The Golden State Warriors can afford to give Kevin Durant all the time he needs to rest a sore ankle if they keep playing like they did in the last two games. The Warriors will try to sweep a three-game homestand with another convincing victory when they host the Sacramento Kings on Monday.
Durant missed the first two games of the homestand and is day-to-day, but Golden State did not have much need for another scorer in a 143-94 thrashing of the Chicago Bulls on Friday and did their best work on the defensive end despite being without the long-armed forward in Saturday’s 110-95 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans. The Warriors were outscored 31-17 in the first quarter on Saturday before buckling down and outscoring the Pelicans 93-64 the rest of the way. The Kings dropped six of their last eight games and missed out on a chance at a winning three-game homestand when they couldn’t get the shot they needed in the final seconds of a 97-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Sacramento provides a stark contrast to Golden State on the offensive end, where it is last in the NBA in scoring average (94.3) while the Warriors are first (117.4).
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCS California (Sacramento), NBCS Bay Area (Golden State)
ABOUT THE KINGS (5-14): Sacramento is trying to build itself into a winner and continues to get encouraging — if inconsistent — performances from its young players. Center Willie Cauley-Stein, 24, exploded for 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting in a 113-102 win over the Lakers on Wednesday but combined for 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting in the other two games during the homestand. Shooting guard Buddy Hield, 23, missed the first game of the homestand with an ankle injury and was limited to 15 minutes against the Lakers before going 7-of-9 from 3-point range and exploding for 27 points off the bench in Saturday’s setback.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (15-5): Stephen Curry is picking up some of the offensive slack in Durant’s absence but missed his first 10 field-goal attempts on Saturday before going 9-of-15 the rest of the way and finishing with 27 points. “It takes a special kind of confidence to do what Steph did tonight,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “I think he was like 0-for-10. I would have quit after like four shots and said, ‘It’s not my night.’ Guys like Steph, MVP-caliber players, they find a way to turn a bad night into a good one.” Curry is averaging 31.6 points over the last five contests, including 33 in the three games Durant missed.
1. Warriors SF Andre Iguodala scored a season-high 14 points in Saturday’s win.
2. Sacramento PF Zach Randolph is averaging 17 points over the last four games.
3. Golden State won 15 of the last 16 meetings in the series.
PREDICTION: Warriors 120, Kings 95