rebound especially well, and he’s also not shooting enough to make up for that.

So, on paper it makes sense that he would play a bunch of minutes because he’s listed as a power forward, but in reality, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

It’s especially glaring, since Thursday was the trade deadline and the Warriors opted to not make any moves to bring in outside help.

They’re putting all their eggs in the Green-returning-from-this-back-issue basket.

And it may still pay off, but right now, it’s ugly watching these small Warriors continue to get dominated on the glass.

Up Next

The Warriors will get a day break before taking the court again against the Los Angeles Clippers (27-30). The Clips reshaped their roster ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline adding Norman Powell, Robert Covington and Rodney Hood.

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