On tired legs, the Warriors needed all the help they could get against the fast-paced Kings.
They got it in the form of a wedgie, a jumpball and an off-balance putback to survive with a 117-116 win over Sacramento (10-9) Saturday night at Oracle Arena.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors (14-7) with a season-high 44 points on 13-of-26 shooting, with 17 coming in the fourth. He also pitched in 13 rebounds and seven assists, but also had seven turnovers, including five in the first quarter.
Instead of launching, he drove it into the teeth of the defense, got his own rebound after his initial floater was blocked and spun in a shot with just 5.8 seconds left to put the Warriors up one.
Thompson said that in late-game scenarios it always pays to be aggressive:
“I don’t know if I got fouled, but who cares? I got the putback. You’ll take a game winner anyway you can get it, it doesn’t matter how ugly it is.”
Then Golden State was able to contest a driving layup attempt from Buddy Hield, who paced Sacramento with 28 points on 12-of-21 shooting, and luckily for them Marvin Bagley’s tip dunk to win it was a little low and turned into a wedgie, which resulted in a jump ball. A tip by Durant all but sealed the game.
Thompson’s bucket at the end will be what gets the most attention, but he kept the Warriors in the game in the third. With his team dragging, he erupted for 15 of his 31 points. He’s now his that mark twice in the last 24 hours as he just poured in 31 against the Blazers Friday.
Kerr said that both Thompson and Durant have so much added responsibility offensively with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out:
“You see the shot distribution, those guys are really carrying the load offensively. Kevin was just amazing, there were so many possessions that were kind of dead in the water and he bailed us out late.”
Damian Jones was the only other Warrior to break double-digits in the scoring column, tying a career high with 13 points. He had one of his best stretches as a Warrior to start the game as he had nine points and two rebounds in the first seven minutes of action.
Kerr was impressed with the mental state Jones looked to be in:
“I thought Damian looked angry out there to start the game, which I was glad to see. He hasn’t played well the last couple games, so it was good to see his aggression. … I really liked his effort tonight.”
While Jones has been the starting center for 19 of the 21 games so far this season, he hasn’t shown much aggression or enthusiasm when he’s been on the court outside of the usual dunks. Over his last five games he’s averaging just 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 16.6 minutes.
Durant said that the way Jones started the game was a big key:
“I think Damian set a great tone for us to start the game. And we just kind of fed off of everybody tonight, from the bench to the starters. And it put us in position to win that game at the end.”
The Kings took advantage of the Warriors being on a second night of a back-to-back and ran them into the ground early.
And it wasn’t just after defensive stops, after every Warriors make the Kings made a deliberate effort to push it right back up the court and got a bunch of clean looks from it. They outscored the Warriors 27-12 in fastbreak points for the game.
But the Warriors defense limited their quality looks despite the breakneck pace. They held the Kings to just 43 percent from the field.
Although they almost neutralized their defensive effort by gifting Sacramento nine more shots due to their turnover problems. The shot gapped closed by the end of the game, when the Warriors started to limit their turnovers and that proved to be all the difference.
The Warriors get a much-needed day off Sunday before they have to take the court for their third game in four days Monday against the Orlando Magic.
With his five 3’s, Klay Thompson passed former Warrior Jason Richardson for 21st place on the all-time 3-pointers made list.