SACRAMENTO -- With word spreading about a trade sending popular teammate Kent Bazemore and fellow reserve MarShon Brooks to the Los Angeles Lakers for point guard Steve Blake just before tipoff, the Golden State Warriors had every excuse to be out of rhythm in their first game following the All-Star break.
"It became a setup game," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We could have held our heads down and got emotional before the game. But we understood that there's a job to do."
The Warriors came out strong and closed even stronger, holding off the Sacramento Kings 101-92 on Wednesday night in a game both teams played short-handed because of trades and injuries.
They began the season's stretch run by parting ways with Brooks and Bazemore, best known by fans for his animated celebrations on the bench, but also a player beloved by coaches and teammates since coming to the organization last season.
"He's been here when we were just dreaming to be good," Jackson said.
Players were told of the trade about an hour before the game, and the teams announced the deal just before halftime. Veteran swingman Andre Iguodala, in his first season with the Warriors, called Bazemore's departure "probably the first one that I've been around that was kind of emotional."
"It almost happened so close to game time," Lee added, "that we didn't have time to process it."
With both centers out with injuries and a shorter roster from trades each team made earlier in the day, the depth of the Warriors was just too much for the Kings to overcome.
Quincy Acy grabbed a career-high 12 boards to help the Kings outrebound the Warriors 49-35, but Sacramento committed 21 turnovers and faded in the closing minutes.
"We seemed hell bent on giving them as many possessions as possible," said Kings coach Michael Malone, who spent the previous two seasons as Jackson's lead assistant.
The game was played in the aftermath of a busy day for both Northern California teams.
The Kings traded guard Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn for veterans Jason Terry and Reggie Evans in the morning. Then the Warriors pulled off the deal for Blake just before the game, adding a savvy veteran behind Curry.
Andrew Bogut also missed his fifth straight game for the Warriors with a left shoulder injury. DeMarcus Cousins, who strained his left hip flexor in Sacramento's final game before the break in New York, also sat out. Both centers are day to day.
The Kings, who dropped to 0-8 without Cousins this season, still led 76-75 entering the fourth quarter. But the Warriors quickly put together a pair of scoring spurts to put the game away.
Lee converted a layup through traffic, Thompson made a 3-pointer and Iguodala hit a fadeway jumper in an 8-0 run that gave Golden State an 86-79 lead early in the fourth. After the Kings started to rally, Iguodala foundDraymond Green for a dunk, and Lee followed with a layup that put the Warriors up 94-84 with 3:28 remaining that all but sealed it.
"I thought it really showed a lot of guts," Jackson said. "They bounced back, they took the lead and we responded."
Most of the game played out in similar fashion.
The Warriors, who shot just 3 for 19 from 3-point range, went ahead by 10 points in the first quarter and 15 in the second by spreading the floor without any true centers on the court.
The Kings came back each time, though, playing just like the two-faced team they'd been before the break - prone to scintillating scoring spurts but, at times, lacking defense and discipline - that buried them at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
"We didn't really make them pay like we were supposed to," said Kings forward Rudy Gay, who scored 16 points. "I don't think we were being selfish. I think we just have to get smarter."
NOTES: Golden State is 3-0 against Sacramento this season. The teams meet for the final time this season April 4 in Oakland. ... Recently retired NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez, a former star at California, sat in a courtside seat between Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and team executive Chris Mullin. ... The Warriors are hoping Blake will be in uniform when they host Houston on Thursday night in Oakland. ... Terry and Evans should have plenty of time to make it to Sacramento before the Kings host Boston on Saturday night.