It’s not altogether shocking to see the Warriors lose the second of a back-to-back on the heels of a long road trip, even against the
Virginia Beach Seattle Anaheim Las Vegas Sacramento Kings. But the way they lost showed that playing defense in previous games and talking about defense all the time doesn’t build up defensive anytime minutes that can be used at a later date for free.
Defense takes effort more than anything else. The Warriors know that, and allowing 131 points to the Kings is an embarrassment. Don’t be fooled, just because the Kings are undisciplined, employ several gunners and are coached by Keith Smart doesn’t mean they score this many points on the regular. This was only the seventh time Sacramento has broken 100 points this year. They came into this game averaging 94.4 points per game, 22nd in the NBA. Their offense is better at home (96.5 ppg), as one would expect. But they aren’t this good.
Lots of talk about the referees, and this David Lee quote:
After one of the many scrums with Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins that resulted in a Warriors foul Wednesday night, David Lee had finally had enough.
He yelled at any of the three officials who would even halfway listen, “Cousins gets to do whatever he wants. Is that it? Is that it?”
Sorry, if this team is truly different — tough defense, more confidence, no excuses — they can’t fall back on expectations of consistently fair officiating. That’s something else they’ll need to push through, like injuries and back-to-backs and long road trips.
The Kings actually played hard, almost as if they’re trying to accelerate a Northern California rivalry that never truly existed at the last possible minute. But that’s no excuse for the Warriors allowing 30+ points in every quarter. That’s terrible defense, sustained over 48 minutes against a bad team they already lost to in the fourth game of this young season. Aaron Brooks’ previous scoring high was 17 against Utah; on Wednesday night he scored 23 points for the first time since March 23, 2011 (that stat is more than a little misleading, though, as Brooks played in China last season).
The Kings are a completely average 3-point shooting team in every way, and they went 11-for-19 (57.9%) from behind the arc in this game. The Warriors made their threes too (13-for-26), so it’s easy to look at the free throw disparity and wail about 18 free throw attempts for Cousins, and Lee certainly did while this game occurred. But the Warriors also weren’t quick enough when it came to closing out on players like Brooks (3-for-3 on threes) and Marcus Thornton (5-for-10).
The Warriors were tired. They looked tired after last night’s win over New Orleans and played like it in the fourth quarter, digging into energy reserves to keep Greivis Vasquez (seriously) from stealing a road game.
Strangely, the Warriors are 0-2 against both the Kings and the Magic. Orlando seems to be improving under Jacque Vaughn fairly rapidly, and now have a record of 12-13. But the Warriors have also beaten the Miami Heat and are 2-0 against the Hawks, Nets and Timberwolves.
Golden State has shown a habit of playing to the level of their competition, and in order to get a pass for this loss in Sacramento they’re going to have to sweep both ends of their next back-to-back: Friday against Charlotte and Saturday vs. the Lakers, both games in Oracle. After losing by 24 to the Lakers — two games after losing to the Kings back in early November — will the Warriors use tomorrow’s day off to regain the energy required to play the kind of defense they know they’ll need to keep winning more games than they lose? Or will the Lakers hop onto the list of teams that are 2-0 against Golden State?
A few other notes, that aren’t defense or energy-related:
— Lee is ridiculously efficient right now, and scored 19 points in the first half against New Orleans and 22 points in the first half against Sacramento, and scored 7 points in the second halves of each game. In Sacramento, part of that might have been due to the deficit the Warriors had to make up and Stephen Curry getting hot in the third quarter.
— Draymond Green gets a lot of love, including in this space less than 24 hours ago. But after going 0-for-5, he’s shooting 26.8% on the year.
— Seeing Richard Jefferson fall all over the place at the end of the game was weird. Less of that would be nice.