by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
A single-digit margin of victory?  Typical result when the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors get together.

After a dud of a game in November, the two Northern California rivals did not disappoint in their second match-up this season.  But yet again, the Kings wound up on the receiving end of defeat, this time losing a 115-113 thriller to the Warriors at Sleep Train Arena.

“Our guys have a ‘no-quit’ attitude,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the loss. “I challenge them a lot. I never want to be a team that just rolls over. What I like about our guys is that it could’ve been a 16-point deficit that turned into 30, but it turned into a two-point lead and giving ourselves a chance. We were only one defensive rebound away from winning that game.”

The Kings trailed by as many as 16 points and entered the fourth quarter down 90-80.  Their comeback was powered by reserves Patrick Patterson and Marcus Thornton along with DeMarcus Cousins, who overcame foul trouble to score eight of his 24 points in the final period.

In the final minute, the Kings turned to Cousins, who delivered with baskets on back-to-back possessions to tie the game.  His star-power however was matched by Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who scored six of the Warriors’ last eight points in final 2:30 of the game.

“Every shot that he took was contested – heavily contested,” Kings guard Isaiah Thomas said of his Warriors’ counterpart.  “You’ve got to take your hat off to a guy like that. He hit some tough shots and carried his team.”

After struggling much of the year on offense, the Kings shot a season-high 52.6 percent from field.  Turnovers, however, were their undoing as they committed 24 miscues that led to 33 Warrior points.

“We turned the ball over a lot tonight just with simple plays,” Cousins said after the game. “It hurt us a lot in the game and they ended up converting a lot off of those turnovers. But like I said, we ended up fighting back, played through that adversity and made it a good game.”

The game overcame a bizarre start when the power went out at Sleep Train Arena just before the Kings were introduced to the home crowd.  The outage delayed the start of the game for about ten minutes as arena employees worked to restore power.

The loss drops the Kings’ record to 4-11 overall and 3-7 at home.  They’ve now lost four-straight games after previously winning back-to-back contests against the Phoenix Suns.  They return to action on Tuesday when they host the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder.

Notes and Analysis

  • DeMarcus Cousins was good in limited minutes tonight, scoring a team-high 24 points in 21, foul-plagued minutes of action. Cousins shot went an impressive 10-for-13 from the field and added six rebounds in the loss. When the game was on the line, Cousins went right at a very good post defender in Andrew Bogut.
  • Marcus Thornton shook off the rust and scored 21 second half points off of coach Malone’s bench. The veteran guard shot 6-for-11 from the field and 5-for-8 from behind the arc in 30 minutes of play.
  • Isaiah Thomas’ stats look good at first glance – 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds in 34 minutes. But Thomas had seven of the team’s season-tying-high 24 turnovers. There was a two minute stretch in the second quarter when the Kings turned the ball over on six straight possessions and three of those were on Thomas.
  • If Sacramento won this game, Patrick Patterson would have been the quiet hero. In 27 minutes, Patterson scored 18 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting. He added seven rebounds and three assists and did a very solid job of holding David Lee in check as a scorer and on the glass. This was Patterson’s most complete game of the season.
  • Jason Thompson came to play as well this afternoon. The Kings starting power forward scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 27 minutes. Thompson looks like he might be settling into his position next to Cousins after a rough couple of games.
  • After a breakout first game, Derrick Williams struggled to get going Sunday, finishing with four points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. This is going to be a work in progress. You rarely see players traded this early in the season, so it will take some time for him to acclimate to a new system with a team full of players who are also still trying to find their way as well.
  • The Kings have no answer for the Warriors starting backcourt. Steph Curry ate both Greivis Vasquez and Thomas alive, scoring a game-high 36 points on 14-for-24 shooting. Malone turned to John Salmons late in the game and result was a foul, followed by two game-winning free throws.
  • Sacramento’s guards didn’t do any better against Klay Thompson. Thompson score 28 points and set a new career-high in made 3-pointers with eight. Overall, the Warriors shot 15-for-25 (60 percent) from 3-point range, which really stands out in a two-point loss.
  • Stat of the Night: The Warriors starting backcourt of Curry and Thompson outscored the Kings starting backcourt of Greivis Vasquez and Ben McLemore 64-10.

Quote of the Game

Malone on the turnovers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson:

“The turnovers made a big difference. What’s funny is that you look at our season and see that we’ve done a very good job at taking care of the basketball. I addressed that with them at halftime. To give the Warriors, who has enough offensive power and needs no extra help, all of those extra possessions and 33 points makes it really hard on you. Now Klay and Steph, we can’t let them get to the 3-point line like we did. We got down 16 in the second half and had a great comeback, our well-powered guys played. If you give Klay Thompson space and room, it’s going to be a long night.”