OAKLAND – Displaying plenty of warts, the Warriors came out of the break with just enough juice to post a pulsating 125-123 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday at Oracle Arena.
The win completed a four-game sweep of their NorCal neighbors, who are becoming a difficult team to deal with. The Warriors prevailed mostly because they are more familiar with the necessities required at winning time.
Here are some of the positives and negatives taken from the game:
The Kings stubbornly refused to go away, so somebody had to keep pushing until they were gone. Stephen Curry accepted the job and was masterful at it, scoring 11 of his game-high 36 points over the final seven minutes – with eight coming over the final 2:34. Curry was 10-of-16 from deep overall, but in a game up for grabs until the final horn, he starred in the role of closer.
Sacramento may be tracking the Warriors, but Curry’s shooting – 10 triples in each of last two games against the Kings – continues to expose a hole in the defense.
Energy highs and lows
Sacramento generally looked like a team with energy to burn. The Warriors generally looked like a team trying to summon energy. The result was the Kings being more consistently aggressive, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and being quicker to 50-50 balls. There is a reason Kevin Durant and Draymond Green both implied the Kings were more deserving of victory.
Perhaps the Warriors, who never get much rest during the All-Star break, needed a game to regroup and find rhythm. They clearly struggled to keep up.
Draymond draining triples
There may not have been a more welcome sight for the Warriors than Draymond Green’s 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He was 4-of-30 from deep over the previous 12 games.
Benches around the league have been ridiculing him, sagging off of him and urging him to fire away. The Kings did, and they got burned.
Green doesn’t have to be a great, or even good, 3-point shooter. But, there is great benefit to the Warriors if he’s enough of a threat to command a defender.
Second unit struggles
The Warriors entered the second quarter with a five-point lead. Less than three minutes later, they were down by six.
What happened? The second unit – Quinn Cook, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Green and DeMarcus Cousins – had difficulty generating offense and zero defensive presence. The Kings’ 15-4 run came in the blink of an eye, with Marvin Bagley III and Corey Brewer accounting for 12 points.
Though the second unit was much better in opening the fourth quarter, turning a two-point deficit into a three-point lead in less than two minutes, the group remains a work in progress.
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KD’s Block Party
Durant scored 17 points in 18 first-half minutes. He was efficient, making six field goals in nine attempts. The stunner is that he blocked just as many shots, most of them against Bagley. The six-block first half led to a seven-block game, which ties his career record.
Durant shrugged off the blocks, saying he took advantage of Bagley’s tendency to begin his shot at waist-level. OK. But seven blocks is superb. Six in a half is absurd.