Photo credit: @warriors
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Warriors, playing the first game in a week due to the All-Star break, had their hands full as they were able to stop the Kings on the last play of the game to win. The Kings, coached by Dave Joerger, are not the Kings of old. They are a good young team of gifted athletes that are on the rise. They have drafted players that are speedy, have size, and can score. They are good inside and have players that can make three-point shots. They took the 6-foot-11 forward Marvin Bagley III in the first round of the draft. Bagley was one and done at Duke, and the 19-year-old rookie is making his presence felt. Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox are young and improving. The Kings traded for the veteran forward Harrison Barnes. They acquired Harry Giles, who is 6-foot-10, and Alec Burks. They signed Corey Brewer to a 10-day contract. These players are making the Kings so much better. However, they were playing the defending the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors. Thursday night’s game was the fourth and final game between the two teams during the regular season, and it was not easy for the Warriors, but they were able to hold off the Kings to sweep the season series. The Warriors won the game 125-123.
The Warriors won the first quarter 35-30. It was a fast-paced first quarter. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant led the team to the early first quarter advantage. The Kings turned the tables in the second quarter as they outscored the Warriors 32-25 to finish the first half leading 62-60. The Kings led 54-43 until the Warriors went on a 10-0 run. Steph made two three-pointers in the run to get the Warriors closer to the lead. The Kings increased the lead to six, but Durant and Klay Thompson made key buckets to get the Warriors closer.
Each team tallied 29 points in the third quarter and the score at the end of the quarter was 91-89 in favor of Sacramento. The Kings led for the entire quarter. They led by seven 91-84, but Durant scored the last five points of the period. He made a bucket to make it 91-86 and then hit a three as the buzzer sounded to close the quarter trailing 91-89.
DeMarcus Cousins scored four points to start the fourth quarter and put Golden State ahead 93-91. Cousins made two free throws and a bucket. The Kings came back to tie the score at 96. Draymond Green made a three, but the Kings countered with a three of their own to tie at 99. The lead changed hands a couple of time and tied at 104. Curry made a three and Thompson followed with a two-point bucket to give the Warriors a 109-104 advantage. They went up by six when Curry hit another three to lead 117-111. The Kings’ Buddy Hield knocked down a three. Thompson responded with a three of his own, and the Warriors led 120-114 with 1:11 left to play. On the next play, it appeared that Green stripped Bagley driving to the basket. The referee tagged Green with a foul. Green couldn’t believe the call and he sprinted to the other end of the court to avoid being charged with a technical foul. His histrionics didn’t help him as he was charged with a technical. Bagley made all three free throws, and the Kings were still alive. Thompson made a mid-range jumper to increase the lead to five. Buddy Hield knocked down another three to make it 123-120. Hield then fouled Curry in the backcourt. Curry made both free throws. The Kings came back with another three to rail by two with 7.4 seconds left. The Warriors almost turned the ball over as Curry had trouble handling the ball on the inbound pass. Somehow, he was able to get the ball to Andre Iguodala. Iguodala was fouled attempting a reverse layup and was awarded two free throws. If Iguodala made both free throws, the game would have been over. He missed both and Sacramento took time out with 6.5 seconds to play. Their strategy was to inbound the ball to Buddy Hield and have him take a three-point shot for the win. The Kings got the ball to Hield, who was open. He did not take the shot, but opted to drive to the basket and make a mid-range jumper to tie the score and send the game to overtime. The Warriors defense rose to the challenge and the best Hield could do was shoot an airball that landed in Kevin Durant’s hands. The Warriors escaped with a thrilling 125-123 win over the Kings.
Game Notes and Stats: With the win, the Warriors improve to 42-16. The Kings drop to 30-28. The Kings are in a race with the LA Clippers and LA Lakers for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs. If the Kings finish eighth and the Warriors first, the two teams will meet in the opening round of the playoffs. The Warriors outscored the Kings by just 12 points to win all four games. The Warriors would have their hands full if that were to occur.
All five Warrior starters were in double figures. Curry led the team with 36 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Curry made 10 three-point shots. It was the 14th time in his career that he made 10 or more three-point shots in a game and the fifth time this season. Durant had 28 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, and a tied a career-high with seven blocked shots. Cousins had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Thompson had a tough night as he was 4 for 12 until late in the game. He finished with 18 and made two clutch threes down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Green had 12 points, 6 boards, 8 assists, and knocked down three threes in five tries.
The Kings had seven players in double figure. Marvin Bagley, coming off the bench, led Sacramento with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Buddy Hield had 19, Harrison Barnes 13, De’Aaron Fox 18, Willie Cauley-Stein 10, Bogdan Bogdanovic 14. Veteran forward Corey Brewer had 11, and he made three threes to keep Sacramento in the game.
The Warriors defense held the Kings to 43.4% from the floor. The Warriors had 6 steals and blocked 12 shots. The Warriors committed 11 turnovers in the first half and that cost them 14 points. They focused on protecting the ball in the second half and were able to limit the turnovers to four.
Up Next: The Warriors face the Houston Rockets Saturday night at Oracle Arena. The Rockets lost to the Lakers Thursday night. Game time will be at 5:30 pm.