In the Warriors’ 120-107 loss to the Kings on Sunday night, it was rebounding, free throws and dribble penetration that killed any chance the Warriors had of picking up their second win of the season.
Looking at the box score from the game, the Warriors did some things well. They continued to thrive in transition, racking up 27 fast-break points. They shot the ball well from the field (42-83, 50.6 percent) and didn’t hurt themselves from distance (6-18, 33 percent on 3-point attempts). They had 20 assists and didn’t have an abnormally large number of turnovers (14).
But three areas murdered the Warriors Sunday night.
FREE THROWS: The Warriors missed on a lot of their chances at the line (17-for-28, 60.7 percent) and sent the Kings to the free-throw line far too often (38 attempts, they made 29). That’s a 12-point swing right there. The Warriors lost by 13. The Warriors need to make their free throws, that’s obvious and there’s not a lot more to say about it. They usually shoot about 75 percent from the line, so consider this a one-game swoon.
Allowing 38 free-throw attempts to the Kings was a problem. Part of the problem was the Warriors guards could not contain Kings rookie guard Tyreke Evans. Evans met very little resistance when he tried to penetrate and was then able to use his size (6-foot-6, 220) to draw fouls or to get the ball to the Kings’ big men, Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson, who shot 13 free throws between them.
Obviously, you don’t want to harp on that last issue too much, because the Warriors are at a clear disadvantage trying to defend the post right now. The injured Andris Biedrins wanted to give it a try and got the start at center, but was never very effective (2 points, 6 rebounds in 21 minutes) and then re-injured himself in the third quarter. With Ronny Turiaf still out because of injury, the Warriors were left with Anthony Randolph and Mikki Moore as the only viable big men on the roster, and they provided very little defensive resistance. Simply put, until Biedrins and Turiaf are healthy again and playing the majority of minutes at the center position, this will probably be a recurring problem for the Warriors.
REBOUNDING: The absence of Biedrins and Turiaf is one of the main reasons the Warriors are having such a hard time rebounding the ball. They are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA, and are getting killed on the offensive glass. Sunday night, the Kings outrebounded the Warriors 52-34, and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds. The Kings had a 19-point advantage over the Warriors in second-chance points. Again, the Warriors lost by 13. If the Warriors rebound, they probably win.
It’s easy to throw up your hands and surrender, figuring that until Biedrins and Turiaf are back, the Warriors are simply going to be a terrible rebounding team. And that’s true to a degree. Getting those two back will help a lot. But the Warriors can do better, even without Biedrins and Turiaf. It’s frustrating to watch many of the Warriors standing around waiting for somebody else to get the rebound instead of everybody crashing the boards. So much of rebounding is effort, and right now, we’re not seeing it. In Sunday’s loss, Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette and Randolph had two rebounds each. Where’s the effort? Does anybody find that acceptable? The two starting guards, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, had four rebounds each, which isn’t bad, but far too often they were standing around on the perimeter waiting for the outlet pass instead of going inside the paint, putting a body on somebody and trying to grab the rebound.
The Warriors are playing a small lineup, and for a small lineup to succeed, everybody must rebound, even the guards. If you don’t rebound, you’ll give up second-chance points (a killer in Sunday’s game), and you’ll ruin a lot of chances to get out in transition. Yes, the Warriors had 27 fast-break points Sunday, but they could have had more if they had rebounded the basketball.
DRIBBLE PENETRATION: This was also a problem in Sunday’s game. It would be nice to see the Warriors guards extend their defense out past the 3-point line to try and stop opposing guards from getting into the lane as easily as they have to this point. Evans and Beno Udrih hurt the Warriors with dribble penetration Sunday night, and it’s been an ongoing problem since the start of the season.
UP NEXT: The Warriors don’t have a lot of time to dwell on this loss. They’re back at it Monday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The T’Wolves are terrible, and I would normally say this is a perfect opportunity for the Warriors to plug up some holes and get their second win of the season against an inferior opponent. But this Warriors team continues to disappoint, so all bets are off. The Warriors are 1-4. The Timberwolves are 1-6. Somebody’s going to come away with win No. 2. Hopefully it’s the Warriors.