Andrew Wiggins led the way and Jonathan Kuminga looked like he belongs in the rotation, but it wasn’t enough.
The Golden State Warriors started their first East Coast road trip of the season with a rematch against the Hornets. After defeating Charlotte 114-92 in San Francisco, the Dubs found it much harder to score outside of Chase Center. This time, they fell short in a tight 106-102 ballgame, dropping to a 11-2 on the season.
Charlotte prioritized keeping Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole quiet from three early, which left them open in transition. Andrew Wiggins quickly racked up seven points, and the Warriors offense seemed to find an early groove. Towards the end of the quarter though, Golden State started committing turnovers. They had seven first-quarter turnovers for the second-straight game.
After being kept quiet in their first matchup, Hornets star LaMelo Ball scored 19 points in the first half and finished with 21, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. While Ball’s offensive productivity did not carry into the second half, he got Charlotte going early.
Head coach Steve Kerr decided to change things up in the second quarter, giving rookie Jonathan Kuminga some minutes as the small-ball center. In for Nemanja Bjelica, Kuminga took advantage of Mason Plumlee’s limited athleticism, finishing multiple uncontested layups/dunks.
When the Hornets built a six-point lead, Kerr returned to Kuminga to close the half. Kuminga was particularly impressive defensively, including one possession against Ball. The seventh overall pick finished the game with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block. While Golden State’s depth may make it hard to find consistent minutes, he’s quickly looking like a trustworthy member of the rotation.
Jonathan Kuminga is thriving in a role built for his strengths. It’s such a contrast to how the Dubs handled James Wiseman last season. Seems like the improved depth and revamped staff are setting the young players up for success. Gotta think it’ll help Wiseman when he returns.
— Marc Delucchi (@maddelucchi) November 15, 2021
The Warriors shot just .465/.286/.688 in the first half with 9 turnovers, but kept the game tied at 57. They needed to find more consistent offense, but were nonetheless within striking distance. That turned out to be the story of the game.
Curry has had plenty of big games in his hometown, but the Hornets were determined to keep him from beating them. They generally succeeded. He finished 3-for-13 from three and was relatively inefficient from two-point range as well.
With Curry quiet, Andrew Wiggins stepped up with another big offensive effort. Wiggins ended several offensive slumps through the game and finished with 28 points on 12-for-18 from the field. However, he scored just two points in the fourth quarter.
While Ball was the story of the first half, Terry Rozier made several big shots for the Hornets in the second. After scoring zero points in the first half, he dropped 20 over the final two quarters. In the final minutes, Rozier converted an and-one jumper from the free-throw line, and ultimately put the game away.
With 90 seconds to go, the Dubs trailed 102-100. Steph could not create much space against Cody Martin and missed a heavily contested three. Ball had an opportunity to make it a two-possession game, but Wiggins stifled him, forcing a shot-clock violation.
Golden State answered by taking advantage of Charlotte’s focus on Steph. Draymond Green faked a handoff and drove all the way to the rim for an easy dunk to tie the game. However, Miles Bridges answered with a baby hook to return the Hornets lead to two.
On the next possession, Curry setup Kevon Looney under the hoop, who was fouled on the shot. A career 60.9% free-throw shooter, Looney missed both free throws, leaving Golden State in a two-point hole with 28 seconds left.
The Hornets expected the Warriors to foul. Instead, Terry Rozier was double-teamed in the backcourt by Green and Andre Iguodala and had nowhere to go. Green forced a jump ball. but Rozier won it and ended up at the free-throw line, where he iced the game.
The Warriors limited the Hornets to 106 points, but Golden State’s threes never started falling. They finished shot just .427/.231/.680 and were 9-for-39 from three. The Dubs had a chance to win in spite of their disappointing offensive output, but their effort ultimately fell short.
The Warriors now head to Brooklyn, where they’ll face off against Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the Nets on Tuesday November 16th at 5:30 pm PST.
Join the postgame Twitch stream to talk about the Warriors latest game here: