Shorthanded Warriors make it look easy, beat Orlando 103-89

By Gabe Schapiro

No Andrew Bogut or Andre Iguodala? No problem. The Golden State Warriors (43-26) didn’t skip a beat despite two of their starters being out with injuries, easily beating the Orlando Magic (19-49) 103-89, Tuesday night, at Oracle Arena. Orlando has struggled mightily this season, but when Bogut and Iguodala were ruled out, the defensive backbones of the team, there is no doubt that it had some nervous for this one. Those concerns were fairly quickly put to rest, however, as all three of Golden State’s other starters picked up the slack. After the first quarter, this contest was rarely ever in any doubt.

The game started as a bit of a dogfight, in a tightly played opening frame that saw 13 lead changes. After 12 minutes the Warriors exited from the fray with a slim three-point advantage. There wouldn’t be another lead change the rest of the way.

Golden State slowly started pulling away from the Magic, and really slammed the door shut in a big third quarter, which saw them outscore Orlando 30-19.  The end of the bench saw some action late, as they eased to the victory.

It was nearly all good signs from the Dubs on this night. It was 14 minutes into the contest before they committed their first turnover. It was the third quarter before they missed their first free throw.

The three normal Warriors starters who did play in this one all had very strong games. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and David Lee finished with 23, 20, and 20 points respectively. Lee finished with a double-double, adding 10 rebounds to his line. Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes got the starting nod in the place of their injured stars, and while both struggled offensively, they chipped in in other ways. Green hauled in nine boards, dished out three assists, and had two steals. Barnes had five rebounds and three assists.

Golden State’s bench, which saw a little extra play tonight, had a strong game as well, particularly Mareese Speights and Steve Blake. Speights hasn’t played much recently, but clearly came in ready to go. He contributed 13 points, eight rebounds, and a block in 23 minutes. Blake also put up double-digit points, finishing with 12 to go along with four assists.

In the loss five Orlando players finished in double figures. Nikola Vucevic led the way with a team-high 15 points. Tobias Harris performed admirably off the bench, adding 14 points and a team-high six rebounds. Their backcourt really struggled, combining for just eight points.

The Warriors have now won two straight, and will look to make it three this Thursday, when they will be taking on the Milwaukee Bucks. The game starts at 7:30 PM, at Oracle Arena.

Lee led Warriors earn ugly win, outlast Rockets in OT, 102-99

By Gabe Schapiro

The Golden State Warriors (33-22) didn’t always make it look pretty, but as the saying goes, a win is a win. On Thursday night, at Oracle Arena, they beat the Houston Rockets (37-18) for the first time this season, 102-99, in overtime. Both offenses struggled for much of the game, in what often came down to isolation plays for James Harden against isolation plays for David Lee. When the dust settled, Golden State had grinded out a tough win.

The Warriors had their customary slow start to the game. Through 12 minutes of play they only trailed by four, but had only gotten eight points from their starters, compared to 12 points from their bench. Both teams were plagued by bad turnovers, miscues, and missed open looks.

The Dubs rebounded a bit in the second, turning the four point deficit into a four-point lead at halftime. Surprisingly the two foes star guards, Stephen Curry and Harden, had extremely quiet starts. Heading into the locker rooms they had only accounted for five points apiece. They would both come alive in the stretch run.

The sloppy but close play continued. Heading into the fourth quarter Golden State held on to their four-point lead, but it wasn’t a lead they held with confidence. Sure enough, in the fourth the Rockets clawed their way back, tying the game back up halfway through the quarter. In the waning minutes the two sides traded blows. Harden made one of his many big shots, a 23-foot jumper with 6 seconds left, to give Houston an 89-87 lead. Curry responded with a beauty of his own, a left-handed floater in traffic that arced over the skyscraper that is Dwight Howard, and sent the game into overtime.

In extra time, Curry again came up big and gave Golden State the quick lead with a three-pointer, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Jermaine O’Neal, starting in the place of the still injured Andrew Bogut, had the play of the game. With 23 seconds left in OT, the Rockets’ Chandler Parsons drove hard to the basket, and O’Neal elevated to meet him at the basket and ferociously blocked the shot.

Curry made four of four free throws, and Draymond Green made two more, to ice the victory in the waning seconds.

Curry made the big shots late, but it was Lee who was practically the entire Warriors offense for long stretches of the game. He finished with a team-high 28 points, to go along with 14 rebounds. Curry’s strong second half gave him 25 points and six assists.

Iguodala had a relatively quiet night outside of some big points in OT, but still filled up the stat sheet. He compiled 11 points, eight boards, and seven assists. Guard Steve Blake made his debut in a Golden State uniform after the trade that sent him over from the Los Angeles Lakers, and he finished with three points, two rebounds, and one assist in 18 minutes off the bench.

For Houston, Harden led the way with a game-high 39 points, 34 of which came in the second half and overtime. Chandler Parsons had a strong game, adding 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Dwight Howard had a dismal shooting night, hitting just 4-13 shots, but made his impact felt with 21 rebounds and four blocks.

The Warriors are back in action this Saturday, when the Brooklyn Nets come to town. The game begins at 7:30 PM.

Lee, Warriors roll past Kings

By Joe Hawkes

SACRAMENTO — With the All-Star break a thing of the past, the stretch run towards the playoffs has officially begun.

The Golden State Warriors know that very well.

With center Andrew Bogut sitting out his fifth-straight game with a left shoulder injury, the Warriors needed a late Andre Iguodala three-point play to cruise to a 101-92 victory over the Kings Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.

Golden State (32-22), had five players score in double figures, led by David Lee’s 23 points and 11 rebounds. Lee recorded his 17th 20 point/10 rebound game of the season. Klay Thompson (18 points) and Stephen Curry (13 points,) combined to shoot 11-for-28 from the field (2-for-7 from 3-point range).

Iguodala finished with 13 points, Draymond Green scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Jordan Crawford got the bench really rolling with 10 points in nine minutes in the first quarter.

The telling part of the game was how the Warriors passed the ball tremendously with 26 assists and only seven turnovers. Those numbers were instrumental in Golden State holding a 52-5 edge on fast break points. Curry finished with a team-high eight assists.

Isaiah Thomas had 26 points and seven assists, Travis Outlaw finished with 18 points off the bench, and Rudy Gay scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds (four offensive) for Sacramento (18-35), who played without star center DeMarcus Cousins who sat out with a left hip flexor he injured in the Kings’ final game before the All-Star break.

Quincy Acy pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds.

Sacramento erased a 15-point deficit before taking their first lead in the third quarter at 76-75 behind Thomas’s 12 points in the quarter, but Sacramento couldn’t stop Lee and the Warriors in the fourth quarter, with the Warriors out-scoring the Kings 26-16.

As the 3:00 p.m. EST trade deadline looms, both the Warriors and Kings pulled off trades, but the Warriors trade was the biggest to boot.

Sacramento shipped swingman Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn for veteran shooting guard Jason Terry and power forward Reggie Evans early Wednesday, while Golden State waved good-bye to Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks and acquired reliable point guard Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers just before tip-off.

Golden State used their $4 million trade exception that the team received from Denver in the Iguodala deal last summer to absorb Blake’s remaining $4 million salary in the final year of his deal to complete the trade, according to Associated Press. The Warriors are hoping that the acquisition of Blake and Jordan Crawford earlier in the season from Boston, will allow the team to pull back on both Curry and Thompson’s minutes.

In 27 starts for the Lakers, Blake 9.5 points and a career-high 7.6 assists a game this season. Clearly the addition of Blake strengthens the bench, which has clearly been one of the weakest in the league this season.

It’s unclear if Blake will suit up Thursday night when the Warriors play host to the visiting Houston Rockets, who destroyed the Lakers 134-108 at Staples Center Wednesday night.

With the win over Sacramento, Golden State improves to 3-0 over the Kings this season.

Kings Fold in the Fourth; Lose to Lakers 106-100

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Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Kings lost at home on Friday night to the Los Angeles Lakers 106-100. It was game they did not have to lose. It was a game the Kings should have won.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said one word was on his mind, “discipline. And, we had none in this game tonight.”

Turnovers and lack of defense in the fourth quarter led to the Kings defeat. The Kings turned to ball over five times in the final period. The Lakers outscored the Kings 25-13 in fourth. That lack of discipline cost Sacramento the 87-81 lead they had after three periods of play.

The game started slow for the Kings. It looked like they might fall back into their habit of falling seriously behind and then having to play catch up later in the game. With 3:19 to play in the first, Isaiah Thomas came into the game for Vasquez and the Kings’ tempo changed dramatically. They went from trailing the Lakers by seven to leading the game by two points (30-28) by the end of the quarter. The crowd knew their team could win the game if they continued to play at that level.

In the second quarter, Thomas continued to lead the way. He played the entire 12 minutes, scored 10 points and dished out three assists. The problem for the Kings became their shot selection and shooting percentage. Sacramento’s field goal shooting dropped to 36.0% (9/25) while the Lakers shot 50.0%. The Kings managed to outscore the Lakers 25-24 in the quarter and took a 55-52 lead with them to locker room at the half.

The Kings came out in the third quarter ready to do battle. They established an eight point lead (68-60) by the 7:39 mark in the period. Then with 6:39 to play, DeMarcus Cousins picked up his fourth personal foul which would ultimately have a dramatic impact on the game as he had to sit on the bench. The rest of the Kings went to work picking up the slack. When Ben McLemore hit back-to-back 3-pointers, it looked like the Kings were poised to beat the Lakers. When the quarter ended, the score was the Kings 87 and the Lakers 81.

Then came the disastrous fourth quarter and the Kings shot just 23.5% (4/17). Isaiah Thomas was 0/4, Cousins was 0/4 and Williams 0/1 from the field. Sacramento turned the ball over five times. They allowed the Lakers to steal the ball five times in the period. The Lakers outscored the Kings 25-13. The Kings ran out of gas, things got ugly and they lost the game 106-100.

“Obviously this isn’t what we worked on, diagrammed or hoped for,” said Michael Malone. “It’s obvious that we have to do a lot more. I thought we had great late-game execution against Golden State. We got whatever we wanted, we scored, and we executed. Tonight, down the stretch, we turned the ball over on almost every possession. It was very disappointing, obviously. We’ll have another chance tomorrow in Utah and we need to regroup to find a way to get a road win.”

DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore led all scorers in the game with 20 points each. Isaiah Thomas tallied 14 points before going cold in the fourth quarter. John Salmons added 13 points; Williams and Thompson had nine points each.

Cousins made it a double-double game with his 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points each. Nick Young scored 14, Wesley Johnson and Steve Blake 13 each and Robert Sacre added 11 points.  Blake posted a double-double by adding 10 assists.

The Kings boarded a plane for Salt Lake City after the game. They will play the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. The Jazz were destroyed by the Trail Blazers on Friday night 130-97. On paper, the Kings should have real chance to defeat the Jazz, but that’s on paper. The reality is the game is on road versus a team that is just as hungry for a win as are the Kings.