Glenn Robinson III

Luka Doncic had more points, rebounds and assists than Warriors in first quarter

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Luka Doncic keeps doing amazing things.

But he really outdid himself in opening quarter of the Mavericks win over the Warriors last night. The box score after the first quarter:

  • Points: Doncic 22, Warriors 16
  • Rebounds: Doncic 5, Warriors 4
  • Assists: Doncic 5, Warriors 4

Outscoring Golden State? OK. Getting more assists? OK. Doing both? That’s just incredible. Doncic was in total control offensively.

The 6-foot-7 wing out-rebounding the Warriors is especially astounding. Though I suppose if 6-foot Allen Iverson out-rebounded an entire team for a quarter, it’s not that crazy Doncic did, too.

To be fair, this achievement deserves a little context. Warriors who played in the first quarter:

Watch James Harden score 36 points, lead Rockets in rout Warriors 129-112

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HOUSTON — James Harden had 36 points and 13 assists and the Houston Rockets routed Golden State 129-112 on Wednesday night, sending the short-handed Warriors to their sixth loss in eight games this season.

Harden again appeared to be moving past his early shooting woes, going 6 of 16 from 3-point range. Since going 17 of 79 on 3s in his first six games, Harden has made 13 of 32 the last two.

Russell Westbrook had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. P.J. Tucker had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Clint Capela added 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Austin Rivers was 4 for 4 from 3 with 12 points.

Alec Burks led Golden State with 28 points. Eric Paschall had 19 points, and Glenn Robinson III added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Already reeling from injuries to Splash Brothers Stephen Curry (broken hand) and Klay Thompson (knee surgery) and the loss of Kevin Durant, the Warriors were without D'Angelo Russell (sprained right ankle) and Draymond Green (torn ligament in left index finger) for a third straight game. Russell, who sat on the Golden State bench, could return Friday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Houston and Golden State entered the game ranked 29th and 28th in the league in points allowed, giving up an average of 123.1 and 120.4 points per game, respectively. Neither team had played a game so far this season where they held their opponent below triple digits.

Both teams struggled with their shooting for spurts of the first half, but late in the second quarter, Harden drilled a deep 3-pointer where he was also fouled. That shot fired up both Harden and the Toyota Center crowd, including rapper Travis Scott, who was sitting courtside.

Houston led 63-52 at the half, thanks in large part to Harden’s 24 first-half points, but also Golden State’s 38.8% shooting from the field.

There were seven lead changes in the first half before Houston started to pull away.

To open up the second half, the Rockets held the Warriors to just three field goals in the first seven minutes of the third quarter and built a lead as large as 23 points. They entered the fourth quarter leading 98-83.

Cavaliers reportedly snap up Alfonzo McKinnie off waivers

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Going into training camp, Alfonzo McKinnie was expected to be the starting small forward for the Warriors this season.

However, injuries along the front line — Willie Cauley-Stein is out for weeks still, plus Kevon Looney and rookie Alen Smailagic are banged up — and some strong play from Marquise Chriss meant he was going to make the Warriors roster. With the team being hard capped after signing D'Angelo Russell this summer, the Warriors had no choice but to cut McKinnie.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have snapped him up off waivers.

This is a good move by the Cavaliers, a low-risk pickup — McKinnie is on a minimum contract — that could get them a 3&D wing on a young team. He played in 72 games for the Warriors last regular season plus got playoff minutes, and shot 35.6 percent from three. He’s long and athletic and a player both the Raptors and Warriors liked but had to move on from because of other roster situations.

For the Warriors, they will have Glenn Robinson III starting at the three with Alec Burks behind him. They could have really used McKennie.

Report: Warriors waiving Alfonzo McKinnie to keep Marquese Chriss

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The Warriors got D'Angelo Russell.

Now, they’re paying the price.

Russell is a young All-Star locked in the next four years, but acquiring him in a sign-and-trade hard-capped Golden State this season. Pressed against that line, the Warriors face tough decisions, including:

Should they keep unguaranteed Marquese Chriss (who had a vocal backing) or unguaranteed Alfonzo McKinnie (who was likely headed toward a rotation role)?

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The Warriors had enough roster spots for both players. They just couldn’t afford both under the hard cap.

This puts a significant dent in Golden State’s depth at small forward. Glenn Robinson III will likely start after overtaking McKinnie, who entered the preseason as favorite to land that job. The backup options are grim. Alec Burks? He’s undersized, frequently injured and currently banged up. Jordan Poole? He’s even smaller and just a rookie.

But the Warriors also needed another big with Kevon Looney and Willie-Cauley Stein hurt. That’s where Chriss steps in.

The No. 8 pick just three years ago, Chriss struggled with the Suns, Rockets and Cavaliers. But he has looked better in Golden State and is just 22. He has the raw tools to develop into a helpful player.

With a minimum salary, McKinnie could get claimed on waivers by anyone. Many teams could use him – ironically, perhaps none more than the Warriors.

They might view themselves as a championship contender. They have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. If Klay Thompson gets healthy by the playoffs, that’s an excellent trio. Russell could add value on the court or via trade.

But the hard cap and resulting depth problems are real a issue.

Until they show otherwise, it’s too early to write off the Golden State Warriors

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This story is part of our NBCSports.com’s 2019-20 NBA season preview coverage. Every day between now and when the season opens Oct. 22 we will have at least one story focused on the upcoming season and the biggest questions heading into it. In addition, there will be podcasts, video and more. Come back every day and get ready for a wide-open NBA season.

The Golden State Warriors will be without Klay Thompson to start the 2019-20 NBA season. They will also be without Kevin Durant in perpetuity. Which will be a bigger issue is cause for much debate.

Indeed, the Warriors won a record 73 regular season games before Durant arrived in 2016. Golden State was a budding dynasty before Durant arrived, and was thought to be a lock for the best team of all-time once he did.

Now things have changed.

Thompson, who tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, will not be with the team until 2020. He’s taking it slow, and he knows how important that is for his longevity. Meanwhile, there was some debate about Golden State’s fate without Thompson and without Durant. Will they be able to survive with just Curry? What is the athletic status of Draymond Green? And can a stable of below replacement-level players keep the Warriors in the championship hunt in 2020?

For starters, this team has proven time and time again they are not to be trifled with. Organizationally, the Warriors are the class of the league. Much like the San Antonio Spurs, it’s only smart to write them off once they actually miss the playoffs. We’ve been waiting for that from the Spurs since 1997; the Warriors since 2012.

And so here we are, with many hoping that Golden State’s maladies will prove fruitful for their teams in the Western Conference. That, dear reader, may very well be wise. While the road to the Finals may not be settled thanks to the Warriors’ injuries, the road to the playoffs looks much different.

Golden State will win less games this year than perhaps they ever have under Steve Kerr’s guidance. Westgate’s current win total for Golden State is set at 48.5. That would have been good enough to battle for the 8th seed out West last season. This year, without a singularly dominant team, it’s more reasonable for wins to be spread around. It’s also possible that the bottom of the playoff bracket in the Western Conference dips a bit, too.

So when we talk about writing off the Warriors, we have to talk about what “writing off” really means. The NBA is a league where narratives and motivation matters. The Warriors, banged up as they are, are a team that wants to prove that they can still win the way they did before, and without Durant.

Green will be leading that charge, but there will also be a strong push from Curry. Offensively, D’Angelo Russell should slot right into what they need. You should still expect to see those third quarter offensive onslaughts in 2019-20.

The only problem is that Golden State is working with a rotation that is also perhaps thinner than it’s ever been. The Warriors will be relying on guys like Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Alfonzo McKinnie, and Glenn Robinson III.

That presents a real problem defensively, where the Warriors have shined. Yes, they returned players like Kevon Looney, and it’s really a system that works off of what green brings to the table. But there is an asymptote, we think, that Golden State will reach when it comes to plugging in just any old player. The Warriors won’t be as dominant on defense this season, and so scores may not be so disperate.

The system in San Francisco works. The culture works. And, let’s be honest, the veteran buyout market works. The talent on the Golden State Warriors is still largely made up of Hall of Famers. Those Hall of Famers are in their primes, and until we see them falter — or until some horror ethic injury befalls them — it’s unreasonable to write them off entirely.

Health, by the way, is a funny thing. We don’t know when this Golden State roster will have it. It’s almost guaranteed that Green will need to come in to the season in October in the kind of shape he left it in June. He can’t drag himself up and down the floor 25 pounds overweight the way he did all last year.

But if the Warriors have a modicum of good luck when it comes to the training room, they should be able to keep their heads above water. The rest of the NBA out West still has a lot of question marks. There are no guarantees for teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, or Utah Jazz. That works to the Warriors’ advantage in the absence of both Thompson and Durant.

For now, in September, it’s much too early to write off Golden State. They may not be who they were in the past, but until they show us otherwise, they’re still the Warriors.