Most everyone was wrong.
The Warriors played another lethargic game in Sacramento, making terrible turnovers and poor decisions that allowed the Kings to remain in the game. Whether by virtue of the sheer talent disparity between the two teams or some luck (the Kings missed quite a few good looks at shots that would have made things even tighter), the Warriors were able to get the victory, winning 119-104.
This was the ugliest game played by the Warriors in a while
Even though they won the game by 15 points, the Warriors did not play well. In fact, they played pretty terribly for most of the game.
This manifested itself most prominently in (where else?) turnovers. The Warriors gave the ball away 25 times, one shy of their season-high 26 turnovers against the Detroit Pistons. Luckily, the Kings were only able to turn those extra possessions into 19 points — or else this could have been a very different game.
Some of this had to do with the Warriors players that missed Friday night’s game and what exactly they bring to the team.
It's different when they don't have Iguodala, West and Livingston.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 3, 2018
Without Andre Iguodala, David West and Shaun Livingston, the Warriors did not have three of their veterans and, most likely, the steadiest players on the team. Because of that, an uptick in turnovers and sloppier play was not all that surprising.
But what seems even more to blame is the Warriors’ overall energy level. The team is running on fumes, looking ahead to the All-Star break and, thus, not focusing on the tasks at hand.
Right now, the Warriors are the basketball equivalent of a class during its last few meetings before Spring Break. The students aren’t paying attention, they’re not participating in discussion and they are just sitting there. They’ve zoned out on their lessons, while mentally planning what they’re going to do with their time off.
Things will get better once everyone’s back from the break and ready to make the final push towards the end of the semester. But those classes right before Spring Break, with all the fun and not-working so tantalizingly close? Those ones can be rough.
Realizing this and thinking about it in this way doesn’t make it any easier to watch as a fan. The team should not be too complacent either since the Houston Rockets are nipping at their heels for the number-one seed in the Western Conference. But I do think it’s worth thinking about things in the pre-Spring Break way before we all start to worry about the Warriors this season.
Steve Kerr addressed this mentality and the way it was plaguing the Warriors during his postgame press conference.
Steve Kerr sensed team is waiting for the All-Star break. Only problem: that’s two weeks away pic.twitter.com/Q2zEoAcBDv— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 3, 2018
Pachulia and McGee make positive contributions
There were a couple of positives to be found amidst the hideousness for the Warriors. The Warriors got nice performances out of two players that don’t usually get to shine— JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia.
This was actually McGee’s second quality performance in a row, this time in a Warriors’ victory. Though he only scored four points, McGee provided energy off the bench, particularly during a first-quarter run that allowed the Warriors to turn a 13-point Kings’ lead into a two-point advantage.
McGee also blocked two Kings’ shots, and played good defense for most of his time on the court. Once again, it was nice to see McGee getting some playing time after seeing his minutes so dramatically decrease this season.
The other Warriors’ player who had a standout night was another big man — starting center Pachulia. Pachulia scored eight points, with six coming in that first quarter, during which the Kings jumped out to a big lead before the Warriors clawed back into the game.
Pachulia also pulled down a season-high 13 rebounds, more than holding his own against the still-physical Zach Randolph (who lead the Kings with 17 points on Friday night).
With West missing the game and Jordan Bell still out of the lineup, it made sense that McGee and Pachulia saw their minutes increase and both big men made the most of their increased playing time.
An impressive three-point shooting display from Durant
After a couple rough performances lately (a win against the Celtics and the blowout loss to the Jazz), Kevin Durant played like himself again, against the Kings. Durant scored a game-high 33 points, including going six-for-seven from three-point range. Here’s one of those six buckets from long distance.
Durant struggled with his three-point shot in the past two games so it was good to see him get back on track. Durant was also the beneficiary of a Draymond Green-assisted alley-oop dunk in the second quarter.
It was a pretty impressive play, with Green fitting the ball into a pretty narrow spot and Durant throwing it down despite the presence of Bogdan Bogdanovic putting a hand up and contesting the play.
To be certain, Durant did not play a perfect game. He was responsible for five of the Warriors’ turnovers against the Kings. Durant and Green (who also had five turnovers) were the two players who looked the most out of sync and prone to mental mistakes against the Kings.
Durant’s defense was lax at times, allowing rookie Justin Jackson to get open for shots on his way to 17 points. But even though he made quite a few silly decisions and had a few defensive lapses, Durant’s outside shooting more than made up for it as he was a large part of why the Warriors won this game.
The continuing struggles of the Warriors’ bench
While McGee and Kevon Looney played well off the bench against the Kings, the Warriors’ bench wing players did not have such a good night. Both Patrick McCaw and Omri Casspi had nights to forget, continuing each player’s respective run of poor play.
McCaw went scoreless for his second consecutive game while Casspi scored just two points. Both players hesitated to shoot and, when they did, pressed themselves into bad shots.
Though they found other ways to make positive contributions (McCaw’s three steals come to mind), both players were tough to keep on the court — and would not have seen much game action if Golden State had had its full complement of players.
The one bench wing player who did play well Friday was Nick Young, who scored 12 points by shooting four-for-six from long distance.
Though his defense was suspect at times, Young still provided the Warriors with scoring off of the bench — knocking down the wide-open three-point shots that the Warriors’ four All-Stars created just by being on the court.
Young might not be doing this at quite the level or frequency that fans want (especially given the contract he signed this past off-season), but right now he’s the Warriors’ most consistent scoring option off the bench, especially from three-point range.
Making sure to show Steph a little love too
On the same day his wife announced she was pregnant with their third child, Stephen Curry turned in a 23-point performance that would be notable for just about any other player but has become par for the course for him. It took Curry a little while to get going against the Kings; he missed quite a few shots early in the game (including some wide-open ones). But eventually his shots started falling and we saw the kind of play from Curry that we’re used to seeing.
If one were trying to spin this game in a more positive light, they might say that even though the Warriors played as awfully as a team could, they still won the game by 15 points.
But it was still a second consecutive ragged performance for the Warriors as they continue to struggle with this mid-season malaise.
Who was the Warrior Wonder for the win in Sacramento?
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