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Player grades: Warriors vs. Rockets

Well, at long last the losing streak is over. It took two weeks, but the Golden State Warriors finally won a game again ... just their second home victory of the year. The Dubs faced an extremely game Houston Rockets squad and emerged with a 121-116 win, though in fairness it wasn’t quite as close as the score would suggest.

It’s time to grade the players. As always, grades are based on my expectations for each player, with a “B” grade representing the average performance for that player.

Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. League-average TS was 57.5% entering Monday’s games.

Kevon Looney

22 minutes, 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 fouls, 2-for-4 shooting, 3-for-4 free throws, 60.8% TS, +2

A quietly solid game for Looney. Dario Šarić has been so good this year that it’s made it so Looney can slide into an at-times smaller role, where Steve Kerr can pick and choose his spots for the trusty center. And as a result, Looney just always seems to be impacting the game when he’s on the court.

The offense doesn’t come in huge numbers, but it’s pretty darn good. The timing of the screens, the passing out of rolls, and the improved ability to bully defenders at the rim all lead to Looney being a damn solid player on both ends of the court.

Grade: B+

Andrew Wiggins

30 minutes, 12 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 fouls, 3-for-10 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 51.0% TS, -3

First, an apology to Wiggins. I’ve done the player grades for almost every game this season, and of course one of the few ones I miss is Saturday’s, when he exploded for 31 points. Please enjoy a belated high grade, Wiggins.

Now, onto this game. There was a lot to like from Wiggs. He tied his season-high in rebounds, and had easily his best free throw shooting game of the year. He made multiple threes, which he hadn’t done all year prior to Saturday ... and I’m excited enough by a potential return to form from his shot that I’m willing to overlook that one of his threes was accidentally banked in. He was aggressive at the rim, even though he shot just 1-for-7 inside the arc.

I’m not sure what to make of his defense. It kind of floated between good, great, and bad depending on the possession.

Grade: B-

Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds, tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.

Chris Paul

34 minutes, 15 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 4-for-7 shooting, 3-for-5 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 85.6% TS, +12

This was a vintage CP3 performance. Efficient scoring as he picked his spots. An offense firing on all cylinders as he moved the ball around with precision, rarely ever making a bad decision. An intense competitive drive that showed up defensively and on hustle plays.

It also resulted in what the Warriors had in mind when they acquired him, and what was on display before the losing streak: an ability to win the non-Steph minutes. Even though CP3 didn’t come off the bench, he was the maestro of the second unit, with Golden State outscoring Houston by 12 points when he was on the court.

As a result, the Warriors were outscored when Curry was on the court, but still won. It was the third time this year that they’ve done that, which matches last year’s season-long total.

A great game.

Grade: A+

Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists, best plus/minus on the team.

Steph Curry

35 minutes, 32 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, 2 fouls, 8-for-14 shooting, 5-for-9 threes, 11-for-12 free throws, 83.0% TS, -3

It wasn’t the most statistically impressive game that Curry’s had, though the efficiency was absolutely absurd. But it still felt like a massive game, if for no other reason that that he continued to put the team on his back, so much so that Kerr played him for the entire fourth quarter out of desperation to seal the deal.

It was that kind of game. The Warriors needed Steph and he delivered, and for that he gets a good grade, even with the poor assist and turnover numbers.

Grade: A

Post-game bonus: Led the team in points, tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.

Klay Thompson

31 minutes, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 7-for-16 shooting, 5-for-11 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 60.8% TS, -3

Like Wiggins on Saturday, Klay finally broke the 20-point curse and eclipsed the magical mark. He did most of it in the first quarter, when he knocked in a trio of triples and followed it up with a three-point play, culminating in a 12-point quarter that helped keep Golden State in it before the rest of the offense started to click.

It was a sight for sore eyes, and it made me very happy.

Thompson didn’t do too much after that, but he certainly didn’t hurt the Warriors, either. It was a reminder as to how important his shooting and gravity are, and that played to Golden State’s advantage.

Welcome back, Klay. More on the way for you and Wiggs, I’m sure!

Grade: A-

Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.

Dario Šarić

26 minutes, 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 5-for-10 shooting, 3-for-7 threes, 5-for-6 free throws, 71.2% TS, +5

I’m not sure where Šarić ranks on the early season Sixth Man of the Year ladder but it’s got to be near the top. I’d say he’s been a luxury for the Warriors this year, but I think a necessity is more accurate. His skillset and chemistry with Paul make him the secret to the bench units, and he’s shocking Warriors fans with how good he is rebounding and defending (in certain matchups).

Simply put, he’s been one of the team’s best players this year.

Grade: A

Jonathan Kuminga

18 minutes, 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 3-for-7 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 0-for-2 free throws, 44.4% TS, +8

I’m almost willing to overlook everything else and just give JK an A+ for his spectacular transition dunk.

Apart from that play, it was a mixed bag for Kuminga. He once again struggled with efficiency, though I thought he did a great job getting high-percentage shots with his athleticism. The rest of the box score is pretty mediocre, but I really liked the defense he played.

I feel like he played really well, but the lack of rebounds, the abundance of fouls, and the poor efficiency are stopping me from giving him a good grade.

Grade: B

Trayce Jackson-Davis

4 minutes, 0 points, +1

TJD got a little bit of run to give the Dubs a different look against Houston’s frontcourt. He didn’t really do anything notable, for better and for worse.

Grade: Incomplete

Moses Moody

22 minutes, 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 fouls, 3-for-7 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 50.0% TS, +3

Just as it looked like Moody might be losing a grip on his rotation spot, he’s come roaring back. The stats don’t really do him justice in this one. He entered with Šarić before the halfway mark of the first quarter, and the energy of the game completely changed.

His defense has gotten so much better, and he’s starting to have gravity as a floor-spacer. It wasn’t his most efficient game, but I was really impressed watching him.

Grade: B+

Brandin Podziemski

18 minutes, 3 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 75.0% TS, +3

First off, I just love watching Podz play. What a treat.

Second off, a 20-year old rookie guard playing 18 minutes without a turnover is a very rare sight. But that’s the type of composure and sound decision-making that Podziemski has been playing with.

Third off, this dude’s rebounding is outrageous!

When Podziemski was drafted, I think a lot of people thought he would only impact the games if he was scoring, but he’s quickly proven that to not be the case. He makes the Warriors play better, even if he’s not shooting much.

Grade: A

Monday’s DNPs: Cory Joseph, Gui Santos

Monday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Draymond Green, Gary Payton II, Lester Quiñones, Jerome Robinson

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