Home NBA No more NBA Finals for Steph? That's one pundit's hot take – NBCSports.com

No more NBA Finals for Steph? That's one pundit's hot take – NBCSports.com

6 min read


SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors gutted nearly half of their team before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline for a chance at a brighter future.

But in their first game in a new era, they continued their losing ways, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 125-120 on Saturday night. 

The game featured a solid performance from Andrew Wiggins in his Warriors debut, which was overshadowed by Los Angeles’ star power. Lakers forward LeBron James finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, while Anthony Davis added 27 points of his own.

In a matchup that the Warriors (12-41) dominated in recent years, the Lakers (39-12) have won two straight regular-season games, momentarily ruling the in-state rivalry.

Here are the takeaways from the game at Chase Center.

Wiggins’ solid debut

A bunch of questions surrounded Wiggins before his Warriors debut, including if the forward would even play two days after being shipped to the Bay from Minnesota. He did play, and in 31 minutes, he showed positive signs, finishing with 24 points, two rebounds and three assists. 

Wiggins hit his first shot eight minutes into the contest, off a pass from rookie Eric Paschall. By the end of the first half, Wiggins had scored 13 points, including two 3-pointers.

Wiggins’ most noteworthy performance, however, came on defense. One minute into the game, he played solid defense against James in the post, forcing a missed jumper. A quarter later, Wiggins deflected a James pass, forcing another takeaway. By the end of the night, Wiggins finished with a team-high five steals.

Wiggins will continue to be Golden State’s biggest project entering the back half of the season. Saturday provided a good baseline for what the Warriors want him to be. 

Chriss makes a statement

With Willie Cauley-Stein and Omari Spellman now on other teams, Chriss is the Warriors’ starting center. He showed he belonged Saturday, finishing with 26 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes. 

Much of Chriss’ damage came in the first half, when he scored 20 points and added four rebounds, displaying a diverse skill set along the way.

Of the eight players added by the Warriors last summer, Chriss has had the most unique season. 

Last month, he was cut, then went through waivers without a team picking up his salary, before signing a two-way deal with the Warriors. Now, after signing a guaranteed contract for the remainder of the season, he has a chance to be in the Warriors’ rotation long term. 

Saluting Kobe

In what’s become a nightly occurrence league-wide, the Warriors paid tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other passengers who were killed in a helicopter crash last month. 

[RELATED: Steph wears Kobe jersey under coat during game]

Prior to tip-off, the Warriors showed a 90-second video in remembrance of Bryant. Additionally, shirts featuring 24, 8 and 2 — Kobe and Gianna’s jersey numbers — and nine stars for the victims were passed out to the sold-out crowd at Chase Center. Steph Curry wore a gold Lakers jersey featuring Bryant’s No. 24 on the front, and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green wore the shirts given out to the fans. 

Though never a member of the organization, Bryant’s presence loomed large for the Warriors. As a teenager, Thompson worked out with the future Hall of Famer, and Green called Bryant a mentor. In a time when the league continues to mourn, the Warriors said goodbye to Bryant one last time. 

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