SACRAMENTO — The Northern California rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings has been reduced to a clumsy tango between draft lottery-bound franchises.
But whose fans have bragging rights?
"Who has the most wins?" guard C.J. Watson said.
After the 99-96 gut-wrenching loss the Warriors received Tuesday at Arco Arena, the Kings have three more victories than Golden State.
"Well," Watson concluded, "there you go."
The Warriors (13-30), who were playing without injured guard Monta Ellis for the second consecutive game, had been dominated most of the night by the Kings (16-28), losers of seven straight entering the game. But Golden State fought back behind to put the fear of the Bay Area into the Kings down the stretch. However, it got only close enough for in to be another heartbreaking defeat.
The Warriors outscored the Kings by eight points in the second half but couldn't overcome a 21-point deficit. Couldn't overcome 31.9 percent shooting. Couldn't overcome being out-rebounded 68-49.
Rookie guard Stephen Curry put together easily one of his best games as a pro, finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He also put the clamps on Kings rookie guard Tyreke Evans down the stretch. Evans finished with 23 points on 8-for-21 shooting but was 0-for-7 in the fourth quarter.
"It felt like we were right there," Curry said. "We just didn't make enough shots to win the game."
Forward Corey Maggette missed his first 15 shots of the game. He was close to tying the franchise record for most attempts without a make (17, set by Tim Hardaway at Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1991) before nailing a turnaround jumper at the 8:17 mark of the fourth quarter. But he scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Maggette finished 3-of-22 shooting.
But it was Maggette's free throws that capped a 14-4 Warriors run, cutting the Kings' lead to 82-79 with 6:12 left. Sacramento went back up by 11, but the Warriors went on another run.
A four-point play in front of the Warriors bench by Curry cut the Kings' lead to 92-86. Moments later, Maggette dropped in a layup, and swingman Cartier Martin — who had 20 points starting in place of Ellis — followed a missed jumper by Evans with a fast-break layup. The Warriors trailed 94-92 with 24 seconds remaining.
But after a pair of free throws by Kings guard Beno Udrih, who finished with 24 points, Maggette picked up a technical foul. Udrih hit another free throw, putting the Kings up by five. The Warriors' comeback hopes were dashed.
"We got back in the game," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "We actually played pretty good in the second half. We moved the ball. We shared the ball."
The fact that the Warriors had a chance to win was almost miraculous. They started showing life toward the end of the third quarter, thanks solely to Curry. He had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in the third quarter alone. His jumper at the 1:42 mark of the period cut the Kings' once-21-point advantage to 65-56.
Curry will get his backcourt mate back tonight, as Ellis said he would play against visiting New Orleans. Nelson can't wait.
"Monta, come on back," Nelson said with a smile. "We need you, baby."
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