BY MASON BISSADA
Though the Golden State Warriors roster looked noticeably different after their various trade deadline moves, the results of Saturday night’s game against Los Angeles were fairly similar to most games this season, as they lost a close game to the Lakers 125 -120 at Chase Center.
Andrew Wiggins, the most notable addition to the roster, looked comfortable in a Golden State uniform, going for 24 points on 8-12 shooting and 3-4 from beyond the arc. Wiggins also pitched in a bit of defense to a team that desperately needed it, grabbing five steals (one shy of his career-high) in his 31 minutes. Wiggins spent a significant portion of his time playing off the ball, something he’ll have to adjust to, particularly when Steph Curry returns in a few weeks.
It was encouraging to see Wiggins connecting on his spot-up jumpers and running the floor in transition. Defensively, Kerr assigned Wiggins the unenviable task of slowing LeBron James, who dropped 22 points and 11 assists on the former top pick in the draft by the Timberwolves. Though his body type would suggest he’d be a lockdown perimeter defender, he still has a ways to go in terms of strength and decision-making.
“It’s just great to have a player who we can put on LeBron and at least match up physically,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “It’s the hardest position to guard these days in the NBA. So to have a guy who’s 6’8 and athletic and knows the league well and understands how to play, it’s great.”
“I just felt good on the court,” Wiggins said of his Warriors debut. “Let the game come to me. The whole team, we were all unselfish tonight. We moved the ball and we competed. That’s the most important thing.”
Wiggins encouraging offensive play was not enough to keep the Warriors alive against the #1 seed in the Western Conference. Despite cutting what was a 20-point deficit to five points with under a minute to go in regulation, half of the Chase Center (the other half were Laker fans) had their spirits crushed by James, who hit a tough, contested stepback 3-pointer to seal the victory for his Lakers. To paint a picture, the shot seemed eerily similar to the one he made against the Warriors back in 2014 when he was a member of the Miami Heat.
The Lakers, known for their front court size and athleticism, outrebounded the Warriors 47-33. Anthony Davis led the charge with 10 rebounds of his own to go along with 27 points on 9-14 shooting. Defensively, Golden State’s bigs were no match for the seven-time all-star. Davis was dunking over the top of the likes of Alen Smailagic when he wasn’t hitting turnaround jumpshots out of the post.
Newly signed Warrior Marquese Chriss had one of the best nights of his career, going for 26 points and nine rebounds on an extremely efficient 12-15 shooting. Chriss was dunking all over the arena, catching countless lobs from Ky Bowman, who had a career-high 10 assists. Bowman and Chriss pick-and-roll chemistry was electric, and the Lakers often had no answer for it despite their superior size.
“I like playing with Ky,” Chriss said postgame. I think we have a good understanding of what each other’s strengths are and he likes to get downhill so I just kind of sit and dunk it for him.”
Jordan Poole had one of his better nights as a Warrior, scoring 19 points on 8-12 shooting and hitting three of his seven three-point attempts. Surprisingly, Poole was the Warriors go-to option down the stretch, delivering clutch jumpers off of dribble-handoffs or off his own dribble. Poole has shown signs of life over the last 10 games after having one of worst first half’s of the year of any rookie this season. Time will tell if he can continue to shoot the ball efficiently.
G-League call-ups Jeremy Pargo, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Zach Norvell Jr. each had small moments of glory on the night and proved that they can hold their own against NBA-level competition. Rotating 10-day contracts will continue to be the norm for the Warriors for the rest of the season, after trading away six of their players at the deadline and needing to fill roster spots on a nightly basis.
The Warriors continue to surprise more-talented teams with their resilience and willingness to fight a losing battle until the bitter end. The Lakers may not have known the names of half the players on Golden State’s roster, but that didn’t stop them from hanging around until the final buzzer.
Golden State will welcome Miami to the Chase Center on Monday, where former Warrior Andre Iguodala may make his season-debut after being traded to the Heat just a few days ago.
After opening up roster spots through various trades at the deadline, Golden State was able to sign two-way call-ups Ky Bowman and Marquese Chriss to multi-year contracts.
Golden State made 51.7 percent of their shots from the field, losing their first game of the season when shooting 50 percent-or-better (2-1).
Wiggins 24 points were the most in a Warriors debut since Kevin Durant scored 27 points in 2016 against San Antonio.
Prior to tonight’s loss, the Warriors had won 12 of their last 13 home games against the Lakers.
The game marked the first time in his career that LeBron James played a NBA game in San Francisco.
Alen Smailagić matched his career-high with 10 points off the bench.
Kevon Looney had five fouls in 14 minutes of play.
Saturday was Klay Thompson’s 30th birthday.