There was not an empty seat inside Golden 1 Center at tipoff Friday night for a matchup between the Warriors and Kings. In the final minutes, most every seat was vacant.
All but a few among the 17,583 in attendance were off the edge of their seats, standing and cheering and enjoying -- or agonizing.
This carnival ride of a game deserved that acclaim. Over the last 12 minutes, the Warriors had it. The Kings took it back. The Warriors reclaimed it. The Kings snatched it yet again before, finally, the Warriors came back one final time for a 130-125 victory.
It was a win to savor and a loss to remember. We take a deeper look at the positives and negatives in Warriors Under Review:
Defense arrives on demand
With Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the floor to open the fourth quarter, a six-point lead became a seven-point deficit in about three minutes. With the starters back -- Green left but returned -- for the final 5:11, the Warriors outscored the Kings 17-4 by forcing two turnovers (both Stephen Curry steals) and limiting them to 1-of-8 shooting from the field.
When the Warriors realized victory would require five brilliant minutes of defense, Green led the way as they dug in and found it.
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They owned the glass
The Warriors outrebounded Sacramento 60-42. All five starters attacked the glass and grabbed at least eight rebounds, topped by Green’s game-high 14. Thompson pulled a season-high nine. Alfonzo McKinnie came off the bench to snag eight, half of them on the offensive end to aid an 18-9 advantage in second-chance points.
On a night when they hurt themselves with damaging turnovers – 18, leading to 25 Sacramento points – the Warriors found the surest path to offset it.
Thompson’s shot selection
This was another of those nights when Thompson -- unquestionably a great shooter -- took too many quick or contested shots. Prior to draining a huge 3-pointer to give the Warriors the lead with 39.6 seconds remaining, he was 0-5 in the quarter and 9-of-26 in the game. Finishing with 27 points on 10-of-27 shooting, he missed nearly as many shots as Kevin Durant (33 points on 9-of-20 shooting, 4-of-8 in the fourth) attempted.
With Thompson’s shooting percentages down across the board, in a contract year, he couldn’t pick a worse time to lead the NBA in field goal attempts.
Looney held up well
Given the sprinter’s pace the Kings prefer, there was legitimate concern about Kevon Looney’s ability to log heavy minutes. Speed is not among the undersized center’s assets. But he was effective over 28 minutes, one off his season-high, with 10 points (5-of-5 shooting), eight rebounds and three assists to finish plus-19.
Looney had a couple rough games against the top-tier centers of Toronto and Minnesota. He bounced back nicely.
A night for the bench to forget
With veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston both out, the bench was predictably unsteady and uneven. Quinn Cook, needed as a shooter and playmaker, was bad on offense and worse on defense. Jonas Jerebko, affected by questionable foul calls, was unusually passive and grabbed only one rebound in 24 minutes, his lowest total in a month. McKinnie offered rebounding and not much else. Jordan Bell, whose speed was desirable, played 10 minutes without positive impact.
The reserves will be better, certainly with Iguodala and/or Livingston returning, but this was a game they should throw into the trash bin.