The Sacramento Kings were relatively competitive for about six minutes to open Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors. After that, the only thing they were competing for was their dignity, and even that was virtually unattainable.
The final buzzer finally gifted Sacramento a mercy that Golden State never considered giving their opponent. After building an incredible lead, the Warriors seemed like they were just having fun, toying with the Kings as the clock slowly ticked down. The end of regulation made official what had been an unofficial, but certain victory for almost the entire game.
Golden State captured an easy 102-69 win, crucial for its playoff hopes as the season comes to a close.
“(The Warriors) played very well. Obviously they’re fighting for their playoff lives, so they came out and played with that sense of urgency,” Malone said.
Moving at a snail’s pace throughout the night, the Kings’ offense was anemic at best. They opened the game by scoring 27 points in the first half. It was by far their worst offensive performance of the season.
Isaiah Thomas was out once again, which, with Ray McCallum’s recent revelation, hasn’t hurt the Kings lately, but they sorely missed his energy and offense Friday. McCallum struggled, going 0-7 from the field in the first half. Without someone running the show, Sacramento simply couldn’t get any momentum going.
“It’s a great learning experience for young guys like Ray and Ben (McLemore), who have been playing at a high level,” Malone said. “For them to go through a night like tonight (and) realize there are going to be tough times, tough stretches.”
Scoring was made even more difficult by DeMarcus Cousins’ early foul trouble. He picked up his second foul just 1:48 into the game, taking him out of the rest of the quarter and essentially starting the Kings off down two of their starters.
With McCallum struggling and Cousins out, Sacramento looked to Gay for points, but even he couldn’t deliver Friday.
Cousins turned his night around thanks to a 14-point third quarter – he finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds total – but it was too little too late.
As the Kings’ offense was floundering the Warriors looked a mirror image. After a slow start early in the first quarter, Golden State hit its stride and never relented. The gap in execution between the two teams was tremendous.
On one end, the Kings were missing good looks in the paint and at the rim, while at the other, the Warriors were not only scoring on penetration, but knocking down threes too.
Sacramento’s interior defense was a door mat most of the night. Jermaine O’Neal had one of his best games of the season, out-maneuvering defenders in the post to get easy looks and trips to the foul line. His 13 points, though, were just a blip on the radar for Golden State, which had seven players in double-figures.
Six of the seven Warriors that attempted a three made at least one. Golden State scored 54 points in the paint, 17 in transition and 18 off of Sacramento’s 16 turnovers. It was a perfect storm which the Kings, who contributed to their own demise, had no chance of weathering.
“A very tough night all the way around for us,” Malone said. “They dominated the paint, they dominated the glass, they dominated us in transition. Hopefully we can respond against Dallas on Sunday.”
Sunday, they’ll take on the Dallas Mavericks, a team that the Warriors are competing with for one of the Western Conference’s last playoff spots. Sacramento will have to up its intensity and execution or else once again incur the wrath of a talented team with something to play for.