For a game that felt over before it begun, the short-handed Kings held tough against the reigning champion Golden State Warriors and the eventual 103-94 loss was much closer than the final score indicated.
With DeMarcus Cousins still hampered by his achilles strain and Darren Collison also out due to hamstring trouble, the Kings had to rely on their newly acquired depth to keep pace with Golden State. Rajon Rondo had a triple double with 12 points, 15 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals, and Marco Belinelli and Rudy Gay both finished 22 points. Kosta Koufos had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Omri Casspi added 10 points off the bench.
Reigning MVP Steph Curry also finished with 24 points to lead the Warriors, while Klay Thompson added 18 points and battletank Draymond Green had 10 points, seven assists and nine rebounds.
Sacramento kept the score close deep into the fourth quarter, but their final lead at 79-78 was crushed when Curry hit his first three of the night with 5:48 remaining. Sacramento had been outrebounding Golden State throughout the game, but the Warriors clamped down on the boards in the fourth quarter and outrebounded the Kings 17-9 in the final period.
While the Kings deserve top marks for their scrappy defensive play that limited the Warriors throughout the contest, Golden State's usually stellar offense was unusually impotent—the Warriors shot 8- 39 from three and missed a large number of open and near-open shots that would normally be easy-money for a team that had been shooting 42% on the season from deep.
Sacramento maintained the lead for much of the first quarter as the Warriors offense struggled, but the Kings starting lineup featured only Gay as a premier scorer and couldn't take advantage offensively. Coach George Karl opted for a defense heavy starting five that featured Rondo, James Anderson, Quincy Acy, Gay and Koufos, and while it showed success defensively Karl had to rotate Belinelli in quickly and often to provide some scoring help.
While the Kings already lacked offensive firepower, they doomed themselves early with terrible ball control. Sacramento finished the first half with 14 turnovers as they continually dribbled off their own feet and often telegraphed passes right into waiting Golden State defenders. On a night where the Kings brought the defensive intensity and caught the Warriors on an off-offensive night, turnovers were again their biggest non-injury weakness. The team finished the game with 22 turnovers, which led to 29 points by the Warriors.
The Kings will remain in Sacramento over the next week, but their schedule won't get much easier—the face the 4-2 San Antonio Spurs on Monday and then host the 4-1 Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
For the rival's perspective, check out Golden State Of Mind.
- Former King Jason Thompson entered into the game midway through the first to applause from the Sacramento faithful, and finished with two points and three rebounds in seven minutes for the Warriors.
- The bad news for the Kings continued beyond the contest, as Collison—who was kept out of the game due to a hamstring injury—told CSN's James Ham that an MRI on his sprained left hamstring was "not good" and he would be out "several days at minimal."
- Ben McLemore continued to sit on the bench, and while he provided some solid defense against the Warriors second unit, he showed little reason on the offensive end to be in the game—he finished with two points on 1-4 shooting in 16 minutes and also committed four turnovers. James Anderson, who started the contest, had two points and three assists on 1-3 shooting.