SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Warriors have beaten the best teams on the road, including the Brooklyn Nets and the defending world champion Miami Heat. But they’ve also lost twice this month to the Orlando Magic at home and away. And they always seem to have trouble in the Capital City.
Although the Warriors had the 17-8 record and the Kings were 7-17, you don’t win games on paper. A 90 mile drive from Oakland to Sacramento created a very competitive Northern California rivalry that has lasted nearly 30 years.
In a shootout, Sacramento scored a season high in points and although they blew a 15-point lead, they held off Golden State, 131-127.
In the win, center DeMarcus Cousins scored 24 points and point guard Aaron Brooks added 23 as the Kings ended a five game losing streak.
“Since I got here it’s been a rivalry,” said Kings guard Marcus Thornton who scored 19 points off the bench. “The fans get into it, we get into it more because of the fans. So every time we play them it’s always intense. We just always try to come out ahead.”
In defeat, Golden State had a game high 32 points from Stephen Curry and David Lee added 29. The Warriors have lost only three games in December, twice to the Orlando Magic and this game against Sacramento. Both the Magic and Kings have losing records.
Warriors head coach Mark Jackson bristled when asked if his team played down to the level of their opponent.
“That’s comical man,” Jackson said. “We are a team that can be beaten by the best and beaten by the worst. We have to play our brand of basketball in order to stay successful and when we don’t we can be disappointed.”
The game was tied 118-all with 2:13 left when Curry fouled out trying to defend against John Salmons.
Brooks 3-pointer with 1:40 from the baseline put Sacramento up by four points. After a free throw by Jarrett Jack, it was another Thornton triple to extend the Kings lead to six points with a minute remaining.
Jack tried to draw a foul from the arc with 25.3 seconds left. After cutting it to a three point deficit, the Warriors fouled Cousins. The strategy backfired as Cousins made both foul shots and the Kings led 127-122 with 21.3 seconds left.
After a miss off a shot by Klay Thompson, Jack got the offensive rebound and his shot inside the paint made it a 3-point game with 14.5 seconds to go.
Fredette was fouled and he made both free throws to put the Kings up by five points with just under 12 seconds remaining. But on the Warriors next possession, Sacramento triple teamed Jack leaving Klay Thompson wide open for another three that made it a two point game with 6.3 seconds to play.
Fredette was fouled again on the inbounds play and his perfect 8-for-8 shooting from the line ensured the win.
Jack admitted it was more than a typical loss.
“A loss is a loss. I think there are certain ones throughout the season that you point to that either you can have a positive effect from it, it can be a momentum shift, or it can go the opposite direction. I think for us it’s definitely a wake up call. Luckily for us we’re going back home in front of our fans and hopefully we can get back on track.”
Five of the six upcoming games are at Oracle Arena where the Warriors will host the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
NOTES: The Warriors streak of holding opponents to under 100 points ended at six games. … Despite the loss, the Warriors also scored a season high in points. … Golden State falls to 16-2 when out-rebounding their opponent. They had 42 rebounds while the Kings had 40. … Jarrett Jack scored a season high 28 points off the bench. Jack has scored in double-digits in each of the last six games and twice has scored 20 or more points.