The Kings did not sound resigned to the fact they had no chance of winning Saturday night, even if most thought that to be the case.
But they still walked away shaking their heads in amazement at what the Golden State Warriors are doing this season.
The Kings played competitively in the first quarter and seemed in it at halftime, but they unraveled in the third quarter and couldn’t recover in a 120-101 loss to the undefeated Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Golden State improved its historic start to 18-0.
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Kings guard Rajon Rondo couldn’t explain what happened.
“(Shoot) I don’t know,” he said. “It happened fast.”
The Kings (6-12) trailed 56-46 at halftime and less than five minutes into the third quarter, that deficit increased to 23. The rout was on.
The Kings would be underdogs at full strength against the Warriors, but with forward-center DeMarcus Cousins missing a third consecutive game with a lower back strain, the Kings didn’t have an All-Star to counter Golden State’s All-Star backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and the Warriors’ overall depth.
All things considered, Kings coach George Karl wasn’t too down about the result.
“You always examine everything – what’s disappointing,” Karl said. “Overreacting to this game, to a team that’s 18-0, to a team that’s beating people by an averaging of 14, 15 points a game and you don’t have your best player? I think that would be an overreaction.”
The Kings led for much of the first quarter before the Warriors began to assert themselves. Sacramento trailed 30-29 after the first quarter, and it couldn’t stop the impending surge.
“You’ve got to play an almost perfect game,” said Kings forward Rudy Gay. “They’re playing with confidence, obviously, they’re undefeated. You’ve got play with composure, you can’t turn the ball over which we did (15 times).”
Curry led the Warriors with 19 points and did not play in the fourth quarter of the blowout. Brandon Rush, who started for the injured Harrison Barnes, scored 16 points, including 14 in the third when the Warriors put the game away.
Draymond Green posted his second consecutive triple-double for the Warriors with 13 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds.
Golden State shot 16 for 30 from three-point range and 48.8 percent from the floor.
The Kings lacked offense to keep up, shooting 39 percent with their other two key players both having off-nights.
Gay had 20 points, but shot just 7 for 20. Rondo had seven points and seven assists and shot 3 for 10.
“They’re in a great rhythm,” Rondo said. “They’re a well-oiled machine. … It’s hard to beat a team like that when you can only prepare for them for a day, or one shootaround. They’re ahead of the game.”
Karl left the game more impressed with the Warriors than down on the Kings.
He hopes to have Cousins back Monday when the Kings host the Dallas Mavericks. Thankfully for the Kings, even without Cousins, playing the Mavericks (10-7) is not like playing the Warriors.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better shooting team or a better passing team in my career coaching,” Karl said. “You give them an opportunity or you give them a mistake, they usually find it with the pass then a lot of times they find it with the three ball.”