This latest loss to the Sacramento Kings, the third this season for the Golden State Warriors out of four meetings, doesn’t mean all that much. The NBA season is long, and the Warriors are still 4.5 games ahead of the ninth place team in the Western Conference with only nine games left to play.
The starting guards, who usually give the Warriors an advantage via long-distance shooting, both shot like Andris Biedrins in a 105-98 loss. If even one of those two comes close to their standard performance, the Warriors probably win — despite a pretty sleepy effort on defense for a team that had a day off between two games at home.
“Steph was not good. That’s the first time in a long time that’s been the case,” Mark Jackson said.
If Curry wasn’t good (and he hasn’t shot well in either of the last two games since hurting his hip and ankle), Thompson was wretched. If Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose can sleep well to the sound of gentle threes raining down, they’ll be comatose tonight after the silence of Thompson’s last shot: an airball that capped a 1-for-13 night.
It goes both ways, though. If tonight’s loss was simply one of those forgettable blips on the NBA schedule, the win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday doesn’t mean as much as it seemed to, either. The Warriors are good enough to beat anybody if they’re playing intelligently and frenetically at the same time. If they have neither going for them, well, you get what you’ve seen against the Kings this season.
For their part, the Warriors knew they had a letdown.
“Unfortunately we’re not good enough to show up and win ballgames. That’s not who we are,” Jackson said. “If you give the same energy and effort that we did against the Lakers, we win this ballgame. We did not.”
Jackson wasn’t the only one to recognize an obvious letdown game. Two nights after making the Lakers look old and tired, the Warriors looked young and overconfident.
“We can’t pick and choose. Lakers come into town, you see the focus in everybody’s eyes before the game. You see different and edgy. Sacramento comes into town, whole different day today. No excuse for that,” Andrew Bogut said. Bogut actually played pretty well — 12 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks — and he had more brutally honest things to say.
“It’s very disappointing. We have no excuse for it, one through twelve. Coaches do a great job of preparing us. Our fans are great, and we come out and lay an absolute egg,” Bogut said. “We need to remember this one. This is a loss that … there’s no excuse for it, this late in the season. No disrespect to Sacramento, but we’re playing for more than April 17. Kudos to them, they came in and kicked our ass.”
It was an off night from the moment the David Lee bobbleheads were distributed. I heard people say they looked like Wally Szczerbiak, Kyle Korver, even Brian Austin Green. But definitely not the guy who went 10-for-13 tonight and pulled off another 20/10 night (20 and 10 exactly), along with … 6 turnovers.
Then again, every game the Kings are in is strange these days, especially the ones in Northern California. Sacramento is still battling for their team, and after the game a group of a dozen or so Kings fans chanted “SAC-RA-MEN-TO” for about five minutes behind the visiting announcers table. In the middle of the fourth quarter, when the game looked like a loss and fans started heading for the exits, disconsolate Warriors fans chanted “SU-PER-SON-ICS.” It’s a rivalry that both exists and doesn’t, a battle waged mostly through snark instead of pure vitriol. That’s mostly because whenever one team is good, the other is terrible. But in a season where the Warriors should have dominated their I-80 not-quite-rivals, the Kings were consistently annoying to Jackson and his team.
“Just glad we don’t have to face them in a seven-game series right now,” the Warriors’ head coach said.