Finding beauty, benefits in Warriors' ugly win vs. Hornets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- Before adding to his collection of paper airplanes, Klay Thompson looked down at the box score from the Warriors' 110-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets and cracked a smile. So, what inspired the smile?
"Winning the game shooting 22 percent from three," Thompson said, creasing the paper into his creation. "You got to get wins like that if you want to be successful, you know. Those times won't be pretty, but we gutted it out and that's why I'm proud of these guys."
An ugly brand of basketball brought the Warriors exactly what they wanted -- a win. It wasn't what we're used to with Warriors basketball, and it was the opposite of how they took down the Memphis Grizzlies on Christmas. For a team that entered the night with a 16-18 record, style is not what matters.
Results are, and the Warriors are willing to win as pretty or nasty as needed.
Behind Thompson’s four 3-pointers, the Warriors started off hot from deep. They went 6-for-11 in the first quarter on threes, good for a 54.5-percent clip. The second quarter was quite different. This time, Golden State couldn't get a single long-range shot to go down, missing all 11 attempts.
In the final three quarters, they took 26 3-pointers and made only two. Overall, that put them at 8-for-37 on the night. The Warriors before Tuesday night were leading the NBA in 3-pointers per game at 16.2 and ranked fifth in 3-point percentage at 38.1 percent.
Their second straight win saw them make half as many 3-pointers than usual, and 16.5-percent worse than their average. The winning recipe certainly strayed from the norm, and that's not always a bad thing.
While 3-pointers clanked out and the Warriors went cold, they owned the paint. The Warriors averaged 43.8 points in the paint through their first 34 games. The Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks are the only teams behind them. To grind out a win, the Warriors adapted and were rewarded for doing so. They scored 56 points in the paint, 14 more than the Hornets' 42.
Against the Grizzlies, the Warriors made 18 3-pointers and scored 26 points in the paint. The Grizzlies, though, made just nine 3-pointers but scored 50 points in the paint.
The Warriors had some big numbers in their win, like Thompson's 29 points and 24 from Jordan Poole. Donte DiVincenzo went scoreless, one game after scoring a season-high 19 points. Winning role players were needed to outlast the nine-win Hornets without Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins, as seen in DiVincenzo's box score.
At halftime, he was a plus-6 in plus/minus after grabbing six rebounds with four assists and one steal. DiVincenzo finished a plus-4, failing to score on four shots -- all 3-pointers -- but had nine rebounds and seven assists.
"Yeah, Donte is an amazing part of our team, a huge piece," Poole said. "He just knows how to play the game. He's a winning player. He plays with energy, is an extremely elite defender and just being able to play on the court with him, share minutes with him and just trust that he's going to make the right play, that's he's going to be aggressive, that's he's going to make big shots and make big plays and make big stops is huge.
"He is a really big part of why we won these last couple games, and he's going to be really big for us all season."
For all but two seconds of the fourth quarter, Warriors coach Steve Kerr put his trust in Jonathan Kuminga to get his defense on Hornets star LaMelo Ball. Kuminga was so great that Kerr had no choice but to keep him on the court. Kuminga scored eight points in the fourth quarter on a perfect 4-for-4, cutting to the hoop in the dunker spot and even finishing highly impressive shots, like this this runner with the Warriors up by two with a minute and a half to go.
Kuminga also grabbed three rebounds in the fourth quarter, along with one assist and one steal where he ripped the ball out of PJ Washington's hands. He played 23 minutes off the bench, scoring 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
That led to Kerr calling Kuminga's play "brilliant." So was the 20-year-old's mindset.
"Just making winning plays, that's pretty much what I had to do," Kuminga said.
Poole was part of the Warriors' off night from deep, going 1-for-7 beyond the arc. On 2-pointers, he was 8-for-13. His shot chart featured a dunk, a handful of crowd-pleasing layups and smart shots around the rim.
Curry’s left shoulder will be re-evaluated on Jan. 7. Wiggins was physically cleared from his right adductor strain on Tuesday but came down with an illness, and after missing his 11th straight game, he's guaranteed to miss a 12th. His status for Friday's contest with the Portland Trail Blazers is hopeful, not promised.
Health is the game's biggest question mark. The Warriors have to be able to win in multiple ways and styles, with or without their stars. After nearly blowing an 18-point lead, the Warriors showed they can stave off a fight and come out the victors.
Adaption was needed, attacking was necessary. There's no such thing as ugly wins. The latter is all that matters.