Kings-Warriors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 23, 2012
The Golden State Warriors put together one of their best performances of the season in last week's emotional win in Sacramento. They haven't seemed to play with much passion since. The Warriors try to break out of their funk in a rematch with the Kings on Saturday night at Oracle Arena. Just prior to their game against Sacramento on March 13, the Warriors (19-26) sent Monta Ellis to Milwaukee as part of a five-player trade. Ellis had been the face of the franchise for the past several seasons and the trade left Golden State stunned. Despite losing their leading scorer, the Warriors, who were also without Stephen Curry (right ankle sprain), responded with a stellar offensive showing. Golden State shot 50.5 percent, made 12 of 24 3-pointers and committed a season-low seven turnovers in a 115-89 victory, their most lopsided win of the season. Nate Robinson, David Lee and Brandon Rush each had 17 points for the Warriors, who had six players score at least 14. The victory marked Golden State's third in a row, and the team was within three games of the Western Conference's final playoff spot. The Warriors, however, were unable to build on that win - their lone victory in the last six games came over New Orleans, owner of the West's worst record. "The last couple of game we haven't come out with the right type of intensity," Richard Jefferson said after Thursday's 109-83 loss to Houston. "We need to improve on that." Jefferson had 14 points and Lee added 12 for the Warriors, who were outhustled by a Rockets team that scored 58 points in the paint and held a 48-31 rebounding advantage. This has been a discouraging trend for Golden State, which is allowing 52.0 points in the paint - 20 more than it's scoring - and has been outrebounded by an average of 18.0 boards in its last five games. "To win games, we have to be the hardest working team on the floor every single night,'' coach Mark Jackson said. The Warriors could again have trouble on the glass and with their interior defense against a Sacramento team that has played well over the last week. The Kings (17-30) are averaging 47.3 rebounds in their last four games and finished with 70 points in the paint against Utah on Thursday, but came up short in a 103-102 loss, snapping a three-game winning streak. Sacramento rallied from a 14-point, third quarter deficit and led by one on Marcus Thornton's layup with 4.1 seconds to go, but Al Jefferson put back a Devin Harris miss with 0.9 seconds remaining for the game's final basket. "We did everything we could to get ourselves back into this game,'' coach Keith Smart said. "We were one defensive stop and one rebound from winning.'' DeMarcus Cousins finished with 22 points and 18 rebounds, while Jason Thompson added 19 points and 15 boards. Thompson suffered a sprained left ankle in the closing seconds, but is hopeful to play against Golden State. Against the Warriors last week, Cousins had 19 points and 12 rebounds but Thornton, Sacramento's leading scorer at 18.9 per game, finished with nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Thursday's loss wrapped up a franchise-long nine-game homestand for Sacramento. The Kings haven't played on the road since an overtime loss to Denver on March 5, and haven't won away from home since Feb. 22 in Washington. Their 4-20 road record is second-worst in the league.
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