JK proving to be consistent scorer for Warriors despite loss

NBC Sports Bay Area

The Warriors have been searching for a consistent scorer to complement Stephen Curry for most of the 2023-24 NBA season. Jonathan Kuminga is starting to look like he might be that guy.

In a game where just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong, Kuminga provided one of the few bright spots for the Warriors during Saturday’s 126-113 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Chase Center.

Kuminga shook off a slow first half and provided Golden State with a few bright spots during an otherwise ugly game. He sank eight of 11 shots in the second half and finished with 26 points.

As always, Kuminga did his best work inside the key, where he has been pretty dominant all season. He didn’t have many of his patent thunderous drives down the lane, but he mostly was effective on a night when not many Warriors were.

Unfortunately for Golden State, it wasn’t nearly enough — even against the worst team in the Western Conference missing its top two scorers.

The Warriors dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of.

“We let up a little bit starting the game,” Kuminga told reporters at Chase Center. “It was tough to get back. The second half we tried to do our best to get back in the game, but it was a little bit late.”

Kuminga’s night was far from perfect. He had two of the team’s 12 turnovers and committed a pair of fouls over the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter.

Still, his overall game was solid. It was the fifth time in Kuminga’s last seven games that he has dropped at least 20 points on an opponent. He has done that 18 times in the 62 games he has played in during the 2023-24 season.

And it came on the heels of two very productive games that showcased just how good Kuminga can be. He had 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in a dominant win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, then followed that up with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to the Chicago Bulls a day later.

As they try to make a push for better positioning in the West, the Warriors absolutely need more games like this out of the big guy.

Beginning with an 11-for-11 performance against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 24, Kuminga has been shooting at a very effective rate. Including his 10-for-17 outing against the Spurs, the 21-year-old is connecting at an efficient 55.3-percent clip (177 for 320).

“Jon was great tonight at the rim,” Klay Thompson said. “Hopefully he takes that same approach when we see them on Monday.”

Kuminga did all of his scoring against the Spurs inside the key, which is nothing new. But without Stephen Curry on the floor, the Warriors had spacing issues.

Kuminga, who usually is quick to attack when he finds an open lane created by Curry, didn’t have many of those kind of opportunities with the star guard sidelined and instead settled for short shots near the rim.

That made it extremely difficult for the Warriors and Kuminga to get much going consistently.

Kuminga, however, wasn’t ready to latch onto the excuse of everything falling apart because Curry didn’t play. The Warriors, he insisted, have to be able to overcome pitfalls like that.

“I feel like we have a great team to compete against anybody,” Kuminga said. “Of course we’re going to feel Steph’s absence, but [that] can’t be a reason, because Steph’s not playing is why we’re losing. Obviously he comes in and changes the game, but just because we’re missing him don’t mean we have to go out there and lose.”

Curry isn’t going to play when the two teams go at it again Monday in San Antonio, so they’ll likely face some of the same defenses and hurdles that the Spurs threw at them at Chase Center.

But as long as Kuminga keeps playing the way he’s been, the Warriors should have a chance to get things turned around quickly.

They have to because they have no other choice.

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