SACRAMENTO – With the Warriors facing four games in five nights, this victory went wonderfully, as if scripted by coach Steve Kerr and his staff.
The Warriors took the court Tuesday at Sleep Train Arena hoping to win handily enough to save plenty of energy for the Dallas Mavericks, who visit Oracle Arena Wednesday night, followed by road games at Atlanta and New York.
And so it was done. The Warriors fell behind early but then roared back, blowing past Sacramento late in the first quarter and using their bench to maintain control the rest of the way in a 121-96 romp.
"That was a great one," Kerr said with a wide grin. "The biggest thing is how the guys off the bench came in in the second and the fourth quarters and just took over."
The Warriors (38-8) trailed by as much as 10 (20-10) in the first quarter before Kerr turned to his bench. It was 20-14 when he summoned Andre Iguodala for Harrison Barnes. A little over a minute later, David Lee replaced Draymond Green. Less than a minute after that, Klay Thompson gave way to Leandro Barbosa. In the final minute of quarter, Marreese Speights entered for Andrew Bogut.
From the first sub to the last of the quarter, the Warriors outscored the Kings 15-2. And when Livingston replaced Curry at the start of the second quarter, the Warriors went on a 15-5 run, going up 44-27 and essentially putting away the game.
"For our second unit to go out there and really close the game out, that was huge," Green said.
"It wasn't just the points," Kerr said. "It was the defense. They were really focused and intent on being solid. The last part of the first quarter and the early part of the second, we really shut them down defensively and that's what turned the tide of the game."
The Warriors reserves outscored the Kings reserves 61-12, in the process pushing the team's record to 22-0 when it outscores the opposing bench. Taking a longer view, the Warriors swept the Kings (4-0) for the second consecutive season.
The NorCal rivalry is not much of a rivalry anymore.
"Anytime you can sweep any team, that's special," Green said. "That doesn't happen often in the NBA, period. So any time you can sweep any team . . . all the Northern California stuff is cool, but when you can sweep anybody two years in a row, that means a lot in itself."
How many ways did the Warriors dominate? The won the rebounding battle (49-34), had a better field-goal percentage (50.5 to 44.3) and a better assists-to-turnover ratio (33-11 to 17-18).
This was that rare game in which the reserves outscored the starters, even if by only 1 point.
"We're deeper than any team in the league, so our goal is to come off and really make a difference, to make some headway for our team," Lee said. "When we came in, we were down a couple points when both teams subbed and we just tried to make a run."
That they did. And it was one the Kings won't soon forget, one the Warriors surely will appreciate when they enter the locker room Wednesday to face the Mavericks.
Speights, who did not play at all in a win over the Suns on Saturday, resumed his 'Mo Buckets' persona, scoring 17 points in 21 minutes on 8-of-13 shooting.
Twelve different Warriors played, and 11 of them scored. Moreover, all 11 grabbed at least one rebound and nine recorded an assist. Curry led in scoring (23) and assists (nine).
The Warriors' four-game sweep of the Kings came with an average win margin of 22 points.
Not much to see here, folks, unless you want to make a big deal about Curry's 6-of-15 shooting.
It's official. The Warriors own the Kings, baskets and balls and full roster. Knowing they were facing a back-to-back, followed by a back-to-back on the East Coast, their mission was to come into town, limit starter minutes and drive back to the Bay with a victory. Done.