Warriors get Three of their Four Stars back, but lose McCaw, beat Kings 112-96
After losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the team’s first game since the return of Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors (54-21) flew north to take on the Sacramento Kings (24-52). This would be the first time in the last eight games that the Warriors would have a team that featured three All Stars on the active roster. Klay Thompson made his triumphant return from a fractured thumb after missing eight games, Kevin Durant was looking to play a full game after getting ejected against the Bucks, and Draymond Green would be looking to bring the same fire and intensity he brought last game. The Kings were looking to snap a three-game losing streak by beating the Warriors for the third time this season. The Warriors went on to beat the Kings 112-96.
Both teams were looking incredibly sharp early in the first quarter. Klay Thompson was especially sharp for the Warriors, nailing his first three shots. JaVale McGee was making some incredibly athletic plays, one of which was an absurd alley-oop that is bound to end up on the Sportscenter Top 10. Draymond Green looked as good as he had all year, throwing incredible full-court passes and all picking the pocket of any King who dared to test him. The Kings were moving the ball like crazy, and they were able to find open shooters with relative ease. More often than not, Boban Bogdanovic was the open shooter and had seven early points. Willie-Cauley Stein threw down a vicious dunk in the paint for the Kings which helped keep the momentum in flux. The score was tied at 13 with just over six minutes left in the quarter. The Kings came out of the timeout with the intent to do damage and do it quickly. De'Aaron Fox got hot for the Kings, and was able to knock down shot after shot in the mid range. The Kings managed to build a nice lead, but the Warriors were able to cut into it thanks to some nice ball movement and the ability to take advantage of fast-break opportunities. Kevin Durant was driving to the hoop and scoring with relative east, which is always a good sign. The Warriors then ended the quarter on a 12-2 run to take the lead. Kevin Durant was the leading scorer for the Warriors with 15 points, and Klay Thompson was behind him with six points. The Kings were being led by De’Aaron Fox, who had 10 points, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had nine points. As a team, the Warriors were shooting 54.5% from the field, and the Kings were shooting 47.8%. Neither team made more than one three in the first quarter, and the Warriors led the Kings 28-25.
The Warriors opened the second quarter by continuing the run they started late in the first quarter, and they made it a 17-2 run by the time the Kings called an early timeout. Both teams continued to play well throughout the second quarter, but the Warriors played better than the Kings. The Kings were playing aggressively and managed to force three turnovers in the second quarter, but were turning the ball over themselves, compiling 10 turnovers at the half. The Warriors had a healthy lead throughout the quarter thanks to the run they had late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter. When the Warriors were scoring, they were doing so around the hoop and in the mid range game, as they were not having much success from beyond the arc. There was some chippiness between the two teams halfway through the quarter between Shaun Livingston and several Kings. Livingston was unhappy with the officials for not calling a foul when he was elbowed in the face, and then he threw a King to the floor resulting in a quick scrum that reminded us how respected and tough David West is. The Kings closed the quarter on a high note thanks to a buzzer-beating three from Buddy Hield. The leading scorer for the Warriors was Kevin Durant, who had 17 points (6/12). Klay Thompson was the next-highest scorer with 14 points (6/12). As a team, the Warriors were shooting 51.2% from the field, and only attempted nine threes in the half. The Kings were led by De’Aaron Fox with 17 points (6/10), and Bogdan Bogdanovic with 12 points (5/6). As a team, the Kings were shooting 43.2% from the field, and 28.6% from three. At the half, the Warriors led the Kings 57-49.
Kevin Durant started off the third quarter by nailing several big shots. He hit the second three of the game for the Warriors, which was also the second three of his night. The Kings were still hanging in the game though, even though the Warriors were playing very solid defense behind Draymond Green. The Kings forced the Warriors to commit two early turnovers, which forced Steve Kerr to call an early timeout. After that initial timeout, the Warriors came out and started scoring again, and they were scoring a lot. Klay Thompson, Quinn Cook, and Nick Young hit their first threes of the night, and Kevon Looney was driving to the hoop with an aggressiveness unlike anything I’ve ever seen from him. Before the Kings called a timeout, the Warriors had created a 14-point lead, their largest of the night at the time. Late in the quarter, as Pat McCaw went up for a dunk, he was undercut by Vince Carter and he fell, landed on his back, and was on the ground writhing in pain before being loaded onto a stretcher and taken off the court. After the injury, the mood of the game was very different, but the Warriors were able to score a quick four points on a Jordan Bell jumper and a Quinn Cook layup to grab their highest lead of the game at 24 points. Kevin Durant was still leading the Warriors in scoring with 27 points, and De’Aaron Fox was still leading the Kings with 15 points. At the end of the third quarter, the Warriors led 93-69.
The fourth quarter was very slow, and was without much action. The Warriors were basically just running out the clock, but the whole mood in the arena changed when Pat McCaw went down. Klay Thompson hit a couple threes, one of which came from behind the backboard at the end of the shot clock. He finished with 25 points in his first game back from injury, which was a very nice thing to see. KD led all scorers with 27 points, while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out five assists. Buddy Hield was the leading scorer for the Kings with 19 points, and hit several impressive threes in the second half. The Warriors finished the game shooting 49.4% from the field, and 34.6% from three. The Kings shot a combined 41.9% from the field, and 28.6% from three. The Warriors hung on to beat the Kings 112-96.
This was a pretty good game for the Warriors in the sense that they had three of their stars back, and they all played well. It was not a good game in the sense that they lost another key player to a horrific injury. I have never seen an NBA team be hit with more injuries from the top to bottom of their roster like the Warriors have this year, nearly everyone has been hurt at some point, and many of them have been freak injuries. Pat McCaw has now been injured several times, and it always seems to come when he is getting into a groove and finding his confidence. Frankly, it is very upsetting and I don’t have much motivation to dig deep into what happened in today’s game.
Pat McCaw is being transported to UC Davis to undergo further analysis and get a diagnosis for his injury. I really hope it isn’t too bad, and he is able to make a return this year. I don’t think Vince Carter meant to upend McCaw like he did, and he was very visibly shaken up by the whole incident, and was even moved to tears. It is just a bad situation for everyone involved.
The Warriors play their next game on Sunday, April 1, at home against the Phoenix Suns at 5:30 p.m.