With most of the sporting world’s gaze transfixed on March Madness, there was also professional basketball being played at Oracle. But it definitely had the same feel — no world-beating superstars, just two teams going at each other across all five positions.
And while the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history went down outside of the arena, the underdogs inside, the Sacramento Kings (23-47), pulled their own upset, outlasting the Warriors (52-17) 98-93 Friday.
Former March hero Quinn Cook looked right back at home as he poured in a career-high 25 on 10-of-13 shooting, bringing back memories of his days at Duke. He was the focal point of the offense with the Warriors missing all of their scoring punch.
Draymond Green was impressed with Cook, who finally enjoyed a breakout performance:
“I been waiting on that Quinn. You know, you watch him go down to the G-League and score 40 and 45 and we needed that … and most importantly his shots were falling. I think since he’s been playing a lot, he’s been playing well his shots just weren’t falling for him.”
Already without their All-Star duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State lost a third when Kevin Durant was ruled out not just for Friday’s game but for the next two weeks with an incomplete rib cartilage fracture. He first injured it against Minnesota but then aggravated it Wednesday and was forced to sit out.
Green was not worried about the severity of any of the injuries, though:
“I think we are in a position where all three guys could play if they had to, but it’s just not that important for them to play. I think it’s more important for them to be healthy. … It gives them a chance to rest or rehab, but also get their legs back going into the playoffs, it’s a long season. I don’t think it’s all bad for us.”
The loss of their big three adds what already was a huge scoring burden on a bench unit that struggled all year in that category. Green, David West, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are all players known more for what they bring to the table without needing to score.
Although they filled in to an extent, Green finished with 14 and Iguodala pitched in 11, while West and Livingston failed to break double-digits with five and seven respectively.
Green also added 10 boards, seven assists, four steals and two blocks, which is what head coach Steve Kerr expects from him:
“Draymond’s our heart and soul. He’s out there battling and blocking shots and getting steals, he was amazing. And then he hits the huge 3 to tie it. That’s what Draymond does, think of all the big 3’s he’s hit against the Cavs in Game 7 of the Finals, he’s a guy who’s not afraid of anything, that’s for sure.”
Adding injury to injury, Omri Casspi left the game in the first half with his own ankle injury. It’s been a tough season for Casspi on the injury front as he’s never been fully healthy all year.
And it may get even worse because the Warriors now fully depleted may have to add another body, or move Cook onto the active roster and off his two-way contract. That would mean he could be on their roster for the playoffs, but it would also mean the Warriors would have to cut someone from their active roster to make room — and the most likely player looks like Casspi.
Aside from Cook, the Warriors had almost no one who could create a shot for himself on the floor Friday.
The lack of scoring showed in the final minutes of the game when, down one point with 40 seconds left, they couldn’t just give the ball to a star and have him go get a bucket. Instead Green took it upon himself to emulate Curry and launch a deep 3-pointer with plenty of time on the clock.
It bricked, the Kings ran down the rebound and the game was over with the Kings going undefeated at Oracle this season.
The Warriors get no time off to heal as they’ll take the late night flight to Phoenix to take on the Suns Saturday. The Suns enter with losses in 17 of their last 18 games and have the second worst record in the NBA and like the Kings are actively trying for that top spot in the lottery
With their win, the Warriors now have 260 wins since 2014-15, which is the record for most wins over a four-season span. They break the record that they also held winning 258 games from 2013-14 to 2016-17. … Draymond Green blocked two shots against the Kings, which gives him 500 career regular season blocks. He’s the eighth player in Warriors franchise history to reach that mark.