Klay, Wiggs fail to deliver for Warriors in Steph’s absence

Klay, Wiggs fail to deliver for Warriors in Steph’s absence originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Rolling into Dallas for the first of three games against the Mavericks that could have massive implications, the Warriors, missing Stephen Curry, surely were hoping their veterans would fill most of the scoring void.

Particularly their championship veterans. And when Draymond Green was scratched before tipoff with back soreness, that left Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, two bejeweled Warriors who in their careers have a combined 124 games of at least 30 points.

They combined for 25 Wednesday night – 18 before Dallas took control early in the fourth quarter – and their impoverished output left Golden State starving for offense that never came in a 109-99 loss at American Airlines Center.

Holding the Mavericks, who average 119 points, to 109 was an accomplishment. Failing to score more than 99 against a team that gives up an average of 117.5 was the kind of utter failure coach Steve Kerr could not dismiss.

Every seventh shot the Warriors took was blocked, most of them by center Daniel Gafford (seven). The Warriors shot only 40.2 percent from the field, including 32.1 percent from distance. Chris Paul, Thompson and Wiggins combined to shoot 12 of 37 overall.

“Our defense was not the problem; it was much more our offense,” Kerr told reporters in Dallas. “They had 13 blocked shots. A lot of those were just us kind of wildly driving into Gafford without, you know, getting a body into him first to take him out of his shot-blocking position. And then just a lot of stagnant position possessions. Not enough flow, not enough movement.”

With Curry out, the bulk of the offense falls into the hands of Jonathan Kuminga, Wiggins and Thompson. They are the primary scorers because they’ve shown themselves capable.

Only Kuminga did his part, with a game-high 27 points, on 8-of-17 shooting, including 2 of 2 from deep. He also had six turnovers, with those numbers perhaps inflated by him realizing he wasn’t getting much help from his more seasoned comrades.

“It doesn’t really matter what I did,” Kuminga said. “We were still losing.”

Wiggins had 10 points through the first three quarters, during which the Warriors stayed close despite being behind after the first quarter. He finished with 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field, including 1 of 4 from distance.

Thompson, back in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, totaled eight points on 3-of-13 shooting from the field, including 2 of 7 from beyond the arc.

“Obviously, Steph’s the biggest part of our team,” said Trayce Jackson-Davis, who started at center and contributed 10 points and nine rebounds. “But at the same time, we can’t let them carry that whole load. We’ve got to step up as well.”

The lack of proficiency from Wiggins and Thompson was not because they weren’t trying deliver for the team. That they managed but one assist between them indicates their priority was to provide scoring.

Which made sense insofar as that’s what the Warriors needed from them. And it’s more difficult to produce when neither Curry nor Green are there to set them up for easier paths to scoring.

“They’ve got two really good defenders in Gafford and [Dereck] Lively, and they’re rotating bigs so they’re staying fresh,” said Jackson-Davis, who had to cope with both centers. “They’re tough to go against. During the game, they shrunk the paint a lot and they kind of let us not necessarily shoot wide open shots. They were playing drives and lobs and all that stuff, trying to cut that out and make us shoot jump shots.”

The plan was successful. The Warriors made nine 3-pointers, only the third time this season they failed to hit at least 10. They recorded only 19 assists, tying a season low, while turning the ball over 17 times to give Dallas 21 points.

Golden State (31-34) fell 3.5 games behind the Mavericks in the Western Conference. And, having lost to them twice, cannot win the season series should a head-to-head tiebreaker come into play after the regular season.

The Warriors have lost four of their last six games. The wave of momentum they built in February has faded. With 17 games remaining, their chances of winning enough games to climb from 10th to sixth in the West are rapidly shrinking.

“But I still like who our team is,” Kerr said. “We’re hoping to get Steph back for Saturday.”

Well, yes. And Draymond, too. That should make quite the difference, as the full-strength Warriors can be formidable. Fearsome, even, when all the decorated vets are contributing.

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