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Game Thread: You kick me out? Warriors looking for revenge against Hornets tonight
A late-game ejections sealed the loss, but Golden State gets another quick crack at Curry's hometown team
It was a tough loss, just two points.
While there was plenty of blame to go around after the Warriors recent loss to these same Hornets, 100-102, most of the angst was directed at the referees. Sure, Draymond Green blew up at the perceived injustice, but the back to back dichotomy of “jump ball / timeout” calls was the brutal kidney punch that finally crumpled the Warriors’ resolve.
No whining, just revenge tonight as the Dubs bring their powerful defense to bear on a Hornets team that stole a game the Warriors nearly won even though Stephen Curry sat out. Those are the sorts of missed opportunities that help explain why the Warriors are just 6-4 over their past 10 games, despite steadily improving play.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (18-15) vs Charlotte Hornets (15-16)
WHEN: Friday February 26, 7:00 pm PDT
Remember Tyreke Evans?
There’s a fair amount of chatter surrounding Warriors’ rookie, James Wiseman, and the Hornets’ LaMelo Ball. Some of it is probably driven by SEO click chasing, but that only works because people are generally interested in the chance to compare the #2 and #3 draft picks. For any team drafting that high in the draft, the highest hope is that you’ll find a franchise-altering talent - so of course things like the Rookie of the Year award matter, people are looking for that early feedback.
After a slow start, Ball is gaining traction with the Hornets, and capturing the hearts and minds of NBA fans. He’s recently moved into the starting lineup, as the Hornets lean harder and harder on the rookie. Check out his stats over the last seven games, and the pattern of increased workload:
Ball has averaged 22.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 33.2 minutes per game. He has also improved his shooting, making 48% of his shots and better than 45% of his 3-point attempts, and he’s even racking up 1.4 steals per game on the other end.
The Hornets finally put Ball in the starting lineup early in this stretch and he has seen his minutes increase by month from 20.1 in December to 26.3 in January to 34.3 in February. The minutes are here to stay, and so is the production, it seems.
Wiseman, on the other hand has not seen the same level of success. Thrown into a starting role after the early, season-ending injury to Marquese Chriss, Wiseman was part of a Warriors opening lineup that was problematic. Eventually moving to the bench, Wiseman was putting up decent numbers while also steadily improving defensively. Now, back from a two-week absence due to a sprained wrist, the Warriors’ rookie is a solid step or two behind Ball for Rookie of the Year honors.
But I remember Tyreke Evans, a player that narrowly beat out Stephen Curry for rookie of the year (also, based mostly off the pre All-Star break performances), but ended up floating around the league while Curry transformed the league and became a multiple-time champion, MVP, and hero.
Wiseman is fine. Heck, he’s better than fine:
Wiseman is back in action, tonight being his third game back from the wrist injury. He’s still with the bench unit, where he will remain for the rest of the season barring a major change, or injury; but Wiseman is starting to look better. From a long, detailed post yesterday from user, ndubs, Golden State is beginning to find roster combinations that work well with the big rookie:
Curry/Oubre/Bazemore/Draymond/Wiseman 5 man line-up has played pretty well. Only 23 minutes played, but +32.9 per 48! (even better than the starting 5).
So yes, Ball looks like the runaway Rookie of the Year, but that award is of small importance compared to the arc of the rest of their careers.
Wiseman has looked a bit rough since returning from injury - 25 points (on 17 shots) and seven rebounds; but as has been the story since the beginning, it’s the defense that holds him back. He was relentlessly attacked in the last game, getting fouled out by the Pacers in just 18 minutes of action - and this will need to improve (drastically) moving forward.
But I guess my bottom line here is that you shouldn’t get trapped by the narratives surrounding Wiseman and Ball. And be especially vigilant about anything that paints the outcome of tonight’s first head-to-head matchup as any sort of “a-ha!” result that proves anything. Both players are fun, exciting, and seem to have a ton of room for growth. But tonight is far from the end of the story.
Oh, the Warriors are going to crush this Hornets team. Green’s mad about the ejection, the whole squad knows they almost stole a game without Curry, and Curry is going to be trying to make up time after missing the previous matchup with the team his Father announces games for.
Also, a major LGW announcement: Please be sure to tune in tomorrow for the triumphant return of Daniel Hardee. You’ve all been extremely kind about it, and we appreciate your love for our short-handed team making do; but this website was founded to feature Daniel’s work, and I’m ecstatic to see him jogging back out of the locker room!
I don’t get to do this often, but every time I write on a Friday, I try to include some music to add to the festive atmosphere. Feel free to ignore it, but here’s Oakland-based punk band, Grumpster.