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Post-game thread: Damion Lee's clutch free throws lift Warriors to victory over the Raptors, 106-105
Damion Lee saves the day while his brother-in-law struggled against the Raptors.
Tonight, we saw how difficult it is for the Golden State Warriors to beat teams when Curry isn’t otherworldly.
With Curry struggling through a 2-for-16 shooting performance, the Warriors needed clutch free throws from Damion Lee with 4.3 seconds left to put away the Toronto Raptors in a 106-105 win.
After leading by as many as 17 points, the Warriors found themselves down 105-104 in the waning moments of the game with the ball in their possession. Lee was then fouled on a contested jumper from the right wing after a busted play. After he calmly knocked down two free throws, the Raptors came up short on their final possession to give the Warriors the win.
This is the first game of the season that the Warriors have won without Curry going over 30 points, which says as much about a struggling Raptors team as it does about the Warriors performance — with Curry struggling, the Warriors were actually outscored by the Raptors 33-19 in the fourth quarter.
With his shot not falling, Curry found ways to fill the boxscore in other ways with nine rebounds and six assists to go with his 11 points. Lee scored 13 points, including 3-for-6 shooting from the 3-point line and his clutch free throws. Draymond Green was one rebound off a triple-double with 10 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds as he continues to fill the point-forward role admirably.
But let’s talk about Andrew Wiggins for a moment too…
If you, like me, have been … uh … skeptical … about Andrew Wiggins, this game could either have helped you build trust in the former first round pick or continue to grumble about his bloated contract.
Wiggins scored a team-high 17 points during a game in which Curry struggled — he really made his presence felt in the first three quarters or so. But he was just 1-for-7 in the fourth quarter and looked like his legs were gone. So despite the team-high points, he was also had a team-low -8 plus/minus.
Now I don’t want to read too much into single game plus/minus ratings. But the pattern of his whole career has been stretches of really amazing play overshadowed by longer stretches of mediocrity or outright disappearing from relevance. And in a way, that’s what happened for him this game. But there were some bright spots in there.
Despite the poor fourth quarter, we’re really seeing Wiggins start to hit his stride — he clearly can be effective in this role on this team. Although he ultimately struggled at the end of this game, he was really solid for three quarters.
If you didn’t watch the game, Wiggins’ boxscore stats will tell you part of the story — no doubt his four blocks as representative of his continued defensive effort. But his defense overall has to be part of the story here: he seems to get more effective at using his length with every game and seems way more deliberate in his rotations. And, it has to be noted that Wiggins was the man defending the Raptors’ final shot.After some outstanding defense on Kawhi Leonard against the L.A. Clippers, he’s really starting to establish himself as a presence as both and on-ball and team defender.
On offense, his four assists came as the result of clearly feeling out his teammates within the offense a lot better and simply making the right pass at the right time. He wasn’t great — which is not what should be expected of him — but he’s filling a role and you can easily see how he could have a place on this team once Klay Thompson comes back.
We bore witness to half-decade of greatness and this iteration of the Warriors is far from great. But the Warriors were (barely) good enough tonight and in a season without Klay Thompson that’s good enough for me.