Injuries and prudence forced the Warriors to trot out a starting lineup Tuesday night they surely hope to avoid once the games matter.
With starting power forward Draymond Green not yet cleared to play and backup Eric Paschall coping with soreness in his right knee, small forward Juan Toscano-Anderson was the emergency starter and size was an issue during the significant moments of a 114-113 loss to the Kings at Golden 1 Center.
Steph Curry’s 29 points in 28 minutes were hardly enough to prop up an offense that didn’t recover from a 6-of-26 second quarter until the deep reserves from both teams took the floor in the fourth quarter.
Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre combined for 24 points in about 50 minutes but shot only 7-of-21 from the field. Marquese Chriss came off the bench to score 17 points, while shooting 3-of-4 from deep.
Here are three takeaways from the second of three preseason games.
The defense rested ... a lot
After lavish praise for their defense against the Denver Nuggets in the preseason opener, the Warriors opened by forcing five turnovers and limiting the Kings to 3-of-8 shooting in the first five-plus minutes.
And then, bam, the defense evaporated.
Sacramento shot 58.1 percent for the rest of the half and settled at 46.7 percent for the game. While guards Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox and Kyle Guy (a combined 55 points) were torching the Warriors on the perimeter, the Kings used size to own the paint.
The Warriors typically don’t fall in love with outside praise, and maybe that’s not the case here. But the defensive effort seen three days earlier was mostly absent.
This was a clear step backward and sure to be discussed in the Wednesday video session.
Small ball was punished
Green was at home. James Wiseman was on the trip but unavailable and awaiting clearance. Paschall was limping, as was Alen Smailagic. That’s a lot of length and muscle missing.
And, boy, did it show against a Sacramento team with no fewer than four players built to play power forward or center.
The Warriors were out-rebounded 27-19 in the first half, 42-39 through three quarters. Golden State was outscored 24-6 in the paint in the first half before narrowing the deficit after halftime.
The Warriors want to play fast. They like to play small. Their roster is relatively short. Regardless what they get from Kevon Looney and Chriss, they are not built to compete against big teams without Wiseman and Green.
Mulder making his case
When Mychal Mulder signed a 10-day contract last season, he was a no-name guy getting an opportunity on a team hunting talent until he started making shots in practice. And in games. It was enough for the Warriors to reward him with a partially guaranteed three-year contract.
Nine months later, he’s the sweetest shooter on the active roster not named Curry.
Mulder scored only three points on 1-of-4 shooting Tuesday and through two games has shot 4-of-6 from distance. He played only 10 minutes against the Kings, perhaps because his defense is lacking, but there is a role on this team for a shooter.
With expanded active rosters due to COVID-19, Mulder is a virtual lock to be on the opening-night roster, earning a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season.