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Thomas has big night, leads Kings past Warriors

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Associated Press
3/28/2013 1:16:36 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- If the Golden State Warriors can hold on and make the playoffs, they'll be thankful the Sacramento Kings are not standing in their way.

Isaiah Thomas had 31 points and seven assists, DeMarcus Cousins scored 14 points and the Kings put another dent in Golden State's playoff chase by beating the Warriors 105-98 on Wednesday night.

Sacramento, which entered the game an NBA-worst 6-30 on the road, won the season series 3-1.

"I'm just glad we don't have to face them in a seven-game series right now," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

Marcus Thornton added 13 points off the bench, and Tyreke Evans overcame a stomach ailment to score 12 points as Sacramento harassed Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson all night. The Warriors backcourt tandem combined to shoot 6 of 31 from the field.

Sacramento earned its first road win against a team with a winning record all season. The only other Western Conference team the Kings had beaten on the road was Portland -- all the way back on Dec. 8.

Of course, when the Kings and Warriors meet, recent history often means little.

"It's like a little miniseries playoff," said Kings coach Keith Smart, the former Warriors head coach and longtime assistant under Don Nelson.

Whatever the reason, Sacramento has dominated the Warriors this season.

David Lee had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Curry finished with 17 points and 12 assists on a difficult shooting night for the Warriors backcourt. Golden State (41-32) missed a big opportunity to build its lead on seventh-place Houston (39-32), which remains a game back after losing 100-91 to Indiana.

"They basically have owned us throughout the season," said Warriors centre Andrew Bogut, who had 12 points and nine rebounds.

While playoff positioning is paramount for the Warriors, Sacramento sure seemed more energized for the latest -- and perhaps last -- edition of the Northern California rivalry. The NBA is deciding between a bid from a group that wants to buy and relocate the Kings to Seattle and a counteroffer from a Sacramento group. A decision is expected by mid-April.

After going down 13 points at the start of the fourth quarter, Golden State tried to rally late behind a 26th straight sellout crowd announced at 19,596.

Harrison Barnes stole Patrick Patterson's pass and finished a layup on the other end to slice Sacramento's lead to 93-88 with a little more than 3 minutes to play. The Warriors just had no answer for the Kings on defence, often mixing up assignments -- or forgetting them altogether.

Thomas answered with a step-back 3-pointer off a screen, hitting the shot over Bogut and reserve Kent Bazemore. Both players went underneath and left Thomas open.

"There's no excuse for it, especially at this point in the season," Bogut said. "No disrespect to Sacramento, but we're playing for more than April 17."

Jarrett Jack came back with a running jump shot to bring the Warriors within six. They forced a stop before Curry missed a runner that sent fans heading for the exits. Curry finished 5 for 18 from the floor, while Thompson was 1 for 13.

Both teams shot 45.6 per cent.

Toney Douglas' free throws put the Kings ahead by eight with 32 seconds left, and then Sacramento got sloppy. Curry made a layup, then stole the inbounds pass from Patterson for another layup to trim the Kings' lead to 100-96 with 20 seconds remaining before Sacramento sealed the game on free throws.

"I think it's deeper than (matchups)," said Thomas, who shot 10 of 18. "The game before tonight we didn't really play too well. They killed us in everything, so I don't think it's just the matchups. We just came out and executed."

Most of the game followed the familiar Kings-Warriors script.

Offensive outbursts led to defensive droughts. Dazzling dunks morphed into poor finishes. And any time an offence flowed for a long stretch, eventually the rhythm shattered.

John Salmons started the silliness with a shot from beyond the arc while getting fouled by Barnes on the game's first play. The four-point play helped the Kings go ahead 12-2 before they hit their first rut.

The Warriors received contributions from all over during a 31-12 run that lasted midway through the second quarter. Lee and Bogut highlighted the spurt with a series of uncontested dunks off pick-and-rolls, often making an extra pass to the other inside to give Golden State a 33-24 lead.

There were 10 lead changes and five ties in the first half alone. The Kings led 47-44 at the break.

Sacramento surged ahead 64-52 in the third quarter after a 13-0 run sparked by Thomas, who scored 17 points in the third quarter, including going 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. The undersized point guard punctuated the period with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc in the face of Curry that put the Kings up 77-66.

If this really was the last time these teams meet as Northern California neighbours, the margin couldn't be closer. The series is tied 185-185.

NOTES: Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, who attended Oakland's McClymonds High School and the University of San Francisco, sat in a courtside seat next to Warriors executive board member Jerry West and team owner Joe Lacob in the first half. ... Curry made his 600th and 601st career 3-pointer.

Isaiah Thomas (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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