Warriors HC Kerr brushes off loss, focuses on Kuminga's 'best game'
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was unfazed by his side's narrow 113-116 road loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, instead choosing to focus on what he called Jonathan Kuminga's best game as a professional.
There were warning signs early that this was not going to be the Warriors' night as they quickly fell down 23-6 after eight minutes of action, and despite fighting back well, they were unable to overcome the brilliance of Luka Doncic.
The 23-year-old MVP favourite scored 41 points on 14-of-27 shooting with 12 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals – posting a game-high plus/minus of plus 22 in his 39 minutes.
That means in the nine minutes he was on the bench, the Mavericks were outscored by 19 points, and Kerr acknowledged after the game that there was nothing they could do about the Slovenian when he is playing like that.
"Luka is Luka, he is just a tremendous shot-creator and shot-maker, and we just couldn't get the ball to go down tonight," he said.
"I love the effort, and I told the guys we're in a really good spot. We have kind of rounded into form, our bench has an identity, and we very easily could've won that game – but the ball has to go in the hoop, and sometimes it doesn't.
"Just an off night, you could see right away we fell down 23-6. We had plenty of good looks, it's just part of the season. This happens, no big deal."
A big part of the Warriors' fightback was Kuminga's play when both teams had their second-units on the floor, with the former lottery pick hitting six-of-eight from the field for 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in his 26 minutes.
"It was the best game I've ever seen 'JK' play," he said. "Everything he did contributed towards making an impact on winning.
"His defense on Luka was fantastic, he was disciplined, he stayed down, he challenged shots, and I think he had a couple blocks.
"He stayed patient offensively, he took the shots that were there, he knocked down a big three. JK has been fantastic, he's really coming into his own and that's exciting.
"It's exciting, because it's not easy. It's not easy for him to be thrown into a high-pressure environment, and to have to be counted on to win.
"A lot of guys, a lot of his colleagues, guys who were drafted near him are being given 30 minutes every night and there's not nearly as much pressure to win, because they're not on championship teams.
"He's handled everything really well, I think the way he is playing is a direct reflection of his attitude and approach these last few weeks."
Kuminga's sophomore season has got off to a rocky start, with the 20-year-old's minutes, points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage and three-point percentage all lower than his marks as a rookie.
The seventh overall pick from the 2021 NBA Draft is beginning to figure it out, now posting back-to-back games with at least 20 minutes played while shooting over 60 per cent from the floor, and his status as the Warriors' most athletic wing gives him the upside to be a factor as they attempt to defend their title.