If the Warriors are going to win 50, this one needed to be automatic. The Warriors weren’t that efficient from a shooting standpoint in their first game back after a short vacation (for everyone besides Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes), but wins in Sacramento are never easy. So the fact that this game was never truly in doubt, despite some third quarter brilliance from Isaiah Thomas that made Bob Myers and Joe Lacob look like this …
… has to make the Warriors feel good a night before hosting the Rockets.
It was a 101-92 win for the Warriors, who get a few hours to rest before going up against a team they’ve only beaten once in their last six tries.
The Warriors didn’t have Andrew Bogut in this one, and the Kings didn’t have DeMarcus Cousins. But that was an almost-forgotten story after both teams consummated trades soon before this game took place. The Kings sent unhappy Marcus Thornton to the Nets for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans. The Warriors shipped two garbage-time guys — Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks — to the Lakers for Steve Blake.
From the start, Jordan Crawford looked either liberated by the lack of future point guard responsibilities or nervous about losing minutes, because he was in full Steezus-mode in the first half. Also looking great out of the gate: Klay Thompson, who looked intent on drawing contact and showing he can distribute. He had five assists and five made free-throws. That’s only happened three times in his career, the last time coming on Jan. 9, 2013 against Memphis.
“As long as I’m play-making, my scoring will come,” said Thompson, who after being interrogated by Ric Bucher about his five o’clock shadow gave the following reason for his stubble. “Laziness, I was on break for a couple days. I was over shaving. If we keep winning, who knows. I’ll shave it when I lose.”
Sacramento is a tougher opponent than most people realize. If the Warriors continue to play with the same sense of urgency and intelligence they displayed on Wednesday night, Thompson might not shave for several days. Earlier today we discussed how the Warriors need to commit fewer than 15 turnovers per game to win at a higher rate. They only turned the ball over seven times against the Kings, and Curry committed no turnovers at all.
That’s right, David. No turnovers. Lee committed one, but the rest of his game was superb — 23 and 11. He also played a huge role in two plays that kept the Kings at bay.
First, with just over two minutes remaining, Lee saw Andre Iguodala posting up Thomas. The Warriors tried posting Thomas a few too many times in this game, since very few Warriors can score after posting anyone up, even a guy who’s 5′ 10″. But Lee liked what he saw when Iguodala had position. He motioned for the ball to go to Iguodala, and it did within a second or two. Lee floated over to the left elbow, then waited while drifting toward the basket until his man (the perpetually frustrated Jason Thompson) doubled Iguodala, opening up an easy assist for Iguodala and a layup for Lee.
Travis Outlaw countered with a three to bring the Kings within seven, but Lee came through with the assist on a dunk for Draymond Green. A minute later, Iguodala (who had 13 points in this game and showed tonight that in order to shine offensively he needs to run, run, run) ended it with a three-point play.
Let’s get back to Draymond, though. This wasn’t exactly a bad game for Harrison Barnes, who made some nice passes in this game and hit an open three on a drive-and-kick from Stephen Curry. But Green needs all the minutes.
The Warriors played fantastic defense throughout, but they were absolutely killed on the boards. In comes Green, legs splayed like Dennis Rodman, collecting eight of the Warriors’ 35 rebounds in 27 minutes.
Golden State’s turnover total gets a lot of attention, but the Kings committed three times as many on Wednesday night. 21 turnovers for Sacramento, as the Warriors made 14 steals. Thompson and Barnes led the way with three thefts apiece, and Iguodala, Lee and Green had two each. The Warriors didn’t play small-ball offense, only making 3-of-19 from three-point range. But they played small-ball defense better than they have all season.