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SACRAMENTO – The Warriors vowed to come out of the All-Star break bringing consistent effort for the remaining 29 games, emphasizing defense. They are 1-for-1.
Their 101-92 win over the Kings was a direct result of defense and a few timely shots. The Warriors, after all, grabbed fewer rebounds, shot fewer free throws and didn't shoot especially well after halftime.
But they had 14 steals, forced 21 turnovers and held the Kings to 41.8 percent shooting – 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter.
It was a nice and timely gift to Andrew Bogut, the team's defensive mainstay, who watched from the bench as his inflamed shoulder recovers.
"We just wanted to establish our defensive presence, especially with Bogut being out," forward Andre Iguodala said. "We can't rely on him to be our insurance when we get beat on the perimeter or we don't have the right coverage. Our communication was awesome."
The Kings are not especially imposing, and even less so without center DeMarcus Cousins, who missed the game with a strained hip flexor. They do, however, have a history of playing tough against their Northern California neighbors.
When they tried that Wednesday, fighting back from a 15-point deficit to take a 76-75 lead at the end of three quarters, the Warriors (32-22) answered emphatically. They went on a 19-8 run, taking a 94-84 lead and kept their distance.
The work of shooting guard Klay Thompson was of particular note. He brought energy at both ends, finishing with 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. His 3-point dagger in the fourth quarter stretched the lead from two to five and the Kings never got closer.
"He did a great job defending Isaiah Thomas, using his length and his strength," coach Mark Jackson said. "And offensively, he kept it simple. He looked to make plays, whether shooting or scoring or facilitating. He had a spectacular game."
"And now we expect him to continue, from top to bottom, for us to have that type of energy and effort for the rest of the way."
THE GOOD: Thompson looked like a new man and conceded he was "refreshed" after the All-Star break.
Aside from a frustrating third quarter during which he shot 3-for-10, David Lee was efficient and productive. He finished with team highs in points (23, on 10-of-20 shooting) and rebounds (11).
The Warriors committed seven turnovers, total. None for Stephen Curry or Iguodala.
THE BAD: The third quarter, when the force-feeding of Lee helped the Kings get back into the game.
THE TAKE: The Warriors talked about not allowing their offense to affect their defense. They did not, for the most part. It was a sign of maturity. They came out of the break with verve and resolve. One game into their 29-game promise, it remains intact.