The Golden State Warriors hope to put the physical and emotional toll of a return to basketball behind them when they complete a home back-to-back set with a game against the rival Sacramento Kings on Thursday in San Francisco.
The Warriors paid tribute Wednesday to Dejan Milojevic, their assistant coach who died last week, and then rode an inspired effort to a 134-112 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks.
The contest was the Warriors’ first in nine days, with two games having been postponed in the wake of Milojevic’s fatal heart attack during a road trip in Salt Lake City.
Golden State star Stephen Curry noted head coach Steve Kerr didn’t just ask his players to win one for Milojevic, but also to take his joy for the game forward.
The Warriors must now count on a revenge motivation to carry them against a well-rested Kings club that also beat the Hawks in their most recent game, albeit three days ago. Sacramento won that game 122-107.
The Northern California clubs will be completing their four-game season series at just past the midpoint of the schedule. Golden State won the first two meetings before the Kings, needing a victory to clinch a spot in the NBA in-season tournament quarterfinals, pulled out a thrilling 124-123 home triumph in the most recent head-to-head on Nov. 28.
Curry has totaled 91 points in the three games against the Kings, which have come in the wake of the teams’ seven-game, first-round playoff matchup last April. Curry capped that series with a 50-point explosion in a clinching 120-100 win at Sacramento.
Curry’s rival in that series, De’Aaron Fox, managed just 12 points in the Kings’ Monday win over the Hawks. He scored 32, 33 and 24 points in his previous three outings, games Sacramento lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers, respectively, by a total of eight points.
The Warriors have done a good job on Kings big man Domantas Sabonis this season, holding him without a triple-double. He had nine points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in Sacramento’s lone win over Golden State.
Sabonis had a run of three consecutive triple-doubles come to an end Monday, but he dominated that game nonetheless with 21 rebounds to go with 14 points and six assists.
He will take the court Thursday tied with Denver’s Nikola Jokic for the league lead in double-doubles with 38. Sabonis is one behind the recent two-time MVP (13-12) in triple-doubles.
The contest opens a seven-game trip for the Kings, who will be seeing a Golden State team playing for the second time on a four-game homestand.