The Warriors and Sacramento Kings meet for the fourth andfinal time this season on Saturday night at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have wontwo of the three meetings this season.The Warriors are coming off a split of their recent two-gameroad trip against New Orleans and Houston. The Kings are coming off a toughlast-second loss against the Utah Jazz on Thursday.Here are some things to watch for during Saturdaysgame:Evans off bench: Sacramento Keith Smarthas been bringing Tyreke Evans off the bench recently, and also playing himless at point guard. The change seems to have agreed with Evans, who has beenplaying well of late. If Evans plays against the Warriors subs, theyre goingto have to find a way to account for him.Will Benson play?: The Warriors areexpected to sign center Keith Benson out of the D-League to a 10-day contract.He should be in uniform tonight. The question is: Will he play?Benson averaged 15.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 19 games forthe Sioux Falls SkyForce.Benson was a second-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks a year ago. The Warriorsalso recently signed Mickell Gladness out of the D-League. With Andrew Bogutand Andris Biedrins hurt, lets see whether coach Mark Jackson goes with one ofthose two players or uses David Lee a lot at five.Play better at home: Last season theWarriors went 26-15 at Oracle Arena, but this year their record is just 10-13there. In recent home games, the Warriors have struggled to maintain theireffort level.They have not played well in either of their past two homegames vs. Minnesota and Milwaukee. While the playoffs remain a longshot forthe Warriors, theres no reason why they cant remain competitive when theyplay at Oracle.Klays game: Klay Thompson has beeninconsistent since taking over the starting two guard spot, which is to beexpected from a first-year player. Hes had big scoring nights, but hes alsohad some tough shooting nights.With 21 games remaining, one of Thompsons goals should beto develop some consistency in his overall game regardless of how hesshooting the ball.
OAKLAND -- The Warriors-Clippers rivalry, dead for a couple years, was buried 50 points deep Thursday night.
But scoring 50 points in 12 minutes, as the Warriors did in the third quarter, is a rather emphatic statement that serves as its own embellishment. It sent the Clippers back home, unable to muster even a half-hearted comeback.
“That was incredible,” Kevin Durant said of third-quarter scoring frenzy.
“That’s a lot of points,” Klay Thompson said. “It’s that the most we’ve had all season?”
Well, yes, it is. The Warriors’ previous high for points in a quarter was 45, also against the Clippers, on Jan. 28.
So this was astonishing even to the Warriors, the highest-scoring team in the NBA for three seasons running. This is the Warriors’ fourth 50-point quarter in franchise history and their first since March 1989. They made nine 3-pointers, tying a franchise record for triples in a quarter.
Fifties are rare, period; the last one by any team in the NBA was on March 25, 2014, when the Lakers dropped 51 in a quarter against the Knicks.
“I had no idea we scored that much,” said Stephen Curry, who scored 20 in the quarter -- 17 in the final 3:37 before halftime. “Obviously, coming back from 12 down to having a double-digit lead, it all started with the defensive end and finding transition.”
The scoring breakdown: Curry scored 20, Durant 15, Thompson 5, Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachulia 4 each and JaVale McGee 2. The Warriors shot 73.9 percent (17-of-23) in the quarter.
“It all started from our defense, getting rebounds and getting out in transition,” Durant said.
The Warriors forced five LA turnovers in the quarter, off which they scored 11 points. Trailing by 12 at the half, they led by 12 entering the fourth quarter.
The Warriors have defeated the Clippers 10 consecutive times overall. They’ve beaten them 11 straight times at Oracle Arena. The average margin of victory in four games this season is 21.5 points.
This was a matter of how the Warriors responded to the threat posed by LA in the first half.
“I’m not sure what needed to happen,” Draymond Green said. “But I know we took that quarter over. And it was pretty spectacular.”
This will come as a sharp blow to Warrior fans who like things the way they are, but they probably can no longer use Scott Foster as an alibi for failure, or a stalking horse for rage.
Well, I mean they can, but let’s be honest here – the evidence just doesn’t support it any more.
Foster, who no matter what you say is one of the elite officials in the league, has also been cast as a bête noire by all things Golden State. Either he’s imperious, or he’s standoffish, or he makes himself too conspicuous – they’re all standard complaints made of all officials who aren’t otherwise branded as just plain terrible.
Only Foster isn’t terrible, given the fact that he has worked a series of NBA Finals, and that remains the gold standard for officiating.
But the Warriors bang their heads against the backboard when he works their games, and were on the verge of doing that again Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Foster called third quarter technicals on Andre Iguodala and the Warrior bench, and J.T. Orr called one on Draymond Green, all in the space of 6:34. The Warriors were unhinged, the fans were unhinged, innocent bystanders were being hit with flying hinges throughout the arena.
And in that stretch, the Warriors outscored the Clippers, 26-15, en route to a 50-point quarter (the first in two seasons and the third since the turn of the millennium) and another harsh slapdown of what used to be known as the Warriors-Clippers Cavalcade Of Hate, this time 123-113.
It isn’t that any more, not close. Truth is, the Warriors have won 10 consecutive games against the Clips, but probably never quite at decisively as this. At the game’s most lopsided stretch, Golden State outscored Los Angeles, 72-33, in a shade over 17 minutes.
Because that’s what they do.
Only this time, the comeback was not fueled by the existence of the Clippers, who had outplayed them pretty convincingly for the first 22 minutes and change, but with the officials, who as we have said before irk the hell out of them when their number includes Foster.
Who, again, is one of the game’s best officials. I think it’s a personality clash, to be frank, in which both sides can take some blame.
Truth is, though, when a team can go for 50 in a quarter and still have time to engage in a feud with the officials, it is making a kinky little statement about what they can do when enraged, and how difficult it is to stop them when they have a serious mad-on.
Yes, it is probably stretching a point to make this case, especially when the Warriors make 17 of 23 shots (9 of 15 from three) and assist on 13 of the 17 field goals. It is probably minimizing Stephen Curry’s 20-point quarter and his four assists, or Kevin Durant’s 15 and five rebounds, or David West imposing his body between Green and the officials to keep him from getting T’d up again for the second successive game.
But we have already established that rivalries are dying at their feet left and right. In the last three years the Clippers have gone from the Warriors’ arch-enemies to a team that has finished an aggregate 44 games behind the Dubs in the standings, making whatever animosity they can still stir
Against the Clips a curio of a much earlier time. The Oklahoma City Thunder have come and gone, and even the Durant-Russell Westbrook has lost its last bit of elasticity.
Oh, there is still Cleveland, but that cannot be resumed for another 14 weeks at the earliest.
The Warriors, in short, have run out of opponents, and given that they will manufacture a foe when one does not otherwise exist, Scott Foster may have to serve for the time being, even if he is nothing but an intermittent prop to amuse the customers when the game cannot provide.
Though you’d have to think the third quarter Thursday makes that pretty thin oatmeal. The Warriors ate an entire game in 12 minutes, including the officials. They seemed like they got their fill.