What we learned as Kuminga’s 29 fuels Warriors’ win over Grizzlies

What we learned as Kuminga’s 29 fuels Warriors’ win over Grizzlies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Jonathan Kuminga remained the Warriors’ hottest offensive player, scoring 15 of his game-high 29 points in the second quarter, fueling a road-trip opening 121-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at FedExForum.

Stephen Curry, who was chosen as a Western Conference All-Star reserve Thursday, had 20 points and six assists. Klay Thompson returned after missing a game due to an illness and scored 14 points.

Brandin Podziemski had 12 points, seven rebounds and a career-high 14 assists. His assists are the most by any NBA rookie this season and the most by a Warriors rookie since Ky Bowman had 11 nearly four years ago.

Unlike when the two teams met on Jan. 15 when the short-handed Grizzlies couldn’t miss from the perimeter and handled the Warriors fairly easily, Golden State took control early Friday and maintained a comfortable lead most of the night.

The Grizzlies once again were at less than full strength but this time, they didn’t get the big games off the bench like they did a few weeks ago. GG Jackson, who had a career-high 23 points with five 3-pointers in Memphis’ Jan. 15 win, was held to one point in 16 minutes during the rematch.

The Warriors (21-24) still had their defensive issues. The Grizzlies (18-31), who made 20 3s in the first game, again got open looks from the perimeter and shot 14 of 46 beyond the arc.

The game was the first of five over a seven-day stretch for Golden State, which probably is why coach Steve Kerr reached deep into his bench, giving seldom-used players like Gui Santos and Lester Quinones some burn. Quinones had career-high of 10 points and six rebounds, while Santos scored four points.

Here are the takeaways from the Warriors’ 20-point win:

Kuminga’s streak reaches milestone

Kuminga’s scoring surge over the past month has been a welcomed boost for Golden State’s offense. The Warriors have been searching for a consistent complementary scorer to Curry all season, and the 21-year-old forward has provided that while Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins continue to be up and down.

Kuminga, who also had six rebounds, now has scored in double figures in 25 consecutive games, including the last eight with 20 or more. It’s the longest double figures streak by a Golden State player under 22 years old since Monta Ellis did it in 48 consecutive games during the 2007-08 NBA season.

The way JK is playing has silenced a lot of the criticism that’s followed him throughout the early stages of his career. It also shows why owner Joe Lacob has no desire to part ways with the phenom as the trade deadline looms.

Kerr’s frustration boils over

For weeks now – and probably a lot longer than that – Kerr has been complaining about the lack of calls going Curry’s way. After seeing the two-time NBA MVP get clobbered and hit in the head in the first quarter, Kerr’s anger got the best of him. He walked onto the court to complain and was quickly hit with a technical foul.

Kerr has made veiled references to the discrepancies he has seen when it comes to calls going Curry’s ways this season, and he has facts to back it up.

While Curry is most famous for his 3-point prowess, he goes aggressively at the hoop plenty and should be receiving many more fouls than he does. Going into the game with the Grizzlies, Curry led the NBA in free throw percentage but was averaging only 5.5 attempts a game, 28th overall and eighth-fewest among point guards. Friday, he went 4-for-4 from the stripe.

Where did Saric‘s minutes go?

With Dario Saric unavailable and not currently with the team on the road trip due to an illness, Kerr got a little creative with how he divvied up the minutes that veteran big man usually gets.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, who has seen his playing time dip significantly over the past two weeks, was the first to get a crack at filling Saric’s shoes. The rookie finished with five points in nine minutes.

Santos also got onto the floor to help fill the gap. The Warriors’ 2022 second-round draft pick, who previously only played in six games this season, made both shots he took and was a plus-five in 10:46 minutes.

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