How Warriors made up for Draymond, GP2 absences in Game 3 win


SAN FRANCISCO -- What looked like a step-back 3-point attempt on the way from Donte DiVincenzo turned into a filthy hesitation move, ending with a sky-high floater that dropped through the net to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter Thursday night. 

Steph Curry's jaw-dropping reaction summed up a smooth sequence that had Warriors fans on their feet. With Draymond Green suspended and Gary Payton II ruled out due to an illness, the Warriors needed a plethora of players to up the ante against the Sacramento Kings, and Golden State got exactly that in their 114-97 Game 3 win at Chase Center

The 17-point victory was the Warriors' first win in this best-of-seven series, and they'll have at least one reinforcement on the way for Sunday's Game 4 matinee. Payton not being able to play was last-minute news to everybody. Green had to watch the game from home, though he made sure to send a message to his teammates one day prior.

"Nothing is necessarily certain going into the game, but Draymond did come to practice the other day and really talked to everybody saying everybody is going to have to step up, play more minutes and take on some of his role," Moody said.

DiVincenzo and Moody were Steve Kerr's first two Warriors off the bench, and each provided instant impact. Though DiVincenzo's two points at the end of the first quarter were his only of the period and he was 1-of-5 shooting, the do-it-all guard added four rebounds, one assist and one steal. DiVincenzo emanates energy and did so with eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals in 27 minutes off the bench.

Moody made two big threes for the Warriors in the first quarter, a glimpse into what would be a big night for the second-year pro. 

In the Warriors' Game 1 loss, Moody didn't play a single second. He then saw eight-and-a-half minutes of action in Game 2 and had a strong, energetic performance with four points and five rebounds. That earned him a sound spot in Thursday night's rotation, with or without Green and Payton.

Moody ended the win playing a little under 16 minutes and gave the Warriors 13 points and three rebounds, going 4 of 7 from the field and made all three of his free throws. Through the first three quarters, Kings star center Domantas Sabonis had 11 points. Moody had 13.

"I thought Moses really got us going in that first half with those two threes," Kerr said.

Many assumed the young Warrior whose role would increase most, first because of Green being gone for the game and then Payton's illness only adding to the necessity, would be Jonathan Kuminga. The 20-year-old sat on the bench for the entire first quarter. His first few minutes weren't pretty. 

It only got better from there for Kuminga. His head-shaking athleticism is a regular part of Warriors games at this point. Kuminga was a plus-6 in 13 minutes off the bench, scoring six points to go with two rebounds, one assist and one steal. 

More than anyone, though, this night belonged to Kevon Looney. His impact isn't highlight-worthy every game. He scored four points in the Warriors' blowout win but was near the top of the list when it comes to Warriors who led to a must-win performance. 

Kerr has called him a "stabilizing force." This was yet the latest example why. 

Down Green and Payton, the pressure was on Looney. The Warriors center answered every question that some might have been asking. Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević and Looney broke down film before Game 3 with an emphasis on the big man using his skill set and positioning better to his advantage as opposed to pushing and shoving down low. 

The results were 20 rebounds, nine offensive and 11 defensive. Through the first two games of the series, the Warriors were outrebounded by nine and the Kings came away with 11 more offensive boards than the Warriors. Those numbers were flipped in the Warriors' win, with Golden State grabbing six more rebounds than Sacramento, including five more on the offensive glass.

"Sometimes in rebounding, you can get in the zone," Looney said. "Just how Steph and them 3-point shooters get in the zone, as a rebounder I feel the same way sometimes, like I know where the ball is going. Every time I touch it it seems to go my way, tips going my way and different things like that." 

For the second straight postseason, Looney's rebounding helped save the Warriors' season. The team's leadership and veteran core begged Kerr and others to put Looney back into the starting lineup after their 39-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. Looney responded by securing 22 rebounds, 11 offensive and 11 defensive, helping propel the Warriors to the conference finals. 

If he was beat up in the post and the Warriors fell to a three-games-to-none hole against the Kings, their season likely would have been over and who knows what would have happened next. Instead, he was the key to the Warriors having 24 second-chance points, which doubled the Kings' 12. 

The shorthanded Warriors couldn't afford to have Looney in foul trouble. He was whistled for one 44 seconds into the game, and didn't have another foul the rest of the way.

Looney's game wasn't boxed into one aspect. He also dished nine assists, tying his career high, as he played more a distributing position like Green often does. He was responsible for 23 assist points, leading both teams.

"We needed every bit of it and I know he relishes those opportunities to make his presence felt in a very unique way," Curry said. 

RELATED: Draymond suspension another case of NBA's subjective discipline

The Warriors' backs were against the wall. Taking away two of their top players made the hole that much deeper to dig out of. Now, they've created a series behind Curry's 36-point barrage and the cast around him doing their part and then some. 

No one player can replace Draymond Green. No one player can replace Gary Payton II. Many made sure their absences didn't put a deciding pitchfork into the Warriors' season.

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