SAN FRANCISCO — This one had all the makings of a “trap game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before tipoff Wednesday.
His team was bleary eyed. Their opponents, the Sacramento Kings, were missing their star guard, De’Aaron Fox. It would be easy to overlook this one-off home game sandwiched between trips to New Orleans and Oklahoma City and five more games away from Chase Center.
Despite all those factors, together with an off-night for Steph Curry, the Warriors prevailed, 102-101, to earn their first win in front of their home fans.
It took until the the 6-minute mark of the second quarter for Curry to make his second shot from the field, but he finished with a team-high 21 points. Down 1 with less than a minute to play, Curry crossed over behind his back and converted an acrobatic go-ahead layup.
But it took the heroics of Klay Thompson to seal the victory after Damontas Sabonis answered with a bank-shot jumper. Two tenths of a second were left on the clock when Thompson’s jumper from the foul line found net for the decisive bucket.
The two teams from Northern California were meeting for the 13th time since the start of last season, and it showed. They traded leads 12 times.
In absence of a dominating effort from Curry — a season-low in scoring and a season-high in turnovers — Golden State kept it close, never trailing by more than 11, with contributions from its supporting cast. Six players finished in double-digits, including newcomer Dario Saric, who knocked down a couple clutch 3-point shots while turning in his best game as a Warrior, finishing with 15 points.
Andrew Wiggins held down the fort in the first half, scoring 12 of his season-high 14 points before halftime.
Jonathan Kuminga, who was a game-time decision with a right knee contusion, contributed 12, including a 6-point swing in the second quarter where he knocked down a 3-pointer on one end of the floor, intercepted a pass, ran the length of the floor and converted an and-one opportunity on the fast break.
Thompson’s last-second jumper gave him 14 points, while Draymond Green contributed 13 to go with nine assists.
Curry, who had combined for 91 points in his last two games against the Kings, only attempted 15 shots from the field but knocked down seven of them.
However, he turned the ball over seven times, his most of the season and the most on the team.
Not counting their two preseason matchups, it was the 13th time the Warriors and Kings have met since the start of last season. Golden State took three of four last regular season and prevailed, four games to three, in the Western Conference semifinals. They have two more meetings on the schedule this season: the opening game of the NBA’s new in-season tournament, Nov. 28 in Sacramento, and again Jan. 25 in San Francisco.
After the Warriors won the first meeting this season, 122-114 last Friday in Sacramento, Curry was asked if there was a rivalry brewing between the two Northern California teams, separated by about 90 minutes on I-80. It was more of a “familiarity,” the Golden State star said.
Midway through the second quarter, a tightly defended Curry flipped an over-the-shoulder pass expecting Wiggins to break to the basket. Wiggins instead bolted for the 3-point line, and the pass sailed into the hands of Kevin Huerter. Curry looked to the ceiling. To that point, it had been one of those nights.
The Warriors had outscored their first four opponents in the third quarter by 47 points (142-95), including a 12-point margin that allowed them to pull away last Friday, but had the tables turned on them. Taking a 56-55 advantage into halftime, the Warriors managed only 18 points in the 12 minutes after intermission, matching their lowest-scoring period of the season.
Meanwhile, Sacramento scored the first eight points of the third quarter, building its biggest lead of the game when Keegan Murray sank a fadeaway jumper to cap a 13-2 run that made it 69-58. But Golden State responded with a 13-3 run of its own, Saric sinking a second-chance 3-pointer that electrified the sellout crowd of 18,064 and forced Mike Brown to call timeout. Picking and popping at the top of the key, Sacric sank another 3-ball on a feed from Paul to even the score at 74.