What we learned as Steph, Loon power Warriors' Game 3 win


SAN FRANCISCO – Facing a dire situation, the Warriors came out breathing fire and kept the flames coming Thursday night at Chase Center.

Their 114-97 victory over the Kings in Game 3 gave Golden State some much-needed breathing room in their first-round Western Conference playoff series. Sacramento holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Five Warriors scored in double figures, with Stephen Curry pouring in a game-high 36 points, Andrew Wiggins dropping 20, Jordan Poole 16, and Klay Thompson and Moses Moody each with 13.

Without their top two defenders – Draymond Green was suspended, and Gary Payton II was declared too ill to play – the Warriors held Sacramento to its lowest point total of the season when its regulars were in the lineup.

Here are three observations from Game 3:

Steph, Wiggs and Loon

With Draymond and GP2 out, the Warriors knew they had quite the void to fill. Three players combined to do the trick.

Curry led the offensive charge, his 36 points coming on 12-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-12 from distance. Whether on or off the ball, he struck an exquisite balance between firing from deep and driving to the rim.

Wiggins’ 20 points came on 8-of-16 shooting, including 3 of 6 beyond the arc. He added seven rebounds and was a consistent presence on defense. 

Looney toiled for 31 minutes, finishing with four points and a game-high 201 rebounds while also making the evening difficult for Kings big man Domantas Sabonis. 

Others contributed greatly, notably Donte DiVincenzo (six points, eight rebounds, eight assists) and Moody, but this victory was driven by the exploits of Curry, Wiggins and Looney.

Appropriate urgency was visible early

For the first time in the series, the Warriors seemed to sense the gravity of the moment from the opening tip. After committing turnovers on their first two possessions in Games 1 and 2, they forced one on Sacramento’s first possession.

They were diving on the floor for loose balls. Treating the basketball as a valuable object. And, moreover, playing defense like a pack of ornery wolves.

Though the Warriors, aside from Curry and Wiggins and Moody, did not shoot well, they locked down the NBA’s best offense.

The same Kings who put up a 71-point half in Game 1 and a 41-point quarter in Game 2 managed 41 in the first half and 72 through three quarters. Sacramento’s overall field-goal percentage hovered in the 30s most of the game and in the 20s beyond the arc.

Only twice this season did the Kings’ regular lineup fail to score at least 100 points, and the Warriors did it without their two best defenders.

Not exactly Roaracle

Twice in the second quarter, Curry turned desperate, roaring, waving his arms. He was seeking neither a pass nor a whistle from officials.

Curry wanted a little help, not from teammates on the court but “teammates” in the seats.

The raucous sellout crowd (18,064) the Warriors had hoped for materialized only sporadically. Responses to Curry’s exhortations lasted only a few seconds before returning to routine, regular-season decibel levels.

This was an opportunity to recreate the noise that once made Oracle Arena a house of horrors for visitors, and the crowd at Chase was relatively tame unless the Warriors were on a run.

Considering the high stakes – a dynasty wheezing, a loss putting it on the brink of extinction – this was less than expected and nowhere near the din generated during the first two games in Sacramento.

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