The Warriors said they were ready for the regular season to begin. But Wednesday, they got a taste of the real thing, courtesy of a Sacramento Kings squad playing like they wanted to send a message.
Matchups between Golden State and the Sacramento Kings are usually intense. But this one had a midseason feel to it. Hard fouls. Rampant trash talk. Emotional runs. Even a flagrant foul.
In this environment, with the burners turned up on high, the Warriors managed just nine points in the fourth quarter, blowing a 17-point lead and losing 91-90.
Golden State was 3 of 19 from the field in the fourth quarter with five turnovers. They were out-rebounded 17 to 12, giving up four offensive rebounds (two of them coming at the worst time).
MARK JACKSON: “We’re a different basketball team than in the past but the disappointing part is when you need a rebound or you need a stop we didn’t come up with it. The good teams, the great teams, the teams that are playing in June you got to come up with that play. The Spurs lost a championship because of their inability to get a rebound when it mattered.”
It seemed the Warriors weren’t seem quite ready for the challenge after all.
They have one more tilt before kicking off the 2013-14 campaign. They conclude their second back-to-back of the preseason Thursday against visiting Portland.
It’s probably wise not to expect much from the starters. Since coach Mark Jackson said he wanted to play it safe, he might let them rest the second half. Thompson logged nearly 38 minutes Wednesday, Andre Iguodala 36, David Lee 32 and Andrew Bogut 29. And those minutes came in a physical, heated nail-biter.
Bogut and the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins wrestled all night, with Cousins fouling out on the tandem’s second set of double fouls. Jermaine O’Neal mixed it up with everyone who came in the lane. Guards Curry and Isaiah Thomas spent the second half jawing at each other and once had to be separated. Marreese Speights, who had a lot to say while on the court, drew a flagrant foul for intentionally tripping Patrick Patterson. And Lee nearly lost a tooth on a shot from Patterson while they battled for a rebound.
Then to top it off, a Kings run down the stretch erased a Warriors lead. And Golden State didn’t look so efficient in crunch time.
The Warriors led by as much as 17 as Curry went off for 14 points in the third quarter. But that lead was down to 84-80 midway through the fourth quarter. A layup by Bogut put the Warriors up six, but Golden State went scoreless on its next five possessions. Two jumpers and a pair of free throws by Kings’ John Salmons tied the game at 86.
BOGUT: “A hard lesson learned. We’re the top dog now. Teams are going to come after us … especially teams that aren’t supposed to beat us us on paper, they’re going to give us their best shot. If we don’t come to play — especially against a free-flowing team like Sacramento who gets up and down, shoots a lot of threes — it’s going to be a tough game.”
Curry split a pair of free throws to give the Warriors the lead again with 3:07 left. Thomas put Sacramento ahead, 88-87, with a falling down bank shot from the right wing after a near steal by Curry. But the Warriors’ point guard answered with a pull-up jumper. Golden State led by a point with 1:17 left.
Salmons buried an open 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left, putting the Warriors down 91-89.
Golden State’s final play put the ball in Andre Iguodala’s hands and run a play for Curry. The play led to Curry in the left corner and, with two defenders rushing at him, he dumped it down to Lee, who was fouled with 1.2 seconds left.
Lee swished the first free throw. The second banged off the rim to the right