SAN FRANCISCO – With the Warriors bound for the NBA playoffs and on their home court against a rebuilding San Antonio Spurs team with one eye on the draft lottery, Friday was the perfect night for Golden State to shine.
But, no, the defending NBA champions responded to such favorable conditions by laboring through a 130-115 victory before a sellout crowd (18,064) at Chase Center.
The Warriors didn’t take command until the fourth quarter, outscoring San Antonio 43-27 to earn the win and solidify their hold in sixth place in the Western Conference.
Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson combined for 91 points to power an offense that survived 15 turnovers, which the Spurs turned into 23 points.
Meanwhile, the Lakers moved into seventh place by beating the Timberwolves, who dropped from seventh to ninth. The eighth-place Pelicans face the fifth-place Clippers on Saturday in New Orleans.
Here are three observations from a win that lifts Golden State’s record to 41-37 – four games over .500 for only the second time this season:
Terrific trio taps into triples
The Warriors hoisted 49 3-pointers, more than half of their 93 field-goal attempts. It’s not the desired balance – unless the right shooters are shooting.
The right shooters were shooting.
Curry, Poole and Thompson combined to attempt 38 shots from deep, making 20. Any coach or fan or even the crankiest former NBA player would be pleased with the three primary shooters splashing at 52.6 percent.
Curry scored a game-high 33 points while 7 of 11 from deep. Thompson, who finished with 31 points, was 7 of 14 from deep. Poole was 6 of 13 from deep on his way to 27 points. The Warriors’ three sharpshooters now each have made at least 200 3-pointers this season, becoming the second trio of teammates in NBA history to accomplish that feat.
The rest of the Warriors? They combined to shoot 1 of 11 beyond the arc.
All is well when the right shooters do the shooting.
Kuminga gets another start
Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave Jonathan Kuminga his second consecutive start, again in place of Kevon Looney, and the 20-year-old forward delivered a hodgepodge of good and not so good.
His production was solid: 17 points, on efficient 8-of-11 shooting from the field while grabbing eight rebounds.
Kuminga committed three turnovers, but the more troubling sign was his usually impactful defense was spotty. He was at times stellar and bothersome and at other times seemed to be lost in space.
The idea behind starting JK ahead of Looney is to give the Warriors another elite athlete on the wing. It makes them tiny by NBA standards, but able to play at the fast pace they prefer.
It’s still a fluid situation and might remain so until there is some resolution to Andrew Wiggins’ indefinite absence.
Another soft beginning
The Warriors regard the final weeks of the season a time for fine tuning, for sharpening focus and getting the little things right. There was little indication of that.
Rather than treating the Spurs like the lottery squad they are and crushing them from the jump, Golden State spent much of the first half bungling possessions and abandoning its offense.
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Giving away 10 points off five turnovers, the Warriors trailed 26-23 after one quarter. This is the fifth consecutive game – and the eighth time in nine games – in which they were unable to take a lead into the second quarter.
They’ve been trying to break this habit, but it continues to bedevil them. It’s easier to overcome it against teams already planning for the draft, but it’s dangerous and potentially lethal against teams in the playoffs.