Kings-Warriors: What to watch for


Kings-Warriors: What to watch for

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Warriors Pregame Live starts tonight at 7, followed by Warriors-Kings at 7:30, and Warriors Postgame Live at 10 -- all on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

It has not been a good season for the Warriors or Kings. TheWarriors are 6-12 and are in 13th place in the Western Conference.The Kings are 6-14 and in 14th place in the WesternConference.The teams will play each other twice in the next five days --Tuesday night at Oracle Arena and Saturday in Sacramento.Warriors coach Mark Jackson continues to maintain his team willmake the playoffs, although the longer the season progresses the more of alongshot that seems.Here are some things to watch for:Coaching matchup: Keith Smart coached theWarriors to 10 more wins in 2010-11 than they had the previous season. But thatwasnt good enough for owner Joe Lacob, who fired Smart and hired Jackson afterthe season.In a strange turn, Smart became an assistant coach inSacramento, then ascended to the head position after Paul Westphal was fired.There is a segment of Warriors fans who dont believe Smart deserved to befired and that Golden State might be better off with him in charge right now.Regardless, despite that both teams are struggling, thisshould be a game that both Jackson and Smart want badly.Interior battle: The Kings areinconsistent up front, but they are big. Sacramento will play DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson plenty of minutes and thats the kind ofbruising and physical front line that gives the Warriors difficulty.Jackson has shown an unwillingness to play Andris Biedrinsor Ekpe Udoh late in games, often using David Lee at the five. During thosetimes, the Warriors have been susceptible to giving up second shots and beingoverwhelmed inside.The backcourt: If the Warriors expect towin this game, theyll have to win the backcourt matchup. Stephen Curry andMonta Ellis would seem to have an advantage against Tyreke Evans and JimmerFredette. Expect the Warriors to attack Fredette, a defensively challengedcombo guard.Bench play: During the course of theseason, Jackson has consistently praised his teams bench, particularly theplay of Nate Robinson, Brandon Rush and Klay Thompson.The Warriors bench has often come into games and changedthe momentum. In fact, Jackson has intimated that there may be times in thefuture when he allows some of his bench players to finish out games.

Rewind: Despite 6-1 preseason record, Warriors 'still have a ways to go'

Rewind: Despite 6-1 preseason record, Warriors 'still have a ways to go'

OAKLAND – The Warriors, AKA Super Team, closed the preseason Friday night with the same super look exhibited in two previous games, informing the NBA that they are ready for games that matter.

For the third consecutive game, Warriors starters routed those of their opponent, this time blasting Portland starting five 80-56. Taking an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter, the reserves took over and held on for a 107-96 win at Oracle Arena.

It was a fairly simple formula. After playing some sleepy defense early, and falling behind 22-6 less than five minutes after tipoff, Steph Curry snapped awake and began putting the Blazers to sleep.

“They came out firing and we weren’t ready to play,” coach Steve Kerr said of the opening minutes.

But with back-to-back 14-point quarters, Curry almost single-handedly gave the Warriors a 57-56 halftime lead before handing the scoring baton to Kevin Durant.

Putting together a 14-point third quarter of his own, Durant powered a 22-4 run that netted an 86-65 lead with 2:03 left in the third, ending Portland’s night.

“For the most part of in the first half, it was a really good basketball game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “An understatement is the game got away from us in the third quarter. They got hot.”

On a night when Klay Thompson (9 points, 3-of-13 shooting) never found his shot, Curry and Durant combined for 63 points on 23-of-42 shooting from the field, including 13-of-21 from beyond the arc.

“We’re continuing to build chemistry and flow of where shots are going to come from and everybody (is learning) the little nuances of our offense,” Curry said. “Like when to cut, when to come off the dribble and when to screen for somebody, just based on where you are on the court. Those aren’t set play calls; it’s just organized chaos.”

That’s precisely the way Kerr wants the Warriors to play. Defend ferociously to trigger transition, run at every opportunity, take every open 3-pointer and keep the ball and the bodies moving at all times.

“I thought what changed the game was Andre (Iguodala),” Kerr said. “His stat line may not look like it, but he changed the game with his defense, started getting deflections and playing the passing lanes. I thought he and Draymond (Green) kind of picked up the intensity and got us back in the game.”

That’s the thing about the new-and-improved Warriors. They’re dangerous in a dazzling variety of ways. They use defense to disrupt and speed up the game to their liking, and they have a seemingly relentless supply of offensive weapons – with the 3-point shot being their nuclear dagger.

They made 17 treys, in 43 attempts, on Friday – while holding the Blazers to 8-of-26. Picking up the slack for Thompson was Ian Clark, who came off the bench for 17 points in 18 minutes, including three bombs from deep.

It’s not midseason, or even regular season, but it’s what Kerr and his staff hopes to see beginning with the opener on Tuesday night.

“Going 6-1 and winning the Pacific Division preseason title is a big deal; I don’t know if we’re going to hang a banner,” Kerr said, tongue in cheek. “All in all, things are coming together.

“But we still have a ways to go. We’re not there yet. But we probably shouldn’t be there yet. We’re only a few weeks into this thing. We’ll keep working.”

The Warriors may not be “there yet,” but it’s hard to imagine more preseason action would get them any closer. Bring on the regular season. They’re nothing more to prove in games that are not official.

Warriors' Durant exhibits entire scoring arsenal vs Blazers

Warriors' Durant exhibits entire scoring arsenal vs Blazers

OAKLAND – In the final preseason game on the schedule, at his new home of Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant entered the highlight zone.

The team’s newest superstar exhibited his entire scoring arsenal, dropping 3-pointers, soaring in for dunks and swishing mid-range post-ups.

The most impressive dunk came with 9:02 left in the quarter, when Durant took a pass from Draymond Green and finished the fast break by taking off from about 10 feet and throwing it down.

[POOLE: Instant Replay: Curry, Durant light it up in win over Blazers]

The most impressive trey came with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter, when Steph Curry came down in transition, slipped a pass to Durant, who threw it in from 32 feet.

Durant scored 14 points in the third quarter, 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep.

Durant’s line: 28 points (11-of-21, 5-of-8, 1-of-2), seven rebounds, six assists and one block.