DeMarcus Cousins

Warriors rout Kings, get contributions from two unlikely sources in Lee’s return

Festus Ezeli Golden State Warriors

The Kings want to be the Warriors so bad, it’s just a matter of time before Vivek Ranadive asks Grant Napear to start going by “Fitz.” The Kings want to be the Warriors so bad, it’s just a matter of time before Sacramento hires some diminutive dunkers (“The Flying K’s”) to bounce off trampolines between quarters.

The Kings want to be the Warriors so bad, and on Monday night we saw why, as Golden State jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 128-108 win. The Kings looked like DeMarcus Cousins and a bunch of guys, while the Warriors looked really deep for a team without its starting center.

Maybe that was to be expected on the night when David Lee returned from his 21-game absence, and he played fairly well as the first guy off the bench. His shot looked a little rusty (3-for-9), but six points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes is just fine for a guy who’s playing himself back into shape. He even blocked a shot! That one definitely deserved a DVR rewind and a second look. Yep, it was him.

What Lee didn’t do was collect an assist on a night when the Warriors dished out 36 dimes, and that was in stark contrast to one player in particular, at least early on.

Draymond Green isn’t letting go of Lee’s old job (starting power forward), but he was ridiculously unselfish in this game. The Warriors have become League Pass darlings, in large part because they move the ball as often and as well as any squad in the NBA. Green appeared to be on a mission: how many times can I make a pass from inside the key to a wide open teammate standing around the three-point arc? He only ended up with four assists, but his first — on a three from Harrison Barnes — set the tone.

Warriors boogie inside against Cousins and the Kings

The Warriors had their way with the Kings (duh), but not because they shot amazingly well from outside. Golden State went 9-for-25 on threes, a respectable 36%, but they won because they outscored the Kings 66-46 in the paint.

Festus Ezeli scored a career-high 15 points in just 18 minutes, making 7-of-11 shots and scoring in a variety of ways (he did his damage on more than just dunks and put-backs). Cousins put up a pretty 22-8-6 line, but the Warriors went through this game undeterred by Sacramento’s front line. Cousins isn’t exactly known as a defensive force, but he’s one of the more imposing figures in the NBA from a size and talent perspective, and Ezeli’s night against a player of this magnitude had to boost his confidence. That’s good news for the Warriors, since they’ll be without Andrew Bogut for quite a while.

More good news …

Other than Bogut’s knee situation, it’s hard to convince the populace that there are many Warriors-related issues worth fretting over. Hey, they’re 23-3 and the season is crazy-long. Even the turnovers thing kind of fizzled away during the winning streak. But the backup shooting guard position is wiiiiide open, and it doesn’t look like Brandon Rush or Leandro Barbosa are going to fill that void anytime soon.

Enter Justin Holiday, a long-limbed athlete who showed off a pretty nice three-point stroke while setting a new personal best with 18 points. Defense was never the worry with Holliday, but the Warriors are looking for balance this year. Most of Holiday’s points came in garbage time, but if he can hit open shots, keep the ball moving and avoid silly turnovers, his playing time will increase.

Dub Steps

— We got this far without mentioning Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, which is probably a record. Thompson scored 25 points in 28 minutes and looked like a varsity kid playing during open gym against a bunch of freshmen. Curry had 12 points and 11 assists while going 1-for-5 on threes, continuing a recent trend of alternating good and bad shooting nights from distance.

— I didn’t get a chance to write up anything on that wildly entertaining win on Thursday. It was too bad when Kevin Durant got hurt, but it sure was fun to see Curry (and Oracle) wild out on a national stage.

— Derrick Williams looks awful, in every way. I started thinking about Michael Beasley while watching him meander through this game, and not just because they were both chosen second overall.

— The Warriors are a good three-point shooting team. They’re eighth in the NBA in threes made, sixth in three-point percentage (37.2%). But they’ve also made 52.7% of their two-point field goal attempts, good for second in the league.

— Just to highlight why they’ve been so good, they’re also fourth in opponents’ three-point percentage (30.8%) and first in defending the two (45.1%).

— Marreese Speights scored 12 points on three field goal attempts in 13 minutes.

— Shaun Livingston played more than any other Warrior, and he was only on the court for 28 minutes and 21 seconds. It was a best-case scenario kind of night for Golden State, as Sacramento left with nothing more than daydreams about signing Green away (he’s a restricted free agent — gulp) from the Warriors after this season.

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