Golden State eased into the All-Star break by pretending it had already started, but couldn’t prevent their essential Warrior-ness from eventually emerging, throttling the Sacramento Kings with a building-clearing 109-86 final. It was their 17th victory of 20 or more points, six more than second-place Houston.
Klay Thompson (35/5/4, plus-36 in 31 minutes) snapped the sleep out of the Warriors, who blah-ed their way through a 47-point first half, and sent to New Orleans and various golf and dining establishments with a 47-9 record, while Sacramento dropped a chance to cut the gap between themselves and the playoffs to a half-game.
The game began turgidly enough, with the Warriors taking a 19-9 lead largely on the basis of making eight of their first nine shots before slowly returning most of that lead by missing 15 of their next 20. The early highlight was Stephen Curry’s over-the-right-shoulder block of a Willie Cauley-Stein gimme near the end of the first quarter, but it wasn’t nearly enough to excite a stolid and underinvolved crowd.
The game got no better in the second quarter, but the officiating irked Draymond Green enough to get two technical fouls for protesting a foul call in the final minute before the half. He aired out official Ron Garretson and then reloaded seconds later to get tossed, his ninth and 10th technical of the season.
It didn’t serve as immediate inspiration, but the Warriors’ inability to be uninteresting for an entire game reared its head in the third quarter. Their defense held Sacramento to 5-for-23 shooting and forced six turnovers, while offensively they scored 42 points (12 assists on 14 baskets), allowing Steve Kerr to clear the bench in the final eight minutes of mock. DeMarcus Cousins, the king of Kings, was held to a minimal 13 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
Thompson, returning from his absence against Denver, hit his first five shots, plus the game-sparking trey 3:37 into the third quarter and guided the Warriors through their soul-searing 42-15 period.
Thompson’s three to give the Warriors a 60-57 lead early in the third became the start of an absurd 22-0 run that took a close but bland game and made it a lopsided and bland game. He was easily the standout performer on a night that begged for them, and reiterated why the Warriors are the Warriors. They front-run like few teams in the history of the game.
Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia (R rotator cuff strain) and F/C David West (L thumb fracture) remained out, but Kerr expected them to be ready after the break.
Kings: F Omri Casspi (R foot tendon tear and R calf muscle strain), F Rudy Gay (L Achilles tendon rupture), G Ty Lawson (L thigh strain) and G Garrett Temple (L hamstring tear) did not play.
Thirty-three percent of the roster goes to New Orleans for the All-Star Game, and then regathers with the rest of the employees for games next Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Saturday against Brooklyn at The O. Both are 7:30 starts.