JP and JK tease new era of Warriors basketball in win over Hornets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors opened the door to disaster on Tuesday night and weren’t quite sure how to close it. The level of concern went through the roof of the Chase Center because they knew Stephen Curry was unavailable.
Neither did Andrew Wiggins. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, both active and in combat, had been unable to drop the hammer on the pesky but deeply flawed Charlotte Hornets.
So the children came to the rescue.
With a game that should never have come close – and wouldn’t have been if not for cheated possessions and cold shooting streaks – Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga combined for 16 of 21 points in Golden State in the fourth quarter, making sure it wasn’t. t slip away.
“It boosts their confidence,” Thompson said after the 110-105 win. “And then I know it builds the coach’s confidence to be able to trust him.”
The final five minutes, with JP and JK combining for 11 points as Golden State beat Charlotte 12-7, ushered in an intriguing new era. We’ve seen the four rings veterans – Andre Iguodala, Curry, Green and Thompson – work beautifully in tight moments on the grandest of stages. Their achievements are recorded.
We’ve seen the 23-year-old Poole play the hero before, last season and again this season, defeating stubborn opponents with his precise shot and a variety of sliding moves that break down defences. He did it again that night.
“Jordan closed out the game nicely with some rotational moves and layups and found JK for a one-on-one dunk,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We need his ability to break down the defense and create an attack for us and he did a good job tonight.”
JP needed a very effective sidekick. Enter Kuminga.
The sophomore forward, who turned 20 in October, rarely gets meaningful minutes behind in close games — and never a full fourth quarter. But Kerr stayed with him. Even as the Hornets cut an 11-point deficit to tie, Kuminga was on the court for all but two seconds of the fourth.
“We went with him in his defense,” Kerr said. “He plays very well defensively, and he was guarding LaMelo (Ball) and I just wanted to stick with him because of the impact he had on the ball and with his energy. He made tremendous defensive plays and that has led to a few attacking plays.
“. . . He was rewarded for this defensive effort. He was just brilliant.
While largely responsible for shooting Ball 7 of 25 (28%) from the field, Kuminga finished with 14 points, on 6 of 6 shooting from the field, while submitting six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
It was in the fourth quarter, however, where Kuminga found a level not seen in any of his previous 100 NBA games. Called for a loose ball foul with 4:57 remaining, he gritted his teeth and clenched his fists and gave a lofty air of determination.
What followed was JK shoving the best of his game down the Hornets throat.
Kuminga shot 3 of 3 from the field in the final three minutes, with two dunks and a trick floater. He added three rebounds (two using brute force), an assist and a steal, snatching the ball from Hornets big man PJ Washington with 3:16 remaining and the score tied at 101-101.
“He looked like Andre Iguodala on that game,” Kerr said. “It’s an André type game, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. André has coached him throughout the season and last year.
“(Kuminga) has really come a long way. With the focus on defense over the past month, he’s kind of found a role and settled into it.
Warriors not named Poole or Kuminga scored five points on 2-of-11 shooting in the fourth quarter. JP and JK combined to shoot 7 of 9 for their 16 points.
“Incredibly proud,” Thompson said of Kuminga. “I mean just huge buckets on the stretch while playing the ball in defense all over the pitch. Without him, his efforts, we wouldn’t have won tonight. So, I’m incredibly proud of JK, he just became his own.
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This finish bodes well for the future and perhaps can be used to inspire more times when the youngsters on the roster collaborate to do what vets have been doing for a decade.
Children don’t grow up overnight, but every step forward is a sign of progress.
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