For the first half, the Sacramento Kings stayed toe-to-toe with their Northern California rivals. Unfortunately for Kings fans, the third quarter was real, and boy was it painful. Consecutive poor, sloppy plays that led to several Golden State Warriors leakouts were the main culprit in a two point halftime lead turning into a 10 point deficit. The Kings ended the night with an atrocious 26 turnovers. To be fair, the Warriors weren't exactly hitting on all cylinders either, with 22 miscues themselves. But the Warriors were far more effective in punishing the Kings after a turnover, scoring 26 points compared to the Kings' rate of 16 points, with the Warriors ultimately winning 95-77.
Sacramento never really found its offensive groove the entire game, shooting 30.8% from the field overall, and only 16.7% from three. DeMarcus Cousins had a nightmare night, missing from all over the floor to the tune of 4/14 shooting from the field. He scrapped his way to a team-leading 20 points mostly on the strength of getting to the free throw line. Cousins was 12/18 from the line and got seemingly the entire Warriors front line in foul trouble. Bogut's presence inside was a huge factor in Cousins' early struggles, but it wasn't just Bogut. Cousins was not effective against any defender the Warriors threw out.
Cousins' Team USA teammate, Rudy Gay, didn't fare much better. 14 points on 5/15 shooting and 0/2 from three. Rudy had particular struggles with shot selection, often being forced into tough, contested long twos and suffered from a severe case of tunnel vision, missing shooters spotting up and selfishly driving into traffic. We need better decision-making from our #2 man.
On a brighter note, the defense was a definite bright spot in the first game. The Warriors were missing David Lee, so the Kings made the commitment of swarming Golden State shooters at the three point line knowing nobody in the Warriors' front line could really punish them inside. The Warriors ended up shooting 44.0% from the field (22.2% from three), but that was boosted by a few garbage time points when the game was out of hand. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were able to get theirs (24 points on 7/17 shooting and 19 points on 4/14 shooting respectively)
Another among the bright spots was Nik Stauskas' NBA debut. The numbers look ugly (3/10 overall, 2/7 from three) but he came out confident and looked like he belonged. Unfortunately, the starter at the position, Ben McLemore, started off the 2014/2015 campaign with a bagel in the boxscore.
For the opponent's perspective, be sure to check out Golden State of Mind.
- There was a stretch in the third quarter where it felt like the Kings didn't even get a shot off. It was turnover after turnover, leading to layup after layup.
- Ramon Sessions in particular was awful in this stretch, with three straight turnovers just credited to him. And zero assists overall; his decision-making was really bad all night. Several times he would try to set up Reggie Evans facing up 16 feet from the basket, once even with five seconds left on the clock. Not the most sterling line from our backup PG. We need Sessions to be better; if he is, between him, Landry and Stauskas our bench has the ability to pack some serious punch.
- Landry looked good out there. Attacked the offensive glass HARD, grabbing five offensive boards and mixing it up in the paint.
- Malone subbed a dizzying amount of substitutes at the end of the third trying to stop the bleeding. Omri Casspi was thrown out there after failing to get off the bench in the first half and played three different positions. Reggie Evans disappeared after halftime.
- For some reason, the Kings have had issues inbounding the ball. Several five second violations and over-and-back violations underscored the team's inability to deal with the Warriors' pressure
- Ben McLemore had an awful night offensively, but defensively really stuck to Klay. Was a big factor in Klay struggling from the field.
- Strange moment of co-celebration between Kings fans and Warriors fans when the Giants closed out the World Series. Probably the loudest cheer of the night. Can't blame the crowd though, good defense doesn't exactly lend itself to cheers.
Hey guys, I've been a Sactown Royalty regular for years now. You might know me as Scirocco, but I look forward to having fun writing the recaps for the rest of the year and commiserating in the Kings successes and failures. Here's to a good year!