OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors can do no wrong. They are fresh off their first championship in 40 years and after thumping the Kings, they are 18-0 on the season. We are seeing history in the making and Sacramento had a front row seat to the action on Saturday night.
The Kings jumped out to an early eight point lead and looked like they might make a game of it. But then Stephen Curry caught fire. During pregame, coach George Karl talked about Curry looking like something out of a video game. During the first quarter, that is exactly what the reigning MVP appeared to be.
Curry finished the quarter with 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and 6-for-6 from the line. Once he began hitting 3-pointers, the Kings were done. After trailing the entire quarter, Golden State took the lead in the final seconds on an ally-oop to Festus Ezeli.
A Quincy Acy 3-pointer to begin the second quarter gave Sacramento a 32-30 lead, but veteran Leandro Barbosa dropped in a 3-ball moments later and the Kings never led again.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better shooting team or a better passing team in my whole career I’ve been coaching,” Karl added. “You give them an opportunity or we give them a mistake, they usually find it with the pass. Then a lot of times, they find it with the three ball.”
To Karl’s point, the Warriors finished the night 16-of-30 from behind the arc. As impressive as that sounds, it doesn’t capture how truly dominant Golden State was from the perimeter. Four different player knocked down three or more 3-pointers
“It’s an explosion,” Karl said. “(Leandro) Barbosa exploded last night. Rush explodes tonight. (Andre) Iguodala doesn’t miss. (Marreese) Speights come in, gives them a good whatever minutes. When you’re trying to design a plan to do something to control (Stephen) Curry, you do weaken something else and what they’ve been very good at is they find that.”
Rush started for the injured Harrison Barnes and was barely noticeable on the court in the first half. But it was a completely different story in the third quarter when the 30-year-old wing dropped in 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from deep in a seven minute spurt.
It’s hard to beat a team when a seldom used spot starter has the capability of burning you to ground.
“To beat them, you’re going to have to have a good defense and a good offense,” Karl said. “I think this team is so balanced and they have depth. I think, as I said, I’m probably more impressed with their passing as much as anything. So you’ve got defense, offense, shooting, passing, depth and they play physical. Their defensive physicality, I’m not saying they physically outworked us, but they’re big and athletic and strong in a lot of ways.”
If there was one word to describe the Warriors, it would be unselfish. 12 players took the court on Saturday night for coach Luke Walton. All 12 notched an assist. Draymond Green led the 32 assist attack with 12, but if passing is contagious, the Warriors are infected. Even their bigs were sending touch passes to cutters.
“They’re in a great rhythm,” Rajon Rondo said. “They’re a well-oiled machine. I think the playoffs (brought) them together stronger.”
“This is one of those teams where you have to play an almost perfect game,” Rudy Gay added. “You have to play with confidence. They are undefeated so you have to do all the little things. You can’t turn the ball over which we did numerous times.”
For Sacramento, this loss was expected. Once again they came into the game without the services of DeMarcus Cousins. They were 15 point underdogs in Vegas and even that may have been generous. The Warriors are the best team in the NBA and it’s not even close at this point.
“We always examine everything,” Karl said. “It’s disappointing, but overreacting to this game, (losing) to the team that’s 18-0, a team that’s beating people by I think an average of 18, 15 points a game and you don’t have your best player, I think that would be an overreaction.”
There are plenty of reasons to overreact in Sacramento, but losing to a team that is destroying every team in the league isn’t one of them.
Seth Curry has had a difficult time getting on the floor for Sacramento. The 25-year-old combo guard is buried on the bench behind Rondo and Darren Collison and coming into Saturday night, he had played just 38 total minutes on the season.
“It’s tougher mentally than anything,” Curry said about staying ready. “You’re in the gym daily working on your game and mentally you don’t know where you are going to be at. You just have to stay ready and engaged in the game.”
With the game well out of hand, Karl turned to his young reserve for a spark. Curry responded with nine points on 3-for-3 shooting from behind the arc in nine minutes of action.
With back-to-back losses to the Timberwolves and Warriors, the Kings now sit at 6-12 on the season. After a 1-7 start to campaign, Sacramento started to show signs of life. A 5-3 run had them dreaming of climbing out of the cellar, but that feeling has been placed on hold once again.
“I think we are always evaluating where we are,” Gay said. “After you lose a game you have to get your composure back and get back on the winning side of things. This season is about streaks, how many can you get in a row. Eventually we want to get on a winning streak and hopefully we can build on it.”
The Kings get a chance to move forward on Monday against Dallas, but the veteran laden Mavericks are 10-7 and coming off a win against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. There are very few easy wins in the Western Conference. If the Kings are going to climb out of the hole they have created, it will take quality play against quality opponents.