Whatever momentum the Warriors had from beating the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento came to town and took it.
The Kings improved to 3-1 against Golden State this season with a 105-98 win at Oracle Arena. The Warriors, which had won four of five, put together a performance that betrayed their talk of finishing strong.
They got outplayed and outworked by the worst road team in the NBA. The Kings were 6-30 and hadn’t beaten a winning team away from home all season.
On top of that, the Warriors missed a chance to put some distance between themselves and Houston for the No. 6 seed. The Rockets lost at home to Indiana, which means the Warriors missed a chance to move two games up. As it stands now, they are still tied with Houston the loss.
MARK JACKSON: “We did not play well from top to bottom. … Just glad we don’t have to face them in a seven-game series right now.”
The last two games, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has played 43 and 46 minutes. His back up, Jarrett Jack, has played 33 and 35 minutes the last two games. Conversely, rookie reserves Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore totaled just over 8 minutes the last two games. Veteran Richard Jefferson hasn’t played at all.
Jackson has noticeably shortened his rotation. He’s primarily playing the five starters and Jack off the bench. He’s been mixing in forward Carl Landry and rookie center Festus Ezeli off the bench.
JACKSON: “It’s a combination of both shortening the rotation and reading (the situations). It doesn’t mean those guys aren’t going to play. … The good teams that I’ve been on, the good teams that I’ve watched, this time of year you shorten it.”
From a macro perspective, the biggest news out of Monday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers was point guard Stephen Curry’s ankle.
He sprained it for the third time this season on Saturday and was questionable heading into the game. But in the end, he did play. He finished with 25 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds to lead the Warriors to their fourth win in five games.
Unlike this previous two times, Curry didn’t have to miss any action. He said that shows the progress of his much maligned right ankle.
CURRY: “I’ve been through a lot obviously with the ankle. But this year has been a new feeling. If I have an episode, I’ve been able to bounce back quickly. So after the (Saturday) game, I didn’t have any worries that it would last too long. I know how it feels at the moment it happens and I’ve healed quickly. It’s a good feeling to be able to come back in 48 hours and be able to play.”
Curry said it wasn’t looking to good at shootaround on Monday. He said it was stiff and he thought it might be all bad. He said he considered giving it more rest. But after getting treatment all afternoon, it was ok enough to test out pregame.
Under the watchful eyes of just about everyone who draws a paycheck from the Warriors, Curry went through his pregame warm-ups without issue. He acknowledged being sore, but said he didn’t have to compensate and didn’t have to “baby” his ankle while on the court.
The last hurdle was convincing Jackson. That’s a hurdle Curry usually loses. This time, he won.
JACKSON: “Believe it or not, he’s won more than once. I would probably say we’re about .500. He’s a guy that’s a pro and he’s a gamer. He wanted this.”
The Warriors were going to take the day off on Tuesday, part of coach Mark Jackson’s win-and-rest philosophy. But Monday night, he got word that a special guest was in town and coming to practice. So Jackson changed plans and held practice.
The guest was Bill Russell.
JACKSON: “Unbelievable. I’m speechless. It meant a lot to my guys. It’s just unbelievable. It really is unbelievable. As a young kid dreaming of being in this position … It’s truly a blessing.”
Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has been cleared to play Monday night’s game against the visiting Lakers.
Curry was questionable after spraining his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over Washington. He received treatment Sunday and Monday. After pregame warm-ups, watched by coach Mark Jackson, the athletic trainers and even general manager Bob Myers, was given the green light to take part in the starting lineup.
It was the third time he’s sprained his ankle this season, the other two times happening in January. But he’s only missed four games this season, two each time.
Monday’s game has some importance. The rival Lakers have beaten Golden State six straight times, including three straight at Oracle. Perhaps most important, the Warriors sit just a half-game ahead of Houston for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference with 11 games to play.
Should the Warriors have rested him? Or if he can play, he should play (especially against the Lakers)
The Warriors have lost six straight to the Los Angeles Lakers, including the last three meetings at Oracle Arena. Golden State has beaten Miami, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, the Clippers. But the Lakers hump they have yet to climb. No doubt Golden State has some unfinished business to take care of against their SoCal rivals.
The Warriors caught the break of the night, perhaps, when Washington point guard John Wall was ejected midway through the third quarter. He picked up his second technical foul after taunting Golden State guard Klay Thompson (as seen and heard in this video).
THOMPSON: “I think he was just frustrated. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, though. I know John. I’ve played with him. In that moment, I understand. You’re frustrated. After you get fouled hard, then the next play you think you get fouled hard again. He’s competitive. He let his emotions get the best of them.”
It began on a fast break moments earlier. A Curry turnover led to a break-away by Wall. Thompson fouled Wall to prevent the layup and Wall landed hard, sliding into the stanchion.
On the Warriors’ ensuing offensive possession, Wall was pressuring Thompson near the sidelines. Thompson was trying to receive a pass from Curry and an aggressive Wall knocked it out of bounds. In the process, Thompson gave Wall a little forearm shove, knocking him to the ground. It wasn’t called.
While the Warriors inbounded the ball, Wall began barking at Thompson as the two walked to the other side of the court. Wall said he would knock Thompson out and dared him to drive to the basket.
THOMPSON: “I would’ve been unhappy, too. But I’m not trying to get kicked out. It is what it is.”
The officials intervened as Wall’s jawing continued. Both were slapped with technical fouls (though replay shows Thompson did not respond). Wall had picked up a technical foul in the first quarter for arguing with the officials over a David Lee screen. So with his second technical, he was disqualified.
WALL: “Calls weren’t going our way. They got a little too physical. We had some words back and forth and I got my second tech. … We had a chance to win this game. I just let them down. I let the team down getting ejected.”
Last season, even earlier this year, Warriors second-year guard Klay Thompson never visited the training room.
THOMPSON: “I thought I was invincible. I’m thinking, ‘I’m 22, 23. I’m not getting tired.’ But, boy, I was wrong.”
Now, Thompson gets stretched before games. He’s more diligent about eating right and getting his sleep to fend off the soreness and fatigue. His youthful façade of invincibility has been shattered by big minutes in meaningful NBA games.
Don’t get him wrong, he loves it. When told he’s played the second-most minutes in the NBA since the All-Star break, his face lit up like he got a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.
THOMPSON: “That’s awesome.“That’s gotta be the best stat I’ve heard in a long time.”
Thompson, a gym rat by nature, said he’s longed for the day he’d transition from promising reserve to a must-have-on-the-court starter. Sure, he’s so high on the minutes list because the Warriors have played more games than any team since the break. But he’s still experiencing, for the first time, the grind of being on a winning team in the NBA.
And guess who is the only player who’s played more minutes than Thompson? Stephen Curry.
Winning in San Antonio seems all but impossible for the Warriors. They haven’t done so since 1997, a span of 28 games.
Once again, the Spurs are one of the best teams in the West and the Warriors come to town as major underdogs. Is the 29th time the charm? Will the streak end tonight?
San Antonio will be without All-Star point guard Tony Parker, which figures to help the Warriors (they’ve been starting Corey Joseph at point). But what must the Warriors do to pull it out at the Alamo and head home with a 3-0 road trip? Here are five keys …