The Kings predictably got rocked against the Golden State Warriors in their last visit to Oracle Arena. The young team clearly was not ready to match the well-oiled machine running the Western Conference the past few seasons.
The Kings were led by a nice outing from Buddy Hield, who scored 22 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 7 assists (and only 3 turnovers!). Buddy's point total was buttressed by a couple garbage-time threes, but even with his shot off-target, he was making an impact passing the ball and hitting the glass. Skal Labissiere was on triple-double watch late in the game, scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing 8 assists. Its phenomenal progress for a young kid still learning how to play within the system. Ty Lawson scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half to pace the team.
The Kings held serve with the Warriors until halftime, but unfortunately the stark difference in talent took over afterwards. The Kings started turning the ball over leading to Warrior leakouts. The offense died after they started botching easy layups, with one coming from Buddy and a few from Kosta Koufos. The Warriors were up 20+ by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, and nobody really expected anything of note to happen.
But, that's not what played out. The Warriors bench, with a frigid cold Klay Thompson as the main offensive option, could not shake the Kings. Led by Skal, Buddy, and Ben McLemore, the Kings cut the Warriors lead down to 11, forcing Steve Kerr to go back to Steph Curry to finish the Kings off. Steph did indeed do his work, nailing three straight threes to put the Kings away for good, and that was the end of it.
The young guys review:
- Willie Cauley-Stein: Once again, showing far more refinement on the offensive end than anyone could have imagined. Unfortunately still a big disappointment on the glass. He grabbed some soaring boards, which makes you wistful about what could have been possible had Willie been born with an urgency on the glass.
- Skal Labissiere: Ran the high-post beautifully, which is the next step in his progression. Skal's the most talented kid on the roster, the only task in front of him is to implement those skills into the team concept. Near triple-double, did well on defense against a tough team to defend. Very happy with his effort.
- Buddy Hield: A new career high! The scoring in the boxscore will look better than it really was because of a couple garbage-time threes, but the rebounding and passing was legit. Buddy is already handling those pick-and-roll traps that confounded him in February so much better. Defense was a major issue tonight. The Warriors back-screen and constantly cut, and Buddy lost his man off the ball far too often. Not the first rookie to be unfocused on defense though.
- Georgios Papagiannis: Might just be the worst possible matchup in the league. Looked uncomfortable challenging David West on those little midrange pops, which has been a staple in the league for a long time. PapaG also needs major refinement in his game. He got outjumped by JaVale McGee for several key rebounds, showing a bad habit to ball-watch and rely on his natural size to grab rebounds instead of positioning and boxing out. The Kings had trouble getting the ball to him in the high post, with Zaza Pachulia riding up on every entry pass. PapaG's gotta seal him off better. Lastly, he needs to react more instinctively when scoring around the rim. He lets defenders recover when he gets the ball down low.
- Ben McLemore (I guess?): Ben helped spark a fourth quarter run that forced the Warriors to go back to Curry. Otherwise, a typical Ben night. Got destroyed by screens on the defensive end. Had a couple of ballhandling misadventures. But still looks vastly improved attacking off of curls, and his midrange game has been solid.
For the opponent’s perspective, visit Golden State of Mind