SACRAMENTO –- One night after the Warriors put up a 24-minute monument to artistry in Oakland, they delivered some seriously burnt toast in Sacramento.
Andre Iguodala came off the bench spreading enough butter to make it edible.
Iguodala, in his typically understated way, was masterful in taking the Warriors home with a 103-94 victory over the pesky Sacramento Kings before a crowd with very divided loyalties at Sleep Train Arena.
“It doesn’t always show up in the box score every night,” Klay Thompson said, “but he’s one of the most important players on this team.”
This was one of those nights in which the box score told a fairly accurate story. Iguodala finished with 14 points (on 6-of-8 shooting), six rebounds, four assists and four steals. He was plus-23 in the +/- column, vastly superior to any other Warrior.
Asked about Iguodala’s impact, forward Draymond Green minced no words, saying the veteran wing did “everything” for a team that was struggling.
“He was amazing tonight,” Green said. “In the first half, he came in and pushed the tempo for us. In the second half, he made big plays for us. Everything.”
Yet nobody appreciated Iguodala more than Steph Curry. Though he finished with a game-high 24 points, the reigning MVP was one of many Warriors often unable to find the bottom of the net. He missed his first eight 3-pointers and finished the game 2-of-10 from deep.
Curry, who has done most of the heavy lifting thus far this season, needed a night off -– relatively speaking -– and Iguodala filled in splendidly.
“He was huge,” Curry said of his teammate. “In a game this ugly and he influences it so positively, that just shows the kind of player he is. He can do pretty much everything. An efficient night, played solid defense, led our break and got the game to our pace at times, so he was big.”
Iguodala’s impact was evident from the moment he stepped onto the court with 4:43 left in the first quarter. The Warriors were trailing 9-6 -– honestly -– and it looked as they were trying to shoot the ball through the eye of a needle. Iguodala checked in, and the Warriors outscored the Kings 14-5 over the final 4:43 of the quarter.
That set the tone. He was going to strap his teammates to his back and carry them. If help came, and some eventually did, so be it.
“Andre was huge,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “He seems to really play well when we need him to, and he just did that again tonight.”
How bad did the Warriors need somebody to provide a boost? Harrison Barnes shot 4-of-17, Festus Ezeli 3-of-9, Leandro Barbosa 2-of-7. Though Curry (8-of-18) and Thompson (7-of-16) were decent, the number of open shots they missed was nothing less than astonishing.
“We were playing hard,” Walton said. “We were completely OK with the effort our guys were putting out there. We had some wide-open looks that just wouldn’t drop for us -– and not just one or two guys.”
The starting lineup shot 3-of-25 from deep through three quarters and finished at 8-of-39 (20.5 percent). They committed 18 turnovers. The Warriors, for most of the night, looked like a team that had played the night before, which they had, and the afternoon of, which they had not.
“Pretty much everybody out there was struggling to get their shot going,” Walton said. “Whether that’s mental fatigue or just one of those random nights, I’m not sure.”
Iguodala rendered the failures meaningless. The Warriors are now 7-0, the best start in the franchise’s Bay Area history. They extended their win streak over their NorCal competitors to nine.
After playing a marvelous first half and holding on to win Friday night, they proved on Saturday night that, once again, they’re good enough to win when not at their best –- as long as at least one player on their roster has a fabulous game.