Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga shine in Warriors' win over the Knicks

NEW YORK — Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors' two most recent lottery picks, selected in the same 2021 NBA Draft, combined for a series-defining run in one of the franchise's best wins during this turbulent season that is turning back in a positive direction.

The Warriors took a 14-0 lead in no time. The New York Knicks were never able to turn the game completely in his direction. But they threatened at various pivotal points and the engaged crowd responded to the biggest possession of the night, rising when they sensed the Knicks were on the run.

One of those moments came with less than six minutes left in the game. The Knicks had cut it to five. The crowd was into it. Moses Modi found himself guarding Alec Burkes after the substitution. Burks dribbled left to stop, pumped and jumped from the right elbow, a midfielder who rarely gets blocked.

Moody stuck to it, didn't bite on the pump, then raised his long left arm in the air to block Burks' jump so well that it rose about 3 feet into his lap. Then he hit it in front of Jonathan Kuminga, a transitional dynamo. Kuminga sprinted ahead of two Knicks and beat Jalen Brunson on third down, finishing with a layup and -1 to put the Warriors up seven.

After the Warriors finished off the Knicks 110-99, Steve Kerr entered the locker room and immediately picked off Moody, according to Steph Curry. Tell the team how important Moody's one-on-one defense on Brunson was to tonight's outcome. Kerr then told the media the same thing 15 minutes later, redirecting a general question about the team's overall performance to the individual.

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“Moses did a great job of making it as difficult as possible without getting any dirt,” Kerr said. “Forcing him to make tough shots. This was the key.

Moody said he learned of the mission at the team's morning meeting at their hotel in Manhattan. The Warriors wanted to highlight Brunson. Moody is 6-foot-5 and has a 7-foot wingspan. Faster goalkeepers gave him trouble, passing him due to slow lateral movement. But Bronson succeeds with strength and skill. Modi is big, strong, patient and cunning.

“You don't want to have a smaller defender than Brunson because he's so strong and can bully you in the paint,” Kerr said.

“I feel like my length limits the mid-range game,” Moody said. “Being able to hit those mid-range shots with my body weight somewhere else — my weight in one place and my arms in another.”

Here are some of the properties where Moody gave Bronson some trouble, annoying him and making a mistake.

Moody was only given the opportunity because Andrew Wiggins is away from the team dealing with a personal matter. Wiggins likely would have gotten Brunson's job had he been around, and Moody would presumably have stayed out of the crowded rotation.

But he came on in the interim in Wiggins' absence and backed up a strong offensive game in Washington, D.C., with the most impactful defensive game of his young career. Until Wiggins returns — and they have said publicly and privately they expect him to return — Moody has a chance to continue to push for regular playing time.

But he performed well in both small and big roles (even in the playoffs) in several other moments during his first three seasons only to see playing time slip away. He's been regularly buried behind Wiggins, Klay Thompson, Brandin Podzemski, Chris Paul, Kuminga and Gary Payton II this season.

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“It's real life,” Moody said. “Different things happen. You have to be able to keep your head up and control your emotions. All of my friends are in that place where they're going to drop out of college and try to figure out life. Everyone goes through different adversities. Who am I to think I should have an easy path to everything I want?” ?It's just kind of the way things go.

Moody's contribution against the Knicks was of the quieter, more subtle kind. He finished the game with a career-high plus-23.

Kuminga's night was even louder. He had 25 points on 12-of-19 shooting, giving him 46 points on 22-of-32 shooting over the past two games, and is rejuvenating after a bit of a lull. Only one of those 32 shots was a 3 attempt. Almost all of it came at the rim and occasionally from the short mid-range.

“He has to live in the paint,” Kerr said. “He has done a great job the last six weeks elevating his game, penetrating attacking the rim and staying focused on scoring in the paint.”

Kuminga still poised to take a 3. He was left wide open for a corner 3 with two minutes left, Curry kicked it to him, and he took it. But he mostly decided to exclude them from his diet to attack almost exclusively open spaces when he got them.

“There will be moments when I'll get a 3,” Kuminga said. “Pressing the rim every time, people will miss me or score easily. That gives us energy. If we need 3s, we have different shooters (doing that). But obviously there has to be someone else doing something different than shooting 3s.” .

It was the Warriors' seventh straight win. They are 10-2 in their last 12 games and 31-27 overall, a four-game season high over .500. They are two games away from the eighth seed, two and a half games away from seventh and three games away from sixth.

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Confidence within the locker room is growing. This is normal during a winning streak. But how they win these games is also important. The younger class on the roster continues to move up when given the opportunity.

“That’s not lost on me,” Kerr said. “We are interested in winning every game but also trying to fortify our future as a franchise.”

“They show it,” Carey said. “We needed players to step up and be consistent, and that's what they're doing. We've got to keep putting these performances together. It doesn't mean you're going to win every game, but the identity. And that's what I always say: Are we forming an identity? I think we are.”

(Photo: Mike Staub/Getty Images)

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