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Warriors refocus on defense, finally land a win over Clippers

Over their last three games, the Warriors have allowed 40, 32, and 38 points in the first quarter, an average of 36.6 points given up in the first frame alone.

Tuesday night, they again allowed 36 points — but this time, that was the Clippers’ first half total; the lowest point total Golden State (44-22) has allowed an opponent in a half this season.

Their defensive effort led them to a 112-97 victory over Los Angeles (34-33) to snap a worrying, five-game losing streak.

Their closeouts were more crisp than we’ve seen recently, and their hands more active. It also didn’t hurt that the Clippers came in sporting one of the worst offenses in the NBA.

The Warriors also stopped soft switching on most screens. Against the Lakers and Mavericks especially, the soft switches gave their stars the matchup they wanted — almost always Curry — and let them go to work.

It’s part of the reason why LeBron James and Luka Doncic feasted in isolation. But this game, any Clips screen the Warriors defender would fight through, and only used switching as the last resort.

It bottled up Reggie Jackson — just five points on 2-of-14 shooting — LA’s best pick-and-roll player, and shored up Golden State’s point of attack defense.

And when the Warriors defense is clicking, that gets them out in transition, which in turn jump starts their offense.

Jordan Poole stayed hot as he put up 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

Poole has shaken off the rough stretch of games that had many questioning his future if he wasn’t able to thrive with Klay Thompson back.

He’s been in a groove over the last four games, scoring over 20 points in each game and shooting a blistering 19-of-32 from 3.

It wasn’t just his shooting either, Poole pulled out three crazy finishes at the rim in quick succession. When he’s attacking the rim with ferocity, he’s the dynamic playmaker the Warriors are desperate for, and the player that can take some of the creation load off of Curry.

That’s exactly what Poole did Tuesday, as Curry had a quiet 15 on just 12 shots but his scoring wasn’t needed.

They got 20 from Klay Thompson, 21 from Jonathan Kuminga, and 14 from Andrew Wiggins to spread around the wealth.

Although Thompson broke 20 points for the first time in five games, he is still struggling to get his shot back on track. He went 9-of-23 from the field and that only looked passable after he ended the game on a semi-hot streak.

Thompson has been trying to shoot his way out of the slump and that’s led to some questionable shot selection, even by Klay standards.

You can see it in the way he’s generating the shots, taking a lot of dribbles, trying to create for himself, something that’s uncharacteristic of Thompson pre-injury.

He snapped out of it late Tuesday though, finding rollers and cutters — usually Kuminga — to dish off to, rather than force a contested fadeaway.

And while the rookie was the beneficiary of some Thompson passes, Kuminga had one of his most complete games this season finishing with six boards, six assists, two 3’s and no turnovers.

He was making all the right plays, kicking out when he would get stopped in the paint, dumping off on the short roll, and was a major weapon for the Warriors.

Kuminga has bounced back as well, averaging over 18 points the last three games.

The rookies have been showing out while rest of the Warriors have crumbled around them recently.

Moses Moody, fresh off his 30-point night, had what could be considered a quiet 10, but he did so on just six shots, pulled in eight rebounds and continued to have veteran composure in his 19-year-old-body.

They’ve been the bright spots shining through this cloudy stretch for the Warriors.

And now with Draymond Green on the precipice of returning, those spots have turned into a tractor beam, pulling the Warriors to the end of the tunnel. They just need to run through it.

Up Next

Another date with the Denver Nuggets (39-26) and MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic awaits the Warriors. As they’ll travel back to the mile-high city for a one-game road trip Thursday.

Notes

Stephen Curry had two steals in the first half, which brought his career total to 1361, and also moved him past Chris Mullin for the franchise lead in steals. According to Warriors PR, Curry joins Mike Conley (Memphis), LeBron James (Cleveland) and Reggie Miller (Indiana) as the only players to lead the franchise in career points, assists, 3-pointers, steals and games played. … The Warriors worked out Tyreke Evans for the second time this week. The former Rookie-of-the-Year has been out of the NBA since 2019 when he was banned for violating the Leagues anti-doping policy. He was recently reinstated in February of 2022.


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