Any win the Warriors can manage during this rough stretch of the schedule, and while their starting center is less than 100 percent, figures to go a long way. And, in the grand scheme of things, splitting the first four games can be considered a relatively good start, especially since three were on the road.
Still, 3-1 would’ve looked so much better than 2-2. And the fact that Golden State had it in their claws, before falling 94-92 at Sacramento, only makes Monday’s loss that much more irritating in the locker room.
Golden State has been fashioning itself as a blue-collar team. They want to win with defense, rebounding, toughness. They want to be known for aggressiveness, resilience. They showed some of that down the stretch, fighting back from a 16-point third quarter deficit. But the loss didn’t sit well because they didn’t do enough it.
MARK JACKSON: “They outworked us early on. That’s what it boiled down to. They were the hardest working team on the floor. The good thing is that we realized when we do put forth the effort and we execute, we climbed back into the ballgame. So imagine if we put together 48 minutes of that.”
Certainly, Sacramento was pumped. They’d lost their first three on the road. They were in their home opener. They were playing a local rival. But the Warriors lost to a team they believe they’re better than.
Perhaps the feeling they were better than the Kings was the problem. Perhaps.
JARRETT JACK: “I think our attention needs to be as high as it can be, no matter who we’re playing. It can kind of be one of those things where you’re playing the Clippers and they have certain guys on their team that obviously you’re going to get jacked when you play against them. This team (Sacramento) doesn’t have that same type of mystique. Not saying that’s what happened, but you could see just the lull we kind of had to start off the game and it kind of continued until about the third or fourth quarter.”
More on the Monday’s defeat …
MVP: Klay Thompson. He didn’t shoot it great, and he missed the game-winner. But it was an all-around solid game in what was otherwise a rough night for the Warriors.
He had 22 points on 7-for-17 shooting with a team-high 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
JACKSON: “He’s a legit shooting guard that can do a lot of things on the floor. A knockdown shooter. He’s improved immensely on the defensive end. … He’s chasing down being great, and the results will come.”
Perhaps most important, in the long run, is Thompson got some much-needed experience at finishing.
JACKSON: “One thing about him, he’s not afraid. You hold your head up and you look forward to the next one. I think what you learn is to realize that we’ve got another one and he’s going to get an opportunity.”
MDP: Stephen Curry
They said it was a rarity after he went 2-for-14 in the opener. Well, Curry had another rough shooting night, his second in four games. He was 3-for-15 from the field for 12 points Monday against Sacramento. He missed his first eight shots and never really found a rhythm.
To be sure, he did other things. He had 8 assists, 6 rebounds and a steal. He committed just 3 turnovers in 39 minutes. Still, 3-for-15 is a disappointing night.
JACKSON: “Very happy with his looks. Even more so pleased that he did the other things. He rebounded the basketball. He ran the team. The shots I’m not worried about. They’ll fall.”
KEY MOMENT I: The Warriors had tied the game at 56, thanks to a Curry 3-pointer. But the Kings big men, specifically DeMarcus Cousins, started to dominate, and it led to a 16-0 run.
Cousins’ pressure defense forced Ezeli into bricking a 14-footer, and Cousins gobbled up the rebound. On the other end of the floor, he putback an Isaiah Thomas miss and was fouled by Festus Ezeli. The Kings were up 14.
On the Warriors next possession, Carl Landry rebounded Draymond Green’s layup and tried to power it in. But Cousins blocked it. On the other end, Cousins nailed an open 16-footer, putting the Kings up 72-56.
YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “For a second I thought it was in, but it hit back rim. It was really disappointing. It’s going to be a long bus ride back. It’s going to be a long night. And you can bet I’m going to think about that for a long time. But we’ve got a game Wednesday. I guarantee I will be in that position before the year ends so I’m not going to dwell on it that long. But it definitely hurts.” – Klay Thompson
Xs AND Os: With 10.9 seconds left, the Warriors did something they used to never do — went to a set that had been working and milked it for a good shot.
Down one, Curry got the ball at the top, dumped it down to Bogut. He had a rough go for a second, stumbling and nearly falling, but he kept his dribble long enough to regather and hit Klay, who had curled off a couple of screens. Klay caught it in stride, rose up and got a good look at the rim.
Thompson missed the shot, but the impressive part was that the Warriors had a play, and they executed it. Before, the Warriors’ need-a-bucket offense was clearing it out for Monta Ellis at the top. This was a good call that led to a good shot, about as high percentage as you can get outside the paint.
Speaking of high-percentage shots, how is it Carl Landry only took four shots?
Jackson went away from his prized horse on Monday. Landry averaged 20 points on 65.7 percent shooting the first three games. But against the Kings, he played just shy of 20 minutes and barely touched the ball.
What’s more, Landry came into the game tied for third in the league with 28 fourth-quarter points. Monday, he played just five minutes in the fourth quarter, making his only shot and knocking down a pair of free throws.
Why did Jackson go away from Landry? No. 1, he played center Andrew Bogut the final seven minutes. Instead of putting Bogut with Landry, Jackson paired Lee and Bogut.
Also, the Kings made it hard for Landry. They converge on the paint well and suffocate you with their size. Landry, who can usually get free with a couple moves, was finding it hard to get an opening.
It would stand to reason that Landry would be in there for the final play. But it was clear the play called for a pass out of the low post, and Bogut is the best passing big man the Warriors have. Since Lee is a better high-post player than Landry, it made since to have Lee in the game and not Landry.
However, you could argue that Jackson should have gone to Landry, who can either get a bucket or draw a foul. But Jackson went with what was working. This night, Landry didn’t have it working so well.
Landry wasn’t the only one Jackson went away from. Jarrett Jack played just 18 minutes and sat the final minutes of the game. Jackson chucked the three-guard lineup that has worked so well to date, and went with the starters at the end.
SERIOUSLY?: Four times Monday night, a black tarp fell from the video board and onto the court. One time, coach Keith Smart hustled onto the court, grabbed the tarp and hustled off. He was like one of those runners in tennis. The last time, in the fourth quarter, Kings guard Aaron Brooks removed it.
The crowd started chanting “New A-Re-Na.”
Which was the most irritating: that these tarps kept falling from above onto the court or that not one time did it fall during play? Assuming it was flimsy plastic as it looked, and of course no one would get hurt, how classic would it have been if one had fallen on a player? Imagine Jarrett Jack’s reaction if he was dribbling up court and was suddenly engulfed by a Glad trash bag.
KEY MOMENT II: With four minutes left, the Warriors were running out of time to make a run. They had the lead down to 8 with 3:07 left and needed a big play to really put a scare in the Kings.
David Lee knocked away Kings PG Aaron Brooks’ entry pass, leading to a Warriors break. Curry, cut off by Brooks at the other end, slowed it up a little and headed back out to the top. As the rest of the players charged towards him, it looked as if he was going to pass on the transition opportunity and run another play. But when he turned to face the basket and saw no one was on him, he pulled up the 3-pointer. Considering he was struggling so mightily with his shot, coach Mark Jackson was probably screaming “Nooooo” when Curry took it. But he drilled it, cutting the Kings’ lead to 89-84 and prompting Kings coach Keith Smart to call a timeout.
Curry walked back to the bench shaking his head, as if to say “finally.” That 3-pointer actually put it in the Kings head they could lose, and solidified the Warriors belief they could win it.
BEFORE YOU GO: Rookie forward Harrison Barnes logged 30 minutes Monday. He took eight shots, making 3, and finished with six points. Two of his made baskets were dunks. But his most impressive stat: 4 assists.
Barnes is making progress, however gradual. But one thing he must do better is rebound. Two rebounds in 30 minutes is not the business.