The Warriors on Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center lost both the battle and the war, falling 124-123 to the Kings to be eliminated from the NBA In-Season Tournament. Golden State had to win by at least 12 points to advance to the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament and appeared to be on their way in doing so, until falling on their face in the second half.
This was a loss where the Warriors led by 17 points at halftime and once held a 24-point advantage.
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Steph Curry (29 points), Andrew Wiggins (29 points) and Klay Thompson (20 points) combined to score 78 points, yet the Warriors’ sloppiness was their ultimate downfall. They committed 20 turnovers, which turned into 26 points for the Kings. They also were called for 31 fouls, and the Kings made 27 of their 42 free throw attempts.
Sacramento shot 20 free throws in the third quarter alone.
Say what you will about the In-Season Tournament, but the intensity between two Northern California rivals was felt for all 48 minutes. When the NBA is asked why they added the tournament, they can point to all four quarters of the Warriors and Kings duking it out.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors falling to 8-10 on the season.
Golden State Warriors
Welcome back, Draymond
Whether it was the Warriors’ defense or pushing the pace offensively, Green’s impact in his return was felt from the start. The Warriors led by eight points after the first quarter, and Green was a plus-10, largely thanks to his two assists and two blocked shots.
The second quarter was where Green’s flavor was felt in an arena where he’s showered with boos, letting the Kings’ bench know he’s back after hitting his second 3-pointer of the night.
Green all night long looked like … well, himself. He defended fastbreaks by himself, protected the basket, was all over the floor and didn’t appear to skip a beat missing the last two weeks. Green finished with eight points, six rebounds and three assists, but also four fouls and four turnovers. And he had all of Sacramento screaming at him, exactly how he likes it.
Draymond also was hit with a technical foul in the fourth quarter, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, which gave the Kings all the momentum they needed to get their first lead since the first few minutes.
But Green wasn’t the only player being welcomed back. So was the 2022 playoff version of Wiggins.
Wiggins had scored more than 17 points only once this season, when he dropped a season-high 31 in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder 10 days ago. He surpassed 17 points in the first half alone, going into halftime with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, was 2 of 4 from deep and made both of his free throws.
This is the Wiggins the Warriors need on a consistent basis.
Thompson was right behind at 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and Curry had 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting in the first half. The trio’s scoring continued in the second half too, at least for the most part.
Curry (29 points on 8-of-20 shooting), Wiggins (29 points on 11-of-18 shooting) and Thompson (20 points on 6-of-15 shooting) all scored 20 or more points for the first time this season, and the fifth time ever in a regular season game. Curry recorded his first double-double of the season, grabbing 10 rebounds. Thompson added nine rebounds.
The Splash Brothers also combined to go 4 of 14 in the second half.
Now that the Warriors are whole with Green back and no injuries hampering them, at least going into the night, Steve Kerr really wanted to get his starting five going. The group was dominant last season, but has struggled this season. On Tuesday night in Sacramento, the starting five of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green and Kevon Looney played 16 minutes and 11 seconds together and outscored the Kings by four points, 42-38.
Odd Men Out
Kerr continuously has praised the Warriors’ depth, yet knows he has to find the right combinations and start tightening his rotations. Even in his pregame press conference Tuesday night, Kerr said that he didn’t expect his rotation to go past nine or 10 players in Sacramento. He played nine in the first quarter, and the main odd men out were Moses Moody and rookie Brandin Podziemski.
Veteran backup point guard Cory Joseph then began the second quarter, a decision that had some scratching their heads. But Chris Paul was seen gingerly walking in the tunnel to the Warriors’ locker room. Paul’s status soon after was TBD (To Be Determined), due to left lower leg soreness. Joseph in the first three minutes off the bench was a plus-4 behind two rebounds and two assists.
Paul early in the third quarter was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
A right leg injury to Gary Payton II in the third quarter forced Kerr to turn to Moody, who had played just five minutes before then. Payton at the start of the fourth quarter was ruled out because of a right calf injury.
Podziemski didn’t play at all, and neither did fellow rookies Trayce Jackson-Davis and Gui Santos. Jonathan Kuminga played 10 minutes, missed all three of his shots, turned the ball over three times and was whistled for two fouls. Joseph in eight minutes was a plus-1, totaling four points, four rebounds and three assists.
But nobody took advantage more of unfortunate injuries more than Moody, who scored 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting and made all three of his 3-pointers.