Warriors Overcome Late run by Sacramento, Commit 25 Turnovers in 119-104 Win.
After an embarrassing 30-point loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors (40-11) flew to northern California to take on the Sacramento Kings (16-34). So far this season, the Warriors had not lost a game following a loss, and they would be looking to continue that trend against the Kings. The Sacramento Kings were looking to build off their win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night. The last time these two teams met was on November 27, and the Kings beat the Warriors 110-106, so they were coming into this game with a lot of confidence, and were looking to give the Warriors back-to-back losses for the first time this year. The Warriors would be without three key veterans in David West, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston. The Warriors went on to win the game 119-104.
In the first quarter, the Kings got off to a blisteringly hot start and jumped out to an early 20-7 lead, but the Warriors woke back up and went on a 10-0 run to make it a 20-17 Kings lead with 4:15 left in the quarter. Zaza Pachulia and Kevon Looney were key in the Warriors run to make it a close game again, providing solid energy that the rest of the team was lacking. The Warriors closed out the quarter with some nice offense, but they didn’t play much solid defense at all in the entirety of the quarter. JaVale McGee and Nick Young both came off the bench to provide a nice spark for the Warriors, and they combined for eight points. The Warriors shot 44.4% in the opening quarter, while the Kings also shot 44.4%. The Kings opened the quarter shooting much better than that though, and the Warriors much worse, but things evened out as the quarter progressed. Both teams also shot the same percentage from beyond the arc at 45.5%. The leading scorers for the Warriors were Klay Thompson and Nick Young, who both had six points. The Kings were led by Justin Jackson, who had eight points. After the first quarter, The Warriors led the Kings 29-27.
The second quarter saw the Warriors put the clamps down on defense. Players like Draymond Green were the spearhead behind the defensive surge that resulted in the Kings going long stretches without being able to put the ball through the basket. On the offensive end, the Warriors still were a little skittish, but Kevin Durant put the team on his back, scoring 15 points in the second quarter, and was the leading scorer at the half with 17 points. One thing that plagued the Warriors was turnovers, of which the Warriors had 12 as the halftime buzzer sounded. They were able to offset the turnovers thanks to some better shooting, and better defense. The Warriors finished the half shooting 51.5% overall and 53.3% from three. The Kings struggled to shoot in the second quarter, finishing the half at 43.8% overall and 40% from three. As mentioned before, Kevin Durant was the leading scorer for the Warriors with 17 points, and the next highest scorer was Stephen Curry with 13 of his own. The Warriors had some solid production off the bench thanks to JaVale McGee and Kevon Looney, who both were playing good minutes in the half, and JaVale even threw down a couple lobs. Sacramento's leading scorer was Zach Randolph, who finished the half with 11 points, doing so primarily with flip shots in the paint. At the half, the Warriors led the Kings 58-52.
In the third quarter, the Warriors were great at times, and terrible at times. It was quite the rollercoaster. They began the quarter a little slow, but then picked it up and began swinging the ball around to shooters on the perimeter, leading to nice threes from KD, Klay, and Steph, but then they reverted back to turning the ball over at a rate that was previously unseen. They ended the quarter with 19 turnovers, and many of them were awful, coming on terrible passes and bad plays. They still shot the ball better than 50% and were at 50.8% as a team. Stephen Curry overtook KD as the leading scorer with 21 points, while KD had 20, and Klay was close behind with 17. The Kings were able to keep pace with the Warriors thanks to some nice shooting and the Warriors’ many turnovers. Their leading scorer was still Zach Randolph, who had 16 points, and made a three from well beyond the arc. After the third, the Warriors led 84-75.
The fourth quarter saw the Kings go on a run and make it a one-point game on the back of Buddy Hield. He was the driving force behind the Kings’ late runs, and finished the game with 16 points. The Warriors were able to respond largely because of Kevin Durant’s spectacular shooting night. He scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, and finished the game with 33 points. He hit several clutch shots, including a deep three to put the Warriors ahead by 10 points. The Warriors did continue to turn the ball over at an unprecedented rate, and finished with 25 turnovers. The turnovers led to many fastbreak opportunities for the Kings, and allowed for them to shoot 15 more shots than the Warriors. The Warriors finished the game shooting 55% overall and 51.5% from three, and their three point shooting was one of the main reasons that they won the game. The Kings finished shooting 44.4% overall and 40% from three. The Warriors hung on to win the game 119-104, and have won 11 straight games after a loss.
Though the Warriors hung on to win this game, it did not feel like a win. They did not play very well at all down the stretch outside of a couple players. The turnover problem ran rampant, and the carelessness was incredibly frustrating to watch. Not only were turnovers an issue, but there was an issue with players passing up wide open shots, and the players that were mostly contributing to this issue were Pat McCaw and Omri Casspi. Both players have developed a tendency to drive to the hoop at all times, even when they are wide open on the three point line, and neither one of them has made a three in over a month. Their unwillingness to pull up from deep or even from the midrange has become incredibly frustrating, and it looks as if they are scared to shoot the ball, which does not fit well in the Warriors’ offense. I was glad that the Warriors pulled ahead at the end so we could get a brief glimpse at Quinn Cook again, who was named a G-League All-Star this year, and if he started shooting in an NBA game and kept shooting regardless of the result, then I would prefer him play over Pat McCaw.
An article came out recently that suggested the Warriors will address their bench scoring at the trade deadline, and I think that this is a brilliant idea. The Warriors currently rank last in bench threes, and they would be even worse off without Nick Young, who has made the vast majority of the threes on the Warriors’ bench. At this point, I don’t have an issue with trying to shop a guy like Pat McCaw and some draft picks to try and land a veteran three-point shooter. I am officially fed up with the lack of scoring from him and others. McCaw played 27 minutes against the Kings, and scored no points, and only took two shots. I am not the biggest fan of Nick Young, but I have no room to complain because regardless of what’s going on, at least he has the courage to pull up from deep. There are several three-point shooters that could potentially hit the market, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the Warriors give up a decent amount to get them.
Now, enough for the negatives from tonight’s game, several players had solid performances. No one played better than Kevin Durant. He finished with 33 points, six assists, and four rebounds, and his only real issue was that he turned the ball over five times, which I can live with if he can drop 33 points on 12/17 shooting. Stephen Curry finished with 23 points on 7-17 shooting, while also dishing out six assists and grabbing four rebounds. Klay Thompson had a very efficient game, going 8/12 with 20 points. Draymond Green also had a nice, well-rounded game. He finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block. Now, he also turned the ball over five times, but other than that, he was pretty great. Nick Young made four threes off the bench, including a late one to ice the game. Zaza Pachulia also had one of his best games of the season. He had eight points and he grabbed 13 rebounds. Outside of the team-wide turnover issues, the team had a pretty solid game.
The Warriors will play next on Saturday, February 3, in Denver against the Nuggets at 6 p.m.