Warriors

Warriors will be fine if they can bottle what they drank in Philadelphia

Warriors will be fine if they can bottle what they drank in Philadelphia

Their first 24 minutes on the court Saturday were much like most of the previous 96, with occasional defense, spells of rebounding apathy, 10 turnovers and one timeout for a few moments of internal soul-searching.

The Warriors looked to be in the fast lane to defeat, to be followed by a quiet ride to the Philadelphia airport for a six-hour flight to contemplate a 1-3 road trip.

But a fire started at halftime when the Warriors went into the visitor’s locker room at Wells Fargo Center trailing the 76ers by 12 points. There was a radical transformation, an attitude adjustment.

The second-half Warriors were the Warriors we’ve seen so often in recent years, Draymond Green turning up his contagious defensive vitality, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins combining for 33 points and Stephen Curry rocking the 76ers to sleep down the stretch.

Can the Warriors bottle what they poured onto the 76ers over the final 24 minutes, wiping out a 14-point deficit and emerging with a 120-117 victory?

“We needed this,” Cousins told ABC. “We’ve kind of been, I guess you could say, in a slump these past couple games, not really playing the right way. But we really came together and took a step forward.”

Trailing Philadelphia 71-57 less than a minute 53 into the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 16-0 run during which they forced seven missed shots and three turnovers. That lame first half, during which the 76ers shot 53.5 percent from the field, suddenly was a distant memory.

“We were more engaged – not so much in the first half – but in the second half,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We played with more force.”

Though applies to both ends, it began with defense. It always does. When the Warriors defend as if it truly matters, buckets fall out of the sky. The 76ers shot 36.4 percent in the second half. Philly point guard Ben Simmons, who terrorized the Warriors 30 days earlier in Oakland and was destroying them in the first half, was crowded by the likes of Jordan Bell and Green and couldn’t function.

Simmons’ first six quarters against the Warriors this season: 44 points, 17-of-21 shooting, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and six steals.

Simmons in the second half Saturday: 7 points on 3-of-7 shooting, eight assists, eight rebounds – and five turnovers. At minus-22 after halftime, he was the worst 76er on the floor.

And the Warriors, without Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney in this game, coming off back-to-back losses at Miami and Orlando, looked like the best team in the NBA.

“Because of the circumstances, having lost two in a row, being without Klay, without Looney, playing against a great team on the road, definitely one of the best wins of the year,” Kerr said.

[RELATED: Grading each player on roster through 62 games]

The involvement was comprehensive. Durant scored 34 points, Curry 28 and Cousins 25. Two-way wing Damion Lee, pressed into service, drained a career-high four 3-pointers for 12 points off the bench.

Green’s numbers were solid, but it was more noteworthy that after two subpar games in Florida he was the driving force in the second half.

“The last two games have been rough,” Curry said. “Obviously, Miami was down to the wire. Orlando, we played hard and just flamed out at the end. So to finish a road trip with a win without Klay and get on this six-hour flight with smiles on our faces, that means a lot.

“With 20 games or 19 games left, these feel-good kind of games where you just figure out how to win is very kind of playoff-esque. We want to build that kind of mentality and expectation down the stretch of the season.”

The Warriors won because, realizing they were again under siege on national TV, they summoned anger. They played better, but they also played with a certain fury.

“Sometimes you forget how hard it is to win a game in this league because everybody’s got talent,” Kerr said. “I think our guys understood they had to fight their way out of this mini-rut, so it’s a good way to start. Now we have to go home and start a win streak.”

That’s a tough task, with heavyweights Boston and Denver invading Oracle Arena this week.

But if the Warriors concoct the same brew that sent them into a 24-minute rage in Philly, it will be difficult for the Celtics or Nuggets – of anybody else – to keep up.

Warriors vs. Kings watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

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USATSI

Warriors vs. Kings watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors have made a habit of beating the Kings in recent years, but that trend could change Sunday afternoon as the two teams match up for the first time this season.

Entering Sunday's game, the Warriors have won the last five meetings, sweeping last year’s season series. However, the Kings (11-14) are the team with postseason aspirations, while the Warriors (5-22) are NBA draft lottery-bound with most of their All-Stars out injured. 

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors vs. Kings online, on TV]

Before the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave an update on Eric Paschall's status.

Coverage begins on NBC Sports Bay Area at 4:30 p.m. and tipoff is scheduled for 5:40. 

PROJECTED LINEUPS 

Warriors
F TBA
F Draymond Green
C WIllie Cauley-Stein
G D'Angelo Russell
G Glenn Robinson III

Kings
G Cory Joseph
G Buddy Hield
C Richaun Holmes
F Nemanja Bjelica
F Harrison Barnes

INJURY REPORT

Kings: Kyle Guy (G League assignment) and DaQuan Jeffries (G League assignment) are out. De'Aaron Fox (left ankle sprain) is doubtful. 

Warriors: Ky Bowman (G League assignment), Stephen Curry (left-hand fracture), Alen Smailagic (G League assignment, Klay Thompson (left ACL rehabilitation) and Eric Paschall (left hip soreness) are out.

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: D'Angelo Russell will play against Luke Walton -- his former coach with the Los Angeles Lakers -- on Sunday afternoon, and Russell is building a healthy résumé. In 15 games, he's averaging 22.4 points and 6.1 assists, leading the battered Warriors in scoring. Alec Burks has scored in double figures in his last nine appearances. However, the Warriors defense still needs work, as Golden State is giving up 114.2 points per game. Former King Willie Cauley-Stein should get the start against his former team, something he seems excited about. 

Kings: Sharpshooter Buddy Hield is coming off one of his best games of the season, scoring 34 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against the New York Knicks on Friday evening. Over his last 10 games, Hield is averaging 26.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Despite losing Fox to an ankle injury last month, the Kings have inched into the postseason picture and entered Sunday seventh in the Western Conference. However, the Kings haven't won a game against the Warriors on the road since March 2018. 

OFFICIALS: Josh Tiven (No. 58, crew chief), Bill Kennedy (No. 55), Derek Richardson (No. 63) 

Warriors vs. Kings live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV

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USATSI

Warriors vs. Kings live stream: How to watch NBA game online, on TV

It'll be a battle of the Northern California teams as the Warriors host the Kings in San Francisco on MyTeams Day.

The Warriors hope to turn things around while they hold the worst record in the NBA. Perhaps a "turnaround" is overzealous and is not the right term, but something needs to change. 

On the other side of the ball, the Kings are coming off a tough loss to the Knicks on Friday which stopped a three-game winning streak.

The MyTeams festivities are extra special on Sunday with the Holiday Edition and the team is ready:

When: Sunday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. PT -- pregame coverage begins at 4:30 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Bay Area
Live Stream: MyTeams App