The woefully short-handed Golden State Warriors were routed by the surging New York Knicks on Tuesday, falling 132-94 at Madison Square Garden despite a spirited first half. Here are three key reactions from the defending champions’ loss on the first leg of a difficult back-to-back in the Tri-State Area.

Losing numbers games

The Warriors dressed just 11 players on Tuesday, four members of their nightly rotation out due to injury and illness. They were also playing the fifth of a six-game road trip, on the first leg of a tough back-to-back against the league’s two hottest teams.

Those realities alone would’ve made a win extremely tough to come by at Madison Square Garden. And despite Golden State’s best early efforts, losing so many pivotal games within the game to the Knicks made getting that long-shot victory basically impossible.

New York entered this game as the league’s third-worst three-point shooting team, but drained 17 triples on Tuesday, five more than the Warriors. The Knicks grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, allowing just four. They outscored Golden State by 13 points at the free throw line, committed eight fewer turnovers and attempted a whopping 13 more shots from the field.

The Warriors were at a major disadvantage against New York—now winners of a league-high eight straight—before this game tipped off. Getting dominated in areas the Knicks thrive and out-classed in areas they struggle basically guaranteed Golden State would get blown out, even if its overall performance— in the first half, at least—was one of which Steve Kerr and the coaching staff could be proud.

Ty Jerome, in his bag

Kerr has taken a lot of flak this season for his clear allegiance to Jerome, who earned one of the Dubs’ two-way spots after an impressive training camp. The former Virginia star paid off his coach’s confidence in a big way against the Knicks, though, emerging as by far Golden State’s most impactful playmaker behind Jordan Poole with Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Donte DiVincenzo sidelined.

Jerome isn’t fast. He’s not especially quick. He’s definitely not strong, and his solid height for a combo guard at 6’5 is somewhat nullified by a negative wingspan. He did everything possible to curb the effects of those physical deficiencies on Tuesday, constantly seeking small advantages as an on-ball operator with subtle fakes, extra dribbles and nuanced timing to crease the paint and bend New York’s defense.

Here’s a perfect example of that approach, with Jerome chopping his steps around a Kevon Looney hand-off, getting Jalen Brunson on his back then up-faking before finding an open Draymond Green in the corner.

Jerome’s manner of effectiveness on-ball wasn’t always that complicated, either.

But being a table-setter alone wasn’t enough with Golden State so depleted. Poole was in his bag as a scorer at Madison Square Garden, too, hitting multiple tough shots—even in desperation with the shot clock winding down.

Jerome won’t have a regular role with the Warriors when they’re at full-strength. Even if they’re down a couple rotation guards in the postseason, there’s a chance Kerr would leave Jerome on the bench because he’d be a flashing red target defensively for opposing superstars.

A heady, poised and confident ball handler like Jerome will always have a deep bench role in the league, though, as long as he can keep defenses somewhat honest from deep. This wasn’t the first game he’s helped Golden State weather the offensive storm of multiple perimeter absences, and it won’t be the last.

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James Wiseman is still a work in progress

Poole was hot early, keeping the Warriors in reach with the eye-popping three-level shot-making that propelled him to a career-high 43 points against the Toronto Raptors. But he cooled down eventually, and Jerome is ill-equipped to be any team’s second scoring and playmaking option. Klay Thompson certainly wasn’t up to that task, struggling from the opening tip en route to five rough turnovers and multiple ugly defensive breakdowns.

Jonathan Kuminga had his moments as a penetrator, creating offense for himself and his teammates, but was still relatively quiet. The same goes for Moses Moody, notably passive offensively apart from hitting half of his six three-point attempts, all off the catch. Green, Looney and Anthony Lamb don’t have the necessary skill to scale up offensively with so much firepower sidelined, and showed it while tangling with a surging New York defense.

Whether playing early rotation minutes with JaMychal Green unavailable or mopping up garbage time in the fourth quarter, though, James Wiseman’s performance against the Knicks didn’t exactly inspire confidence. He flashed his length and vertical pop on a couple basic help blocks, but otherwise looked largely unprepared for the physicality and subtleties of NBA basketball, at times getting exploited on both sides of the ball.

The lowest point of Wiseman’s night couldn’t have been much worse.

A few possessions later, the 21-year-old let Isaiah Hartenstein’s light shove displace him from the paint, yielding an uncontested offensive rebound and dunk.

Thompson being so easily fooled by a fake Pistol action put Wiseman in a tough spot on the defensive possession below. Regardless, a seven-footer with long arms and explosive athleticism needs to do better than this while Jalen Brunson bears down on him at the rim.

What did Wiseman’s late jump accomplish here?

Even when Wiseman did his job well enough, he sometimes didn’t finish the play.

Securing the ball in traffic has been a problem for him since he entered the league. After forcing RJ Barrett into a tough floater in pick-and-roll defense here, even offering a somewhat impactful contest, Wiseman’s hands failed him.

Wiseman also couldn’t corral a couple slick bounce passes from Poole and Thompson. He clanked a wing triple late in the first quarter with way too much time left on both the game and shot clock. He was out-muscled for several additional offensive rebounds. His debilitating penchant for avoiding contact was manifested in a missed fadeaway jumper over Hartenstein after Kuminga found him in the dunker spot.

There’s no sugarcoating it: Wiseman’s play on both ends of the floor on Tuesday was disappointing. At least he’s likely to get another chance to prove himself against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, right?