After flipping the ball behind his back late in the third quarter, Stephen Curry didn’t need to watch as his teammate, Kevon Looney, slid an uncontested layup into the net.
Instead, he curled his hands around his eyes, peering to the Warriors bench as if he were holding a pair of binoculars, celebrating his eighth assist of the night.
Curry’s pass and subsequent celebration represented a theme for Golden State’s evening: ball movement.
After struggling in the first few games of the season with offensive flow, the Warriors seemingly found their groove Monday night. In a 137-106 dismantling of the Sacramento Kings (3-4), Golden State (4-3) recorded 41 assists, the highest total of its young season.
“It seemed like everyone was in sync,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game, “[They] understood that you just move the ball on… It was nice to see.”
Since taking over as head coach, Kerr’s primary focus offensively has been that fluidity and ball movement. Three championships have validated his philosophy but as of late, the execution behind this style of play was missing.
Just two nights earlier, the Warriors suffered a 25-point gashing at the hands of the Portland Trailblazers. Failing to score more than 100 points for the third time in three games, the Warriors only dished 19 assists while turning the ball over 15 times.
Monday was destined to go differently, however, as demonstrated by Golden State’s first half.
By stringing together their fifth and sixth-consecutive quarters scoring 30 points or more, the Warriors opened up a 20-point lead by halftime.
It’s no coincidence that Draymond Green, who is working through a minutes restriction after coming back from a strain in his right foot, was in the middle of this breakthrough.
“Draymond has helped a lot as far as getting us organized,” Curry said. “Especially when I get off the ball. You start to see the picture a little bit clearer.”
Handing out five assists in the first half, Green quickly assumed his role as a facilitator. Perhaps the most familiar of Green’s five dishes to Warriors fans was the give-and-go set on the left wing with Curry, which resulted in another uncontested layup.
As the only two starters from Golden State’s last championship campaign in 2019 active on the Warriors roster, it was only fitting that the chemistry was alive and present between the two on the court.
“Steph is the flow. He creates the flow,” Green said regarding his teammate. “When he’s playing the way he’s playing the last two nights, it allows everyone else to get into a flow.”
Coming off of a career-scoring evening on Sunday as he scored 62 points against the Blazers, Curry’s hot shooting was also on full display. Of his 30 points on the night, 23 came in the first half.
But it wasn’t just his shooting that finally gave Golden State its rhythm back. Rather, Curry’s passing also shone through. This was most evident as the Kings attempted to climb back into the game midway through the third quarter, trimming the Warriors lead to just 15 points.
In a sequence that included a bullet pass to Warriors wing Kent Bazemore which was passed to Looney and the graceful behind-the-back flip again to the sixth-year center, Golden State ballooned it’s lead back to 19 and on to 25 points by the end of the frame.
Several of Curry’s passes would lead to open Warriors’ three-point shots, including three from starting guard Kelly Oubre. Oubre entered Monday night shooting 2-for-30 from distance. Thanks to some open looks, though, Oubre finished the night with four triples on six attempts.
With such a large advantage, sparked by Curry’s vision and passing, Golden State was provided the luxury of being able to sit its starters in the fourth quarter.
That extra rest will be needed, too, as the Warriors will face the Los Angeles Clippers (5-2), who lead the Pacific division, twice over the next four nights. But as the schedule ramps up, the Warriors want to make sure their effort moving the ball doesn’t fade.
“That’s who we want to be. We have to use each other’s strengths,” Green said. “We have to make sure we continue to use that. Continue to build on that and more importantly, continue to trust the next guy.”