Thanks to better defense, Curry 36, Warriors beat Kings despite no Green
SAN FRANCISCO — Leading up to Game 3, Steve Kerr shared with Golden State’s players his favorite John Wooden quote of all time: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
He challenged the Warriors to take better shots and be more careful with the ball to limit turnovers, and to rebound - rebound hard and with heart - then the reigning champions went out and dominated missing two of their top defenders, including suspended star Draymond Green.
Stephen Curry scored 36 points, Kevon Looney matched his career high with 20 rebounds to go with nine assists, and Golden State got right back in its first-round playoff series by thumping the Sacramento Kings 114-97 on Thursday night to pull to 2-1.
“We’re a team with a lot of pride, we know how to respond when our back’s against the wall, we always usually show up,” Looney said. “I think Draymond knew that. Without him playing he knew how we were going to respond. He knew he could count on us to hold down the fort while he’s out. We’re excited to get him back next game.”
The fiery forward was suspended without pay for stepping on the chest of Domantas Sabonis in the fourth quarter of Monday’s Game 2 at Golden 1 Center. The Warriors also were without key defensive stopper Gary Payton II after the guard became ill Wednesday.
Curry shot 12 for 25 with six 3s while Andrew Wiggins added 20 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who never trailed and will now try to even the best-of-seven series in Game 4 on Sunday back on their home court at Chase Center.
Sabonis, who grabbed Green’s foot during the play in question, was booed at every chance. The big man underwent tests that revealed a bruised sternum but was able to practice Wednesday and cleared to play. He had 14 rebounds by halftime and 16 total to go with 15 points. But Golden State’s smothering interior defense led to some spectacular plays on offense - Looney handling the bulk of the load defending Sabonis.
“This is Loon, this is who he is, we’ve seen it in the playoffs for years now,” Kerr said.
De’Aaron Fox was 5 for 14 in the first half for 12 points but finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Kings. Fox scored 62 in the first two games.
Jordan Poole - playing on a tender left ankle - started in Green’s place and had 16 points and five rebounds, while the Warriors also counted on contributions from Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and Donte DiVincenzo.
Looney, who led the NBA in offensive rebounds and played in his 218th straight game, corralled a key board from the offensive glass that led to Curry’s 3 to beat the halftime buzzer and make it a double-digit Warriors lead at 53-41.
Harrison Barnes added 17 points against his old team for Sacramento, whose fans were told to leave those noisy cowbells at home because they’re banned at Chase Center. Warriors fans were raucous in their own right sporting yellow “Gold Blooded” t-shirts and pounding Thunderstix.
“You have to understand that these guys aren’t going to lay down,” Barnes said. “They have a lot of pride. They’ve won a championship. “
NBA Coach of the Year Mike Brown, who received a shipment of new Vans sneakers, warned of what might happen if his Kings let down even in the slightest: “If we’re overconfident we’re going to get our behinds handed to us because these guys are champions.”
Rapper E-40 returned courtside for Game 3 fashionably late and fashionable.
The hip-hop star whose real name is Earl Stevens alleged “racial bias” after being kicked out of Game 1 at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center. He and the Kings put out a joint statement Wednesday explaining there was a ‘miscommunication’ and said it was an “unfortunate misunderstanding” between both parties.