Klay Thompson

What Warriors' ugly win vs. Kings says about this season's team

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SAN FRANCISCO – At 3:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday morning, the Warriors landed back home in San Francisco after a four-and-a-half-hour flight from New Orleans that concluded a three-game road trip over four days. Steve Kerr gave them the day off from practice, and the Warriors didn’t hold a shootaround before Wednesday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings as they sought to take advantage of rest the best they could. 

The Kings were without their best player, star point guard De’Aaron Fox, who scored 39 points against the Warriors five days prior in Sacramento. The “ultimate trap game,” as Kerr called it in his pregame press conference, stared the Warriors square in the face. They could have crumbled, especially after facing a five-point deficit going into the fourth quarter. 

Last season’s team likely would have. Not these Warriors, at least not from what they’ve now shown through the first five games of the 2023-24 NBA season. 

The Warriors outscored the Kings by six in the fourth quarter, sinking Sacramento, 102-101, on a last-second Klay Thompson jumper on a night where he was 5 of 14 before that shot. 

“It’s kind of a perfect storm for us, and we knew it wouldn’t be an easy game,” Draymond Green said. “We knew that’s a really good team, and we know it’s a battle. So we knew it would be a tough one.

“But it was good to see us never go away. When everything was going wrong, everybody stood in place and made the necessary plays we needed to make to pull the game off.”

Through the first half the Warriors led by one point in a game where neither team was catching fire offensively. The Warriors looked like a team that had just come home from a road trip that ended with a back-to-back. They were fighting to stay lockstep with Sacramento ahead of what had been the Warriors’ X-factor at the start of the season. 

Golden State came into Wednesday night as a plus-47 in the third quarter, rejuvenating themselves at halftime as they had so often in years past. This time, the Warriors’ third-quarter magic appeared to have run out. 

Over those 12 minutes, the Kings outscored them by six points to hold a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter. The Warriors in the third quarter were out-rebounded 17-9. The Kings took six more shots than them in the quarter and made four more than the Warriors. But as the quarter went on, the Warriors began to wake up. 

A Keegan Murray jump shot with 8:13 remaining in the third quarter gave the Kings an 11-point lead. The rest of the way, the Warriors outscored the Kings 16-10. And nobody was bigger in the quarter than newcomer Dario Šarić.

After missing his first two 3-pointers of the night, Šarić’s first made three made it a one-point game with three-and-a-half minutes to go in the quarter. His next one tied the game two minutes later. Šarić’s third and final made three of the night gave the Warriors a two-point lead with nine-plus minutes remaining in the game. 

All three 3-pointers were assisted by Chris Paul, Šarić’s in-sync second unit running mate. The stretch big came into the night scoring a total of 15 points in his previous three game while going 3 of 11 behind the 3-point line, and scored 15 points off the bench, making three clutch 3-pointers on a night where the Warriors couldn’t be carried offensively by Steph Curry. 

“Today I kind of cleared my mind and stayed positive through the whole game,” Šarić said. “Playing with Chris, he will find me for sure somehow, and I just need to be ready to shoot the ball.” 

Curry had scored only 14 points in the first three quarters, entering the night averaging 33.5 points overall for the season. Thompson was only at eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. The Warriors’ star power wasn’t shining, and it looked like they were about to drop their second consecutive home game after winning three straight on the road. The Warriors trailed by three points in the final 72 seconds. 

Swarming defense and a veteran-led, competitive-as-hell group is what even gave them a chance in the end to set up Thompson’s heroics

“Every time you get in a situation where you have to close the game and get stops and also execute on offense, it’s just a chance to build some confidence and learn some of the things you can run to get open and how connected you have to be defensively,” Kerr said. “It’s a good experience for our team here early in the year.”

Thompson sent Chase Center into a frenzy, two nights after the Warriors blew out the New Orleans Pelicans on the road by 28 points. Wins don’t need to pass the beauty test, but the one on the scoreboard. The Warriors will benefit from pulling out an ugly one as a team that can win by any means necessary. 

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