SACRAMENTO -- Andrew Bogut said this was coming. Inferior teams looking up at Golden State would bring their best against the Warriors. The answer, Bogut said, is to "step on their throat" and crush their hopes.
Wednesday, Golden State had the Kings on the mat, leading by as much as 17. But there was no neck-stepping. Instead, the Warriors blew that lead and lost the preseason game, 91-90.
This one had a midseason feel to it. Hard fouls. Rampant trash talk. Emotional runs. Even a flagrant foul. And when it was all said and done, the Warriors succumbed.
A good preseason lesson or a weakness exposed?
"A hard lesson learned," Bogut said after totaling 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. "We're the top dog now. Teams are going to come after us ... especially teams that aren't supposed to beat us on paper, they're going to give us their best shot. If we don't come to play -- especially against a free-flowing team like Sacramento who gets up and down, shoots a lot of threes -- it's going to be a tough game."
After a close first half, it looked as if the Warriors were ready to assert their superiority and put the Kings away. Stephen Curry -- who finished with 24 points, six assists and three steals -- scored 14 points in the third quarter. His hit four from deep in the quarter, the last putting Golden State up 74-57 with just over four minutes left in the third.
But Golden State managed one point on its next seven possessions, turning the ball over three times. That paved the way for an 11-1 Kings run to trim Golden State's lead to seven.
The Warriors led by 11 after three quarters and pushed their advantage to 84-70 after a Toney Douglas layup at the 9:45 mark of the fourth quarter. But Golden State went scoreless on its next six possessions. Kings rookie guard Ben McLemore capped a 10-0 Sacramento run with a 3-pointer at the 7:12 mark.
"We need to do a better job of not letting teams back in the game," David Lee said. "When the lead goes from 18 to 10 to six, now a team like Sacramento thinks they have a shot. And then it comes down to plays at the end when it should've been over."
Perhaps it was the rust brought on by the China trip, or the edginess of the game, but the Warriors hardly looked efficient down the stretch.
Golden State was 3 of 19 from the field in the fourth quarter with five turnovers. They were out-rebounded 17 to 12, giving up four offensive rebounds (two of them coming at the worst time).
Two jumpers and a pair of free throws by Kings' John Salmons tied the game at 86. Curry split a pair of free throws to give the Warriors the lead again with 3:07 left. Guard Isaiah Thomas put Sacramento ahead 88-87 with a falling-down bank shot from the right wing after a near steal by Curry. But the Warriors point guard answered with a pull-up jumper. Golden State led by a point with 1:17 left.
The Kings had the ball down one inside a minute left. The Warriors gave up two offensive rebounds off bricked 3-pointers. The second, with the Warriors defense in scatter mode, led to Salmons burying a wide-open 3 with 7.6 seconds left, putting the Warriors down 91-89.
Lee got fouled with 1.2 seconds left. But he missed a chance to tie it by bricking the last free throw.
"We didn't have our best shooting quarter that fourth quarter," Lee said. "But it shouldn't have mattered. It should have been out of reach. "
Coach Mark Jackson said Barnes was being held out as a precaution and wouldn't play in Thursday's preseason finale.
He ran down court holding his mouth. He shouted to the bench and headed for the locker room.
At the 6:16 mark, Lee checked back into the game though, letting the media table know what happened.
"It bent all the way back in my mouth," Lee said of his tooth, presumably an implant.
Portland at Warriors, 7:30 p.m. No TV