After a long offseason, the Golden State Warriors made their highly-anticipated return to the court on opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season against the Los Angeles Lakers.
While a slow start put Steve Kerr’s squad behind early, the Warriors’ old signature “strength in numbers” effect was put on display. With a rare Steph Curry cold shooting night underway, Jordan Poole and Nemanja Bjelica led Golden State back into the contest in the second half.
A late run featuring Poole’s scoring and Bjelica’s playmaking helped push the Warriors to a comeback win over LeBron James and the Lakers. Despite shooting 47.4% shooting from the field and 35.7% shooting from deep, the Warriors finished the contest with 30 assists.
With a 1-0 start on the books, here is a look at the player grades and game ball winner from the regular-season opener against the Lakers:
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Steph Curry: B-
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It’s tough to describe Steph Curry’s performance against the Lakers on Tuesday. There’s no doubt Curry struggled to shoot the ball, shooting a lowly 5-of-21 from the field for 21 points. The defending scoring champ also struggled from beyond the arc, hitting on two 3-pointers on eight attempts.
However, the seven-time All-Star guard tacked on 10 rebounds and 10 assists to record his first triple-double performance since 2016. While his shooting wasn’t up to his standards, the guard found a way to make an impact with rebounds and assists. Curry led the team in assists and only trailed Nemanja Bjelica for rebounds.
On Thursday at Chase Center, Curry will have the chance to bounce back from his off shooting night in front of Golden State’s fanbase for the home opener in the Bay Area against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Draymond Green: B-
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To start the game, Draymond Green was still knocking the rust off. Green had to leave the contest in the first quarter due to a pair of early fouls. With Green off the floor, the Lakers took advantage with Anthony Davis in the post.
While he was aggressive offensively, the former Defensive Player of the Year finished the first half shooting 2-of-5 from the floor. Although he only added two points in the second half, Green was aggressive as a rebounder and passer.
Green finished the contest with six points, eight boards and six assists in 30 minutes.
Andrew Wiggins: B
In only 26 minutes for the Warriors on Tuesday night, Andrew Wiggins was active up and down the court. He was one of six members of the Warriors to tally double-figures in points with 12 on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. Wiggins added seven rebounds, an assist and a steal.
One of Wiggins’ buckets came on a clutch 3-pointer from a Bjelica pass with under three minutes remaining in the game. The Wiggins triple gave Golden State a commanding 12 point lead late in the game.
Jordan Poole: A
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
While Nemanja Bjelica may have stole the show, Jordan Poole provided a consistent scoring presence to help the Warriors seal the victory over the Lakers.
After a slow start in the first half, shooting just 2-of-8 from the field, Poole turned it on in the final two frames.
Poole finished the game scoring 20 points with 16 coming in the second half. While Curry struggled to shoot the ball, Poole stepped up. The Michigan product buried four triples on seven attempts from deep in the second half against the Lakers.
Kevon Looney: C
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Kevon Looney got the Warriors on the board, scoring the first bucket of the 2021-22 campaign. However, the big man didn’t make much of an impact in only 15 minutes of action.
Looney recorded seven points on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor. The veteran big only grabbed four boards while on the floor.
Until James Wiseman returns, Looney will serve as one of Golden State’s only true bigs on the roster. As Steve Kerr trusts him, he will continue to receive significant playing time in the frontcourt to start the season.
Nemanja Bjelica: A+
The story of the night was the arrival of Nemanja Bjelica. The Serbian forward was a key piece in Golden State’s victory over Los Angeles. In his first appearance with the Warriors, the six-year NBA veteran notched a double-double with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds.
In 23 minutes off the bench, Bjelica was at the center of Golden State’s playmaking. The 33-year-old made several critical passes that led to impactful buckets in the Warriors second half comeback. Bjelica recorded four assists against the Lakers.
Game Ball Award.
Andre Iguodala: B+
Building off of Bjelica’s performance off the bench, Andre Iguodala looked like he hasn’t missed a beat since leaving Golden State for Miami. Along with Bjelica, Kerr called on Iguodala as one of the first players off the bench in the first quarter.
The veteran forward hit a pair of big 3-pointers on his way to scoring 12 points in 23 minutes. Iguodala added two assists, a rebound and a steal against the Lakers.
Damion Lee: B+
Lee served as one of Golden State’s key reserves in the backcourt on Tuesday, scoring 15 points off the bench on 4-of-10 shooting from the floor. Like the rest of his teammates, Lee struggled to shoot it from beyond the arc, the only reason he didn’t earn an A grade against the Lakers.
Playing behind or alongside Curry, Lee showed excellent control of Kerr’s offense. Anytime the Warriors were moving the ball well on the offensive side of the floor, Lee was likely involved. The veteran guard notched two assists and zero turnovers in 26 minutes.
Otto Porter Jr.: C
After a solid run in the preseason, Porter Jr. looked like he would be one of Kerr’s lead options off the bench. However, the veteran forward only played 12 minutes off the bench. Which felt like a surprise, especially with the Warriors struggling to shoot from deep.
In limited action, Porter Jr. shot 1-of-3 from the floor, hitting one triple. Porter Jr. should get the opportunity to pair with Bjelica off the bench in the future. The Georgetown standout will need to make his minutes count as the Warriors find their rotation to start the season.
Juan Toscano-Anderson: B
It was clear Anthony Davis was a matchup nightmare for Juan Toscano-Anderson and the rest of the Warriors on Tuesday night. The Lakers continued to attack the Oakland native when he was matched up with the former No. 1 overall pick. Davis did give Toscano-Anderson what seemed to be a no-call push-off that led to a bucket for the Lakers.
Toscano-Anderson did come in clutch in the third quarter, hitting a 3-pointer to cut the Lakers’ led to only five points. Clearly his biggest moment of the night.