Third-year forward falls victim to Golden State Warriors' playoff urgency

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors
Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

It was built as a playoff-like matchup and that's exactly how the Golden State Warriors approached it in a 128-121 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Arena on Saturday night.

With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green back in the lineup, the Warriors were once again at full strength to conclude a four-game road-trip. Having regularly gone 10-11, sometimes even 12 deep in his rotation this season, Steve Kerr's urgency was apparent from the first-half.

Moses Moody was again the major victim of Steve Kerr's decision to shorten the Golden State Warriors' rotation on Saturday night

After at least 19 minutes of playing time in eight of the last nine games, Moses Moody was again out of the Warrior rotation for the marquee matchup. If there was ever a signal that this is now a do-or-die time for Golden State, this was it.

It was another brutal decision on Moody, not for the first time this season or in his career. While the 21-year-old has been impactful over the past couple of weeks, he ultimately paid the price for an inability to knock down his perimeter shots across recent games.

Moody's made just two of 19 three-point attempts in the last six games, reducing his season shooting to less than 33% from beyond the arc. For someone who projects as a three-and-D wing, that's not a mark nor Moody or Kerr would be overly happy with.

Brandin Podziemski, Jonathan Kuminga
Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Moody wasn't the only one to to see his minutes slashed, with Gary Payton II limited to less than seven minutes after 15 in each of the last two. It left Kerr running with eight core players, providing a sign of what a playoff rotation would look like should the Warriors make it.

There was no minutes restriction for Curry who played nearly 34 minutes and led the way with 31 points after a slow start. Coming off a one-game absence of his own, Draymond Green's 34 minutes were the most of any non-overtime game he's played this season.

Brandin Podziemski played 35 minutes, Jonathan Kuminga 31 and Andrew Wiggins 30, while Klay Thompson had 26 points in just under 30 minutes off the bench. Trayce Jackson-Davis also played more than 21 as he continues a more assertive role with Kevon Looney and Dario Saric once again receiving DNP's.

Kerr got the result he was after, with the seven-point win putting them equal with the Lakers for the Western Conference's ninth-seed. Regardless of whether it's harsh on Moody, Payton or anyone else, it appears this is the eight players who will have the fate of the Warriors' season in their hands.