The slightly-shorthanded Golden State Warriors defeated the severely short-handed Sacramento Kings, 113-98, in a sloppy, up-and-down game. Steph Curry led the way with 30 points, scoring 15 in the 4th quarter after starting off ice-cold from long-range. Starting lineup replacement Damion Lee made his first five shots, finishing with 18 points on highly efficient 7-8 shooting, while Tyrese Haliburton kept the Kings in the game with 24 points and 11 assists. Buddy Hield went scoreless in the first half, but came alive and terrorized the Warriors in the third quarter, hitting six second-half three-pointers. The Kings fought back and briefly took the lead in the third quarter, but shutdown defense and an extended Curry flurry put the game away in the 4th.
Draymond Green had a triple-double by the end of the third quarter, inspired by the presence of his son on the sidelines. He finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, plus two steals and two blocks, throwing down a big two-handed dunk in the 4th quarter and forcing a big three-seconds violation. In addition, Draymond Junior starred on the sidelines, distributing masks and towels to the Warriors’ bench like a tiny sideline concierge. He also showed off some sweet dance moves on the sidelines.
The COVID health and safety protocols forced changes to both teams’ starting lineups. For the Warriors, the absence of Jordan Poole and vaccine skeptic Andrew Wiggins meant that Damion Lee and Jonathan Kuminga started their second straight games. For Sacramento, seven players were out, including point guard De’Aaron Fox and center Richaun Holmes, meaning Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson received rare starts. The Kings were also missing head coach Alvin Gentry, who was replaced by first-year assistant Doug Christie. Marvin Bagley III also went in the protocol, right after the fourth-year forward had finally returned to the Kings’ rotation after Luke Walton’s firing
Both teams played like they were missing a lot of guys early on. The Kings turned it over repeatedly in the first quarter and made only one of their first ten shots. But the Warriors failed to take advantage, throwing the ball away themselves. They led by ten with 4:33 left, but a Chimezie Metu scoring explosion kept the Kings in the game.
They did get a few transition buckets, especially after Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala came in.
Still, the Warriors couldn’t put Sacramento away, despite the Kings’ struggles. It looked like the Kings were on the ropes, especially when they closed the first half on a 10-3 run, stretching the lead to 58-46. But the third quarter, normally the Warriors’ favorite time of the game, got away from them this time. Hield starting nailing shots (five threes in the period!), Warriors legend Harrison “The Black Falcon” Barnes banked in a three, and the turnover bug returned at the worst possible time for Golden State.
After Otto Porter Jr. got called for a foul on an attempted block, two Chimeze Metu free throws cut the lead to three, 73-70. An ugly Andre Iguodala shot followed, but Payton snagged the offensive rebound and drew a foul. After two more bricks from Green and Iguodala, respectively, the Kings tied it up at 74-all, completing a 15-3 run. Porter hit a three, but Buddy Hield’s three-pointer gave Sacramento their first lead of the night.
Then Gary Payton stepped in again. He got an and-one on a break, hit the free throw, then followed it by putting in his own alley-oop miss. Young Glove almost pushed things further after one of his signature end-of-quarter steals, but Chris Chiozza’s shot was too late.
Steve Kerr took Curry out with 3:46 to go in the quarter, earlier than his normal routine, but clearly the extended rest rejuvenated him. Curry scored the first eight Warriors points of the quarter, then assisted on a Draymond Green dunk, then an Iguodala three-pointer. When Green forced a three-seconds violation and Curry followed with a layup, the Warriors were up ten and the game was no longer in doubt. Of course, they scored seven more points after forcing a Kings timeout just to salt it away some more.
Porter and Iguodala both had impressive games off the bench, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively and logging plus-minuses of +13 and +16. Iguodala also had the pass of the night, whipping a no-look pass to Porter after Steph Curry got it to Andre with an excellent pass of his own.
Kuminga didn’t continue his hot outside shooting, but he did score early in transition. It was a fairly solid start for the rookie - solid defense on Barnes, +7 on the night - but his lower back tightened up and he never returned after the six-minute mark of the 1st.
The Warriors improved to 25-6 and 15-2 at home. They’ll get two days off before facing their new archrivals, the Memphis Grizzlies, Thursday night.