Warriors' new addition impresses despite loss to Lakers
SAN FRANCISCO — Steve Kerr’s instructions for Andrew Wiggins before his first game with Golden State were simple and basic: Sprint the floor.
No requirements or rules about shots. Just some good old hustle.
“I told him, ‘No matter what happens we need you to sprint the floor, both ways,’” Kerr said after Wiggins scored 24 points in his impressive Warriors debut Saturday night, a 125-120 loss to LeBron James and the Lakers.
James leaned on his supporting cast to carry the load until he heated up in the second half and finished with 22 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
Wiggins shot 8 for 12 with three 3-pointers and accounted for five of the Warriors’ 15 steals. Golden State acquired him from the Minnesota Timberwolves before Thursday’s deadline in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans III and Omari Spellman.
Kerr also appreciated having Wiggins to defend James “and at least match up physically.”
“It’s the hardest position to guard these days in the NBA,” Kerr said.
Wiggins knew his job on night No. 1 was to “compete” and focus on playing fundamental basketball. Now, he is ready to embrace a new start out west with some sunny California weather and Stephen Curry as a cheerleader on the sideline as the two-time MVP works back from a broken left hand.
“I was like, if it happens, it happens, it’s going to be a blessing either way,” Wiggins said. “This whole thing didn’t really feel real until they announced my name.”
Avery Bradley added 21 points with five 3-pointers and Anthony Davis had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles on a night the Warriors honored Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and the other seven helicopter crash victims during Golden State’s first home game since the deadly accident Jan. 26 in Southern California.
The Lakers, who had lost three of their previous five including a 121-111 defeat at home to Houston on Thursday, tried to pull away in the third against the new-look Warriors but Golden State stayed just close enough to make it interesting down the stretch.
Marquese Chriss shot 12 for 15 on the way to 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Warriors, who got within 116-111 on Eric Paschall’s dunk with 3:13 to play. Ky Bowman contributed 10 assists and Jordan Poole scored 19 points off the bench.
Wiggins’ addition meant a lot to the young Golden State core that is still around on the league’s last-place team at 12-41.
“That is who he is,” Chriss said. “He’s one of those people you could consider a professional scorer.”
A 24-second moment of silence was held for the nine helicopter crash victims, who were honored on the outdoor video board at Chase Center. All fans received a black Bryant T-shirt with his Nos. 8 and 24 and Gianna’s 2.
Nine beams of light were shone up from the court before the game in remembrance.
Kerr admires James for saying he will carry on Bryant’s legacy.
“You are talking about two of the greatest players in the history of the game. LeBron is already doing that. He was doing that most of his career,” Kerr said. “Once he established himself as one of the very best, he was carrying on the legacies of previous greats. It’s how this league works. It will be very emotional tonight for all of us to honor Kobe.“
“... It’s amazing the sense of loss even for those of us that didn’t know him very well. Everything just feels hollow. We grieve for Kobe and Gianna and the other families all involved. It’s something that’s not going to get any easier right away.”