Among the many remarkable things about the Warriors in this epic win streak of theirs has been the ability to replace a key player or even a head coach as if nothing ever happened.
And so the mother of all rolls continued at Oracle Arena on Saturday night, when Harrison Barnes became the third starter to sit out a game this season. No matter. The Warriors turned the Sacramento Kings into so much roadkill in a 120-101 blowout that extended their win streak to 18 in a row, an NBA record to begin a regular season.
Seldom-used reserve Brandon Rush shook off the cobwebs and promptly went off for 14 points in the third peri0d, when a one-sided game turned into a full-blown rout. He drained 4 of 5 3-pointers in little more than seven minutes.
All that was left was to see if the Curry brothers matchup would come off, but with the outcome no longer in doubt, Stephen never got off the bench in the fourth quarter.
“I looked at [interim coach] Luke [Walton] for a second to see if he’d put me in so I could guard [Seth] for a possession or two, but that was about it,” Curry said.
Draymond Green finished with his second consecutive triple-double — 13 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds. Curry led six double-figure scorers with 19 points and needed only seven field goal tries to get them. Rush finished with 16 points.
The more urgent matter was Barnes in his left ankle, which he sprained in a victory over the Suns in Phoenix one night earlier. He had in played 258 of a possible 263 games in his career before the injury.
It wasn’t clear how long the combo forward would be out of action, but Walton didn’t seem to be optimistic about a quick recovery.
“We don’t know, so it’s all speculation right now,” Walton said of Barnes’ status. “With an ankle sprain, it could be a couple of weeks or it could be one week. We’ll wait to hear back from the doctors and we’ll move on if he’s out.”
The loss of Barnes for an extended peered would be no small one. He has averages of 13.4 points, 1.9 assists and 0.9 steals per game, all of which represent career-highs.
Walton, coach Steve Kerr and the rest of the staff discussed possible options earlier in the day. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston would have expanded roles if Barnes were to be out of action for any length of time.
“We were just kind of brainstorming some different options with the small line-up with possibly playing Andrew at (power forward) and Shaun being the guy to fill in,” said Walton, who discussed the possibilities with Kerr earlier in the day. “We would have Shaun playing Andre’s role and Andre playing Harrison’s role. That’s one option.”