The Golden State Warriors own the worst record in the NBA and the possibility of a turnaround seems exceptionally bleak.
But don’t tell that to Warriors coach Steve Kerr as he thinks his squad is on the verge of displaying some major progress as it enters Sunday’s home game against the Sacramento Kings.
“I like where we’re heading. I really do,” Kerr told reporters after Friday’s 114-106 road loss to the Utah Jazz. “I know that may sound crazy, because of our record, but I think we’re going to start winning some games. I think we’re getting better.”
Wildly optimistic might fit with the Warriors sitting 5-22 and still looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Playing without the star backcourt of Stephen Curry (hand) and Klay Thompson (knee) has been a dagger for a team that also lost star forward Kevin Durant as a free agent in the offseason. But Kerr said he could tell in training camp that his team was in trouble.
“I don’t think the general public really saw what was happening until Steph’s injury, but, where we were as a team before Steph’s injury, we were going to take a huge drop,” Kerr told reporters while referring to departures that included Andre Iguodala (trade) and Shaun Livingston (retirement).
Losses of all types have become the norm — the worst was a 142-94 shellacking at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 20 — for a team that won three NBA titles over the past five seasons.
Forward Draymond Green, the one star currently suiting up, was rested for the loss to Utah. Forward Eric Paschall (hip) also missed the game.
Guards Alec Burks (24 points) and Damion Lee (21) were the high scorers against the Jazz.
The contest with Sacramento begins a stretch in which the Warriors play six of seven games at home. However, Golden State is just 2-9 at the brand-new Chase Center in San Francisco after moving across the bay from Oakland.
The good news: The Warriors have won six straight games against the Kings. Last season, Golden State won all four meetings, and each was decided by five points or less.
Sacramento had its season-best three-game winning streak halted Friday when it blew a 16-point, third-quarter lead and succumbed 103-101 to the visiting New York Knicks.
Two of the recent victories were courtesy of late game-winning shots and coach Luke Walton felt that had something to do with Friday’s collapse.
“We’ve had some nice emotional wins lately, and in the past that has caused us to have a letdown,” Walton said afterward. “We built up a nice lead and we didn’t maintain it. We fell off. The Knicks imposed their will on us.”
Sacramento wasted a big effort from shooting guard Buddy Hield, who scored 34 points and grabbed a career-best 12 rebounds. Hield made 6 of 13 3-point attempts and has knocked down at least five in each of the past four games.
The fourth-year pro has topped 20 points in 10 consecutive games and is averaging 26.5 points during the stretch.
Reserve point guard Cory Joseph said the Kings quit being aggressive and began to relax with their big lead.
“We took our foot off the pedal and we let them come back and stick around,” he said. “We let them come back to a close game. … We’ve got to learn from this. We’ve got to play harder for the full 48 minutes.”
The game against the Warriors is the opener of a four-game road trip for Sacramento.
–Field Level Media