The Sacramento Kings just got a rude lesson in why the Golden State Warriors are the defending champions. Even without a suspended Draymond Green and an injured Gary Payton II, the Warriors outhustled the Kings from the opening tip.
Steph Curry was at the heart of the offense, as expected, and he finished as the game’s leading scorer with 36 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block with just one turnover. Curry shot 12 of 25 overall and 6 of 12 from distance while making all six free throw attempts, but his work on the defensive end and off the ball was just as impressive as his shooting. He was constantly setting screens, coming in to help in the paint, and was a pest whenever he was on the floor.
The other key performance for the Warriors came from Kevon Looney, who finished the game with four points, 20 rebounds, nine assists and a steal. He absolutely dominated the Kings’ front court throughout the game and made life difficult.
Andrew Wiggins had 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a block to help their cause, while Klay Thompson contributed 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. Jordan Poole, who started the game, had 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Warriors took a 12-point lead into the second half after Curry scored 15 points in the second quarter, and the the Kings were never able to tie the game again. De’Aaron Fox was the only King to score over 20 with 26 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Domantas Sabonis had 15 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and two steals, but he was clearly bothered by Looney’s hard defense and hustle play the entire game.
Three-point shooting was a big factor in the defeat with the Kings shooting 11 of 46 from range while the Warriors shot 16 of 50. Both teams shot 23 free throws and there wasn’t much of a difference in their percentages. However, the Warriors had 31 assists to the Kings’ 21, accurately reflecting how much better they moved the ball thanks to patience and good spacing.
Momentum is now in the Warriors’ hands, as they’ll be entering Game 4 at the Chase Center with Green and Payton coming back to the fold. The Kings, who just got their first taste of defeat in their banner season, have to take a hard look at themselves and address their lack of effort on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors have been here before. It will be up to the Kings to show that they can overcome experience with youthful exuberance.