What we learned as Warriors lose first game without Steph originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Day 1 of the Warriors without Stephen Curry was encouraging in numerous ways, with the exception of the most significant. They came up short on the scoreboard, taking a 118-106 loss to the 76ers on Friday night in Philadelphia.
Playing without Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Curry, the Warriors led for most of the night and hung around long enough to keep the Sixers on edge. Philly’s 33-24 advantage in the third quarter swung the game its way.
The loss dropped Golden State’s record to 2-14 on the road. Only the Magic, 1-11 away from Orlando, have been worse.
Here are three observations from a night when the Warriors (14-16) did some good things – but not enough to pull out the victory:
Twelve minutes of beautiful offense
They wanted to start fast, rely on the movement of players and the ball and prove Curry’s absence does not automatically make them NBA lunchmeat.
And the Warriors in the first quarter hit every target.
They led by as much as 11 before allowing consecutive 3-pointers for a 38-33 lead after one. They did it by taking and making smart shots, including nine of their first 10 from the field. By sharing the ball, recording 13 assists on 14 field goals. This was, for this roster, a win.
It was enough to render their four turnovers largely irrelevant and nullify a defense leaky enough to allow Philly to shoot 56.5 percent from the field, including 50 percent from deep.
The offense was about good as it would have been scripted by coach Steve Kerr. This team’s best chance to stay afloat without Curry in the next few weeks is if it consistently brings this approach.
Klay’s bad timing
With both Curry and Green watching in street clothes, it was up to Klay Thompson – who was listed as questionable with left knee soreness – to carry and wave the flag representing the team’s championship core.
He neither carried it nor waved it successfully. Quite the opposite, to be frank.
Though the Warriors generally maintained a lead through three quarters, Thompson managed only three points on 1-of-9 shooting. He finished with 12 points, on 4-of-17 shooting from the field, including 3-of-8 from beyond the arc.
He also made a couple glaring defensive errors.
With several younger teammates standing up and producing at a high level, there might have been a different outcome to the game had Thompson been able to summit a game more typical of his talents.
Looney acquits himself nicely
Joel Embiid leads the NBA in scoring and is the most talented scorer among the league’s big men, maybe the best at that component since Shaquille O’Neal.
Slowing Embiid was the assignment of Kevon Looney, who is three inches shorter and about 30 pounds lighter. Embiid gave his team 34 points, 13 rebounds and four steals. He played well.
But Looney played one the best games of his career, with 14 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high nine assists. He added two blocks and two steals.
Yes, he was one assist shy of his first career triple-double.
There is no world in which Looney outplays Embiid, who finished second in the MVP last season and is a legitimate top-tier candidate this season.
But this was a night on which Loon gave the Warriors all they could have hoped for and more.