Long since eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race, the Golden State Warriors have done plenty of damage lately to some teams that haven’t been.
After three straight eye-opening victories over West playoff clubs, the Warriors get a look at a fellow lottery team as they try to extend their winning streak Sunday against the Sacramento Kings.
The Warriors (35-44) are 10 games out of postseason position in the West, but some of the teams that will keep playing beyond Wednesday have found they’re hardly a pushover. Golden State beat Dallas 99-92 last Saturday, routed Portland 108-87 on the road Tuesday and came home to knock off the Los Angeles Lakers 95-87 one night later.
“I think when you get a chance to play (good teams) people may say, ‘they’re not playing for anything,’” coach Keith Smart said. “Well (the players) know what we are trying to do. Those people in that locker room know what we are trying to do.”
“We’ve just been playing both halves,” Ellis said. “Mainly I think it’s our defense, limiting teams to one possession versus getting second-chance points. And then getting out and running and making shots.”
Limiting turnovers has also helped, as the Warriors have averaged 12.0 in their three straight wins - 2.8 fewer than they committed per game coming in. Golden State has gone 11-8 in its last 19 games in which it has turned the ball over 12 or fewer times.
The Warriors will have two more chances to hurt playoff teams when they visit Denver on Monday and host Portland on Wednesday. First, they’ll try to match their longest winning streak of the season when they take on Sacramento (23-56).
Their first four-game run of 2010-11 was capped by a 119-112 overtime home victory over the Kings on Jan. 21, one of three wildly high-scoring games the Pacific Division rivals have played. Golden State won 117-109 in OT on Dec. 21 behind 36 points from Ellis, and the Kings defeated the Warriors 129-119 on March 14 thanks to a career-high 42 from Marcus Thornton(notes).
Sacramento had an opportunity to delay Memphis’ clinching of a playoff spot Friday, but couldn’t quite get it done. The Kings rallied from 12 down late in the third to pull within one with 39 seconds left, but didn’t score again in a 101-96 loss.
“We had a great chance to win, especially down the stretch in the final seconds,” coach Paul Westphal said. “It didn’t go our way.”
Golden State has averaged 124.6 points while going 8-1 in its last nine home games versus Sacramento.