Friday, January 8, 2010

Warriors beat Kings in fourth quarter comeback thriller

End of first half: Kings 61, Warriors 46

The Kings controlled the first half, dominating the final 2:07, and held the Warriors scoreless on a 10-0 run while Monta Ellis rested on the bench.

The Warriors jumped out after the opening tip with high energy. Aggressive play led to four Sacramento team fouls with more than 10 minutes to play in the first quarter, and rsulted in Kings center Spencer Hawes going to the bench with two early fouls. This actually hurt the Warriors as Hawes's replacement, Jon Brockman, gave Sacramento a spark with his size and energy. In the first half, the Kings controlled the game, but didn't pull away.

Tyreke Evans gave the Warriors big problems, continuously getting in the lane. Evans led the Kings in scoring with 25 points, but it was two unlikely sources who hurt the Warriors. Ime Udoka scored 19 points, two points shy of his career high. Udoka shot 4-6 from three point range and grabbed a game high 14 rebounds. Beno Udrih had another solid game against the W's, as he scored 20 points in the Nov. 8 win at Sacramento. This time he went off for 14 points, six boards, and four assists.

At half time, the Warriors chances to win looked doubtful. They failed to score in the final two minutes leading up to half time and lost Anthony Randolph to a nasty looking ankle injury.

The third quarter didn't inspire hope, as the Kings pushed a 15 point half time lead to 18. The Warriors found the energy to cut the lead to 10 points to start the fourth quarter. The change in momentum was keyed by the Warriors taking the ball to the rim rather than settling for perimeter shots.

Two key stats stood out in the dramatic comeback win. First, the Warriors won the battle of turnovers 17-12. The raucous Oracle Arena crowd helped the Warriors force two critical shot clock violations in the fourth quarter. The second stat is free throws. The Warriors were 29-34 and the Kings were 21-25. Corey Maggette shot 12-14 from the line in a 24 point effort. The eight point advantage from the free throw line made the difference in the Warriors seven point win.

Needless to say, Monta Ellis was spectacular, scoring a game high 39 points. The production of Ellis and Maggette give the Warriors a chance to win every night, especially at home. The Warriors could be even better if C.J. Watson or Anthony Morrow contributed 10 a game. Also, I would like to see Steph Curry look for his shot more and continue to build confidence.
Lesson from the win over the Kings: Don't settle for jumpers, get to the rim and get the opponent in foul trouble. Maggette deserves major props for sacraficing his body every night to ignite the offense.

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