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Former KU wing Andrew Wiggins comes up big in Finals Game 4


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Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins (22) passes the ball against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Friday, June 10, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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Andrew Wiggins wasn’t surprised Golden State teammate/NBA superstar Steph Curry was able to hit seven threes and score 43 points while playing on a sore left foot in the Warriors’ 107-97 road victory over Boston on Friday night in Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

“To be honest, as soon as he steps on the court, I just think Steph’s going to be Steph, regardless of who we are playing or how he’s feeling. I feel like if he steps on the court, he’s ready. He’s going to go out there and dominate like he did tonight,” Wiggins, a 27-year-old, eighth-year pro out of the University of Kansas, said after the Warriors evened the series 2-2 heading into Monday’s Game 5 in San Francisco.

The 34-year-old Curry hit 14 of 26 shots and also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished four assists.

“All you can do is watch. When Steph has the ball sometimes, you just watch and see what he does,” Wiggins told reporters in the interview room after the game played at TD Garden in Boston.

Wiggins did more than play the role of spectator.

The 6-foot-7, 200-pound Toronto native scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds in 43 minutes. His old career high in boards was 11 three times.

The last Warriors player to score at least 17 points and secure 16 boards in an NBA Finals game was Nate Thurmond in 1967.

Yes, 55 years ago, Thurmond had 24 points and 31 rebounds in Game 1 and 17 points and 25 boards in Game 3 against Philadelphia.

Wiggins, who had 13 defensive rebounds, was asked after the game in the interview room what has “unlocked” his ability to crash the boards.

He’s averaging over seven rebounds a game in the 2022 playoffs.

“I want to win. I know rebounding is a big part of that. I just want to win. Sometimes we play small (lineup). So I just try to go in there and rebound, help the team out,” said Wiggins who had a pair of hoops off of offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.

Wiggins — he also is emerging as the team’s defensive stopper — was credited for helping hold Boston sensation Jayson Tatum to 23 points on 8-of-23 shooting.

Tatum, who had 11 rebounds and six assists, cashed just one basket while playing the entire fourth quarter.

“Wiggs was fantastic,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “To go against Boston, you’ve got to deal with Tatum and Brown (Jaylen, 21 points), and they are just powerful, skilled players. Great size. They are coming downhill at you constantly, so we had to have Wiggs out there. I thought he was great defensively. Obviously 16 rebounds, career-high, and plus-20 on the night. So we needed every bit of Wiggs contributions,” Kerr added.

The Warriors on Friday outscored Boston 15-0 in crunch time, defined as the the final five minutes of a game within five points or less. According to SI.com, it was the highest point differential in crunch time of an NBA Finals game in the last 25 seasons.

“We were helping each other out, playing together, playing aggressively on the defensive side, and most importantly just closing out. (They) didn’t get second-chance points. So that was big,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins said several Warriors players are ready to contribute in Game Five, especially if Curry’s foot is ailing. Wing Klay Thompson chipped in 18 points on Friday night.

“We’ve all just got to do our part,” Wiggins told the media. “We have a lot of guys that can go in the game and affect the game in different ways, and right now, everything is needed. Whatever anybody has to give, you don’t want to look back a couple weeks from now and be like, ‘I should have done that, I should have done that.’ You’ve got to leave it all on the floor.”

Wiggins averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 boards in his one season at KU (2013-14). He was the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

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Gary Bedore covers all aspects of Kansas basketball for The Star — the current team as well as former players and coaches and recruiting. He attended KU and was born and raised in Chicago, as well as Lisle, Ill.





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