Kurtenbach: Warriors 3 Things – Clamps on LeBron, Klay’s 3-point Easter eggs and unreleased Jonathan Kuminga

It’s a Warriors team that Draymond Green misses.

This is a Warriors team desperate to fast forward to the All-Star break.

But the Warriors found a way not to let a small slip-up turn into something bigger on Saturday night.

A game in mid-February is basically inconsequential. But I can’t help but be in awe of the Warriors rocking out and hanging on to beat the Lakers on Saturday night at Chase Center.

Klay Thompson deserves most of the kudos for the Warriors win. The sharpshooter was down 16 of the Warriors’ 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead Golden State to victory.

Should Saturday’s match have turned into a close fight?

Probably not.

But this is the NBA, and while the character of the Warriors should never be in question, that doesn’t mean it can’t be praised. That kind of effort they showed on Saturday — as aesthetically unappealing as it was for stretching — will make this team make it through the playoffs.

Some other thoughts on a clunky but entertaining game:

It’s not fair to say that LeBron James went 1 for 10 in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, as the box score indicates. It was more like 1 for 8.

Oh, and four turnovers and a missed free throw loser too.

The King has received little to no help from his court – more on that later – but in the meantime, props must be given to the Warriors defenders who have kept James in check.

Otto Porter was wonderful for the Warriors on Saturday. His bounce, spacing and weight played a huge part in the contest. He held James 0-2 on shots in the fourth – and it was clear LeBron wanted nothing to do with the drive against the veteran wing early in the quarter.

Nemanja Bjelica managed to stop James – who saw that coming?

Thompson picked one up too.

But it was Andrew Wiggins who shot the James card the most on Saturday, and he was wonderful on the No. 6 in the fourth, holding him 1 of 4 shots.

He highlighted the fourth quarter formula for the Warriors, which, of course, takes a hit without Green in the lineup.

But, basically, it’s Wiggins who puts the pliers on the opposing team’s best perimeter player and Thompson takes the extra energy he has because he’s an assisting side defender and uses it. to make it rain.

When Green returns, the Warriors will have one hell of a closing four – Green, Wiggins, Thompson and Steph Curry.

All can play defense – three at exceptionally high levels (though we’ll get to on Thompson in due course). Three will be able to score during an All-Star clip.

And all four fit together almost perfectly.

Throw in an Andre Iguodala or Kevon Looney for defense, or Otto Porter or Jordan Poole for offense, and the Warriors can have a little fun late in games.

Will there be teams that can match? Sure.

But there won’t be many.

Thompson’s game – as impressive as it may be at its best, as it was late Saturday – carries an Easter egg that popped up again and again and again on Saturday:

If you give him the ball on a second chance for possession, he will shoot it.

No contemplation. No dribbling. No looks around the field. The shot clock might not even be reset, but that ball is going up – and probably going into the basket.

It’s been happening for years – I remember being told about it for the first time during my second game covering the team in 2014.

And while, of course, he’s popped up a few times over the past month, Saturday was a concentrated dose.

Thompson had three 3-pointers and a long shot where he had his toes in play in the fourth quarter against the Lakers.

All four marks came after the shot clock was reset.

Thompson could have been classified as a stopper before his two-and-a-half-year absence. At least on the nights he was out – nobody complains about the ball stopping when it crosses the net.

But Thompson has been anything but a ball stopper since his return. He dribbles more, makes it easier for his teammates, and leads to a much higher clip than I (admittedly vaguely) remember.

However, Thompson still has that shooter DNA, and it came to fruition in 8K resolution on Saturday with those second-chance 3-pointers.

It’s kinda funny to watch, but it’s still beautiful when number 11 fires.

No one can deny that anymore. Jonathan Kuminga is a true NBA rotation player and maybe even an impact player for this Warriors team.

You know, now, how I feel about the 19-year-old’s game. It’s absurd how polite he is.

Just think about the quality of Kuminga’s cut.

He didn’t do that at the start of the season. Even in 2021, he barely did and he often lacked the necessary incisiveness.

Now? He’s one of the Dubs’ best cutters in an offense that demands cutting.

There are veterans who have been in this system for years who can’t do it like him – and making hard cuts isn’t about athleticism.

Hell, remember last year, when Kelly Oubre refused to cut, like, at all.

He’s a guy who made $50 million in the NBA and yet lacked an ounce of basketball IQ to go along with enviable athleticism.

Kuminga is probably the best athlete on every court he steps on except for a game against the Bucks, and he’s dripping with basketball IQ.

Really, it’s a credit to the G-League. It’s a credit to veteran Warriors leaders. It’s a credit to the Warriors coaching staff. It’s an honor for the Warriors front office to have seen it in this guy.

But never let the credit leave Kuminga.

The child is special. How special? It will take years to find out.

But special enough to be a critical player for a title contender as a teenager.

It’s just not normal.

Enjoy the show – it only gets better.

Alicia R. Rucker