Warriors-Kings: What to watch for

February 4, 2012, 6:17 pm
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Warriors coach Mark Jackson is calling Saturdays matchupwith the Kings a big game, which is easy to snicker at. After all, theWarriors are 8-12 and the Kings are just 7-15.
STEINMETZ: Kings "big game" for Warriors
But the Warriors are going for their third consecutive win,which would be a season high. And Jackson believes the Warriors are turning thecorner with this team, saying that he believes they have gone through theirrough stretch.The Warriors are headed toward getting back to .500, Jacksonbelieves, and the game at Sacramento is one important step to getting there.Here are some things to watch for:
Thornton returns: Kings shooting guardMarcus Thornton is back after missing five games because of a strained leftquad. Thornton didnt play in the Kings 93-90 loss at Golden State on Tuesday,but he returned Thursday and scored 20 points in Sacramentos win overPortland.Thornton is an explosive scorer who had a career-high 42points against the Warriors last March in a game at Sacramento. Thorntonsreturn to the lineup Thursday meant rookie Jimmer Fredette earned his firstDNP-CD of his career.Thornton and Tyreke Evans arent the easiest backcourt forMonta Ellis and Stephen Curry to match up against.Bench play: The Warriors bench was mostresponsible for the win over Sacramento on Tuesday. Jackson stuck with hisbench for most of the fourth quarter, subbing only after Ekpe Udoh fouled outand for foul shooting in the last minute.The Warriors substitutes have been a big bright spot thisseason. But the fact of the matter is that the Warriors havent played a ton ofroad games. And if the Warriors are to make any kind of run this season, thebench is going to have to be there at Oracle and away from it.Jackson vs. Smart: Theres no gettingaround the coaching angle in this one. Sacramento coach Keith Smart was thecoach of the Warriors a season ago but wasnt retained despite winning 10more games than in the previous season. At the time, one of the things owner Joe Lacob said was thathe was looking for a coach with more experience than Smart. Instead, Lacobhired Jackson, who had never coached at any level before. Smart ended up getting the Kings job after Paul Westphal wasfired earlier this season. Road woes: The Warriors arent goinganywhere this season unless they figure out how to win on the road. Over thepast three seasons theyve gone 26-97 away from Oracle, and this season theyrejust 2-5. So far, the Warriors have played 13 home games and justseven on the road. In other words, unless the Warriors start winning at abetter rate away from Oakland, their chances of turning around the season arevery slim.

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