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SACRAMENTO — In the second quarter with the Warriors down 13 points, head coach Steve Kerr stepped on the court, glared at official Jason Goldenberg and yelled, “Wake your a– up!”
He was promptly ejected from Monday night’s game as the Warriors lost 111-98 to the Kings at Golden 1 Center.
Kerr’s fiery outburst with 1:14 left in the first half did nothing to change the official’s mind about a continuation call awarded to Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, nor did it urge Golden State to turn around one of their worst offensive performances of the season.
Missing guard D’Angelo Russell (right shoulder contusion) and forward Draymond Green (right ankle sprain), the Warriors (9-29) missed their first 17 3-point attempts. Only when forward Glenn Robinson III converted a 25-foot jumper with 7 minutes left in the third quarter did the Warriors make their first shot from beyond the arc. By then, it was too late.
“Obviously we couldn’t shoot the ball well tonight,” said associate head coach Mike Brown, who took over as acting head coach after Kerr’s ejection. “In situations like that, Steve said it best — he told our team afterwards, ‘It’s got to start defensively.’ We have to start coming out with a bit more intensity.”
Entering the night with the league’s worst-rated offense, the Warriors produced yet another uninspired performance. After they committed six turnovers and gave up 20 points in the paint, the Warriors trailed the Kings 26-19 after the first quarter. By halftime, they had dug a 12-point hole.
Guided by guard Buddy Hield (21 points on 7-for-17 shooting, five assists) and Fox (21 points on 7-for-14 shooting, seven assists, four rebounds), the Kings then went on to outscore the Warriors 38-24 in the third quarter as their lead ballooned to 31 points.
A fruitless shooting night for Golden State was only exacerbated by Sacramento’s proficiency, as the Kings (14-23) made 47.6% of their attempts, including 15-of-30 from 3-point range. The Warriors shot 39.5% overall and went just 5-for-26 on 3-point attempts.
There were a few encouraging moments. In the final minute of the third quarter, rookie guard Ky Bowman, guarding Cory Joseph at halfcourt, stripped the ball and made a contested layup.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, rookie center Alen Smailagic pump-faked from the top of the arc and finished with a finger-roll as the 19-year-old continues to show why he’s Golden State’s most intriguing long-term prospect.
Later, Bowman’s swipe of Fox and a loose-ball recovery by Smailagic launched a three-pass fast break punctuated by Bowman’s layup.
But with Russell sidelined for his fourth straight game and Green out, the Warriors were without direction and valuable shot-making for most of the game.
Golden State expects to get both back for Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Chase Center, when they will face the team with the league’s best record, top-rated defense and the reigning MVP.
A few more thoughts…
1. Marquese Chriss waived: In the locker room following Monday night’s loss, the Warriors informed center Marquese Chriss he was being waived.
Chriss signed a non-guaranteed contract during training camp that would have become fully guaranteed on Jan. 10. He played his final game for Golden State in his hometown of Sacramento.
The move will allow the Warriors to promote guard Damion Lee, who has emerged as the team’s starting shooting guard, to the 15-man roster. After Monday, Lee had only two more days remaining of the 45 days he’s allowed to spend with Golden State under his two-way contract.
Waiving Chriss was the front office’s last resort. They had been seeking to find a trade destination for 28-year-old guard Alec Burks but, when a trade did not materialize, they decided to waive Chriss before his contract became guaranteed. It wasn’t the preferred option, but it was the easiest.
In the preseason, Chriss impressed coaches with his passing and athleticism, and earned the final roster spot over forward Alfonzo McKinnie. At 22, he could have played a part of the team’s rotation at center next season.
After he averaged 7.3 points on 49.2% shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists and 17.8 minutes in 36 games this season, he’s helped himself shed his reputation as an immature player and should sign somewhere else.
2. Eric Paschall battling the rookie wall: In December, Kerr warned that Paschall could be nudging up against the rookie wall. A little more than 20 games into the season, the 23-year-old rookie started dealing with nagging injuries, mostly to his hips. Fatigue and lingering soreness have affected his play over the last month.
Since his minutes dipped below 30 per game near the start of December, Paschall entered Monday night’s game averaging 6.3 points on 40% shooting (28.6% from 3-point range), 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 16.5 minutes per game.
Before that, he had averaged 17.1 points on 50.7% shooting (30.4% from 3-point range), 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 31.9 minutes per game and was in the mix for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.
“It doesn’t really matter whether it’s considered a wall or injuries,” Kerr said after shootaround Monday. “Either way, he got side-tracked a few weeks ago but he looks better, he looks healthier. I think he’s rounding back into form.”
Green’s injury thrust Paschall into the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 11, and he finished with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting, four rebounds and an assist in 31 minutes. What made Paschall stand out early in the season was his ability to barrel to the rim. He showed a few flashes of that Monday, with three of his five made buckets coming within 6 feet of the basket.
“Just getting back in the swing of things,” Paschall said. “I’ll be alright.”
3. Willie Cauley-Stein’s reception: When Willie Cauley-Stein arrived in Sacramento Sunday night, he took a drive around his old neighborhood, and was reminded by how quiet it was.
His four-year stint with the Kings was tumultuous, when he was the frequent target of fans frustrated by the team’s on-court performance. Last summer, he was ready for a change, and asked Sacramento to let him become a free agent and signed with the Warriors. Monday night was his first time playing in front of those fans at Golden 1 Center.
When asked about what he anticipated for his reception, Cauley-Stein said, “Shoot, probably both love and hate. That’s how it goes when you leave an organization.”
The crowd greeted Cauley-Stein with a smattering of half-hearted boos. It seemed more obligatory than impassioned.
Willie Cauley-Stein predictably greeted by boos in Sacramento. pic.twitter.com/MtAfCsh7II
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) January 7, 2020
4. Kerr’s ejection: That was the third ejection of Kerr’s five-year coaching career, and his second in Sacramento. Though he’s shown uncommon poise during his first losing season as coach, Kerr has at times lost his temper. He memorably broke a clipboard in a loss to the Bulls the day before Thanksgiving, cutting his hand in the process.
LOL at Steve Kerr yelling at the ref “wake your ass up” pic.twitter.com/bJbFAkr8sM
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) January 7, 2020
5. A new losing streak: After winning four straight games, the Warriors are suddenly staring at a five-game losing streak, tied for their second-longest of the season. They now have just one more win than the 8-29 Hawks.
During the win streak, it seemed like the Warriors may play themselves out of favorable lottery odds. While the losing streak mostly coincides with Russell’s absence, it also puts Golden State back in the mix to land the No. 1 pick, with their current odds at 14%.
The bottom four teams in the standings all have better than a 50% chance of getting a top-four pick in June’s NBA Draft.
Golden State 9-29
New York 10-26