SACRAMENTO – A coach for the first time in nearly 30 years affiliated with the NBA, Steve Kerr walked off the floor without a voice. He left it on the floor of Sleep Train Arena, among the gallons of sweat dropped by his team.
The Warriors gave their coach plenty reasons to shout Wednesday night. They fussed and fumbled on offense. They often forgot to rebound. They shot 41 percent in the first half, 31.6 in the second quarter.
If Andrew Bogut didn't already have a migraine – which delayed by an hour his arrival to the arena – portions of this game might have given him one.
But with a little third-quarter tinkering by Kerr, as well as the thinnest rumor of competition offered by the comically inept Kings, the Warriors eventually found a way to rescue themselves.
The Warriors' season-opening 95-77 win over Sacramento was won on the power of a single spurt, five splendid minutes during which they outscored the Kings 19-2 to swap a three-point deficit (54-51) for a 14-point cushion (70-56).
"It was ugly – real ugly," said forward Draymond Green, who started for an ailing David Lee. "They were ugly. We were ugly. Both teams were just ugly.
"It came down to that one run. That's where we separated ourselves, and they were never really able to get back. Those are the games that you have to win. A lot of times last year, sometimes we would struggle with those."
Oh, they struggled plenty prior to that game-changing stretch. Unhappy with the sluggish pace, Kerr called a timeout and turned to a small lineup that featured Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at guards, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes at forwards and the 6-foot-7 Green at center. All five are between 6-3 and 6-8.
"That group is so versatile," Kerr rasped. "You've got guys who are like-sized. Draymond, Andre, Klay, Harrison – they can all switch. So immediately, the pace was back in our favor.
"We went to that lineup for pace. That's always going to be an option for us. That's the beauty of having this roster. I can't believe how lucky I am, with my first team to have this type of versatility and tough-minded guys. They all contributed."
Kerr played 12 players, including four minutes from Shaun Livingston, who never saw the floor in preseason while recovering from surgery on his right big toe.
Curry, Thompson and Marreese Speights accounted for 59 of their points, while Green and Curry accounted for 20 of their 44 rebounds. Bogut was limited to 18 minutes.
The Warriors, knowing they were not at their best, were delighted to get out of Sacramento with a victory – even the coach was voiceless.
"Now I know why (Bulls coach) Tom Thibodeau talks like this," Kerr said. "My voice is shot.
"I always laughed at (Clippers coach Doc Rivers) and Thibodeau. Now it all makes sense. I got nothing left."
Well, he has his first victory. If the game itself was forgettable, the night was not.
THE GOOD: Speights provided a nice lift off the bench, particularly in the first half, when he put in 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. On a night without Lee and with precious little from Bogut, Speights came up huge.
"He really kept us in the game when everybody was struggling," Green said.
Curry and Thompson were aggressive in the paint, forcing the action. Neither shot particularly well from the floor, but Curry shot nine free throws and Thompson 10.
Curry had a nice comprehensive stat sheet: 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, six steals.
Barnes finished well, making his last three shots, including a couple post-ups.
THE BAD: There were plenty of times it was painfully evident that this offense is a work in progress. Conceptually, there is no standing around. There was, at times, a lot of standing around.
Conceptually, there are no ill-advised shots. There were numerous ill-advised shots.
Barnes had a horrible start, going 0-for-7 on a variety of layups, dunks and open jumpers.
THE TAKE: From the start, it appeared Bogut's sluggishness may have adversely affected the offensive rhythm. He has a much bigger role, and he wasn't up to it. So the Warriors turned to Green and Speights, who delivered.
The defense looked good. The numbers were good. But the Kings were just awful, with Sacramento head coach Michael Malone referring to them turning into the "Keystone Cops" during that third-quarter stretch.
There are nights when you shine, and nights when you survive. The Warriors managed the latter, but they have to know they were fortunate to be facing the Kings.