Warriors’ late-game struggles a focus entering game against Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors have had no qualms acknowledging they couldn’t care less about winning 73 games again. More important to them is solving the late-game issues that trail them to Sacramento.
The Warriors (31-6) will be fresh off blowing a 24-point third-quarter lead in a 128-119 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies when they face their Northern California rivals Sunday night at the Golden 1 Center. That defeat was the second fourth-quarter stink bomb in 12 days for the two-time defending Western Conference champion, who also blew a 14-point lead in the final period in a Christmas Day loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Those two losses, even though sandwiched around four consecutive wins, have the Warriors in a foul mood as they try to try to extend their NBA record for avoiding consecutive losses to 124 straight games.
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They’ll also be seeking to push their winning streak against Sacramento to 13 straight contests in a game that will be historical in one respect: The NBA will stream the game on Facebook Live to its audience in India only, the first such contest ever broadcast that way.
The Warriors’ concern is providing a performance more in keeping with their standards of the previous two seasons.
“Trying to win every regular-season game really doesn’t matter,” Warriors forward Draymond Green told reporters after the game. “I want to see us get better every time we step on the floor, and I don’t feel like that’s been happening.”
That was apparent against Memphis. The Warriors were outscored 49-21 over the fourth quarter and overtime. They are negative-15 in the fourth quarter this season (+448 in the first three quarters combined), and they’re surrendering 29 points per fourth quarter over their past seven contests.
Offensively, they weren’t very good, either, shooting 5-for-22 and committing seven turnovers over the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We just haven’t executed very well,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Maybe that’s something we can do better as a coaching staff. … We have to close games better and execute better offensively.”
Until a 106-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, playing well in the fourth quarter is one of the few things the Kings (15-21) could point to as a positive in recent contests. The Kings surrendered 31 against Los Angeles and lost for the fourth time in five contests, but they’d allowed only 23.3 points per fourth quarter in their nine games before that one.
Offensively, the Kings have been sporadic, averaging 102.2 points a game and ranking 21st in the league.. Against the Clippers, coach Dave Joerger started point guards Darren Collison and Ty Lawson together for the first time in a bid to spark an offense that has been held under 100 points in seven of its past 12 contests.
The two combined for 37 points, eight assists and four steals in a combined 72 minutes.
“I liked it,” Joerger said. “It was good.”
The Kings also were boosted by forward Rudy Gay’s return from a hip pointer. He played for just the second time in their past 12 contests.
“We just have to keep working,” Joerger said. “The guys are playing as hard as they can, playing at high a level as they can, and giving it everything they’ve got.”