Minus their leading scorer and two backup point guards, the Kings seemed primed to be steamrolled by the NBA’s best team.
That didn’t happen, but the ending was familiar.
The Kings threw all they could at the Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s last undefeated team. The result was a 103-94 loss Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Rajon Rondo posted a triple double, Marco Belinelli had a big game off the bench, and Rudy Gay asserted himself more. But the Kings could not overcome 22 turnovers that led to 29 Warriors points and the second-half resurgence of reigning MVP Stephen Curry, losing their fifth consecutive game.
When the Kings (1-6) host the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, they hope center DeMarcus Cousins (strained right Achilles’ tendon) will be back after a four-game absence. The Kings are awaiting word on the severity of point guard Darren Collison’s strained left hamstring, which forced him to miss Saturday’s game.
After lamenting the energy and effort in recent losses, Kings coach George Karl didn’t come down nearly as hard on his team after Golden State (7-0) needed a late run to pull away.
“I think it was a pretty impressive game by my guys,” Karl said. “They fought through a lot, four games in five nights, and obviously there’s some fatigue out there, (15) turnovers in the first half, and they just kept on fighting.”
Rondo was the catalyst. He had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists for his 23rd career triple double and first this season. It was the Kings’ first triple double since Cousins recorded one April 3. Rondo also had the most assists by a King since Beno Udrih had 15 on March 28, 2010, against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rondo added four steals and was the primary defender on Curry.
“I thought our leader was Rondo,” Karl said. “Rondo was incredibly into the game, incredibly intense. His defense on Curry was first-class. I just wish we would have had a little more gas in the tank to finish out the game.”
Rondo’s jumper put the Kings ahead 79-78 with 6:43 to play. The Warriors countered with a 9-2 run to go ahead to stay.
Curry had 21 of his 24 points in the second half. After making only 1 of 6 shots in the first half, he sank 7 of 12 in the second.
The Kings forced 11 turnovers in the second half and finished with 20 points off 18 turnovers, but it wasn’t enough.
“It’s a lot of good to take out of it as a team, but I think we’re overdue for a win,” Gay said. “We need one bad.”
Gay finished with 22 points on 10-of-25 shooting, and Belinelli added 22 points.
Rondo played 44 minutes because of injuries to Collison and Seth Curry (sprained ankle). It would have been the first time as pros that Seth played against his brother, Stephen.