SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have the Warriors' number.
Despite a spirited late rally, the Warriors couldn't overcome a slipshod defense in a 131-127 loss Wednesday at Sleep Train Arena, where Golden State is 0-2 this season.
Jimmer Fredette salted away the victory with four free throws over the final 12 seconds as the Warriors' uphill battle finally ended. Golden State was stunned after Stephen Curry, who had a game-high 32 points, fouled out with 2:13 left in the game.
Golden State had surged ahead 115-114 on a Jarrett Jack 3-pointer with 4:33 left and led 118-116 on David Lee's free throw with 3:09 remaining.
But the Kings, who snapped a five-game losing skid against one of the NBA's hottest teams, answered every challenge during the back-and-forth fourth quarter. The Kings' lead was 125-119 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Aaron Brooks and Marcus Thornton. The Warriors cut it to three points after Jack, who had a brilliant night with 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting, converted two free throws after being fouled falling down on an awkward-looking attempt near the 3-point line.
But it was the Kings' night.
"The defense wasn't existent at all," Curry said. "I felt like we were playing just a step slow and giving them a lot of open threes. Basically threes and in the paint, they were killing us in transition. We have to look at that the next time we play them. They play well up here in the two times we played them, so we've got figure that out."
DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 24 points, and Brooks had 23. Kings forward Jason Thompson pulled 15 rebounds, seven more than the Warriors' top rebounder, Lee, who had 29 points.
After Curry fouled out on what appeared to a phantom foul on forward John Salmons, he stood under the backboard in seeming disbelief.
"It's frustrating, man," said Curry, who had 23 points in the second half. "I play good defense on basically two possessions, because they got the offensive rebound and they had Salmons trying to back me down and get into position to shoot over me. He got three or four of those calls."
Both teams shot 50 percent, and the Kings had a season high in points and scored more than any team had against the Warriors this season. Only Oklahoma City had shot at least 50 percent against the Warriors.
Golden State started the game sluggishly, looking like a team playing on back-to-back nights on the heels of a rousing seven-game trip.
They trailed 51-38 with 6:37 left in the half and 63-55 at the intermission, despite getting 22 points from Lee -- tying the team's season high for a half -- and 15 from backup guard Jack, as the two were a crackling 16 for 23 from the floor combined.
How awful was the Warriors defense?
The Kings shot 50 percent over the first two quarters, and the 63 points allowed tied a Warriors' season high in the category. Fredette surpassed his scoring average of 7.6 points with 11 in the half.
Each of them had his moments Wednesday, even if points were scarce among them. Ezeli, a high-leaping 6-foot-11 center, swatted an early attempt by Thompson into the crowd. Barnes perked up in the third quarter, scoring four points and becoming more assertive overall, and Ezeli's thunder jam cut the deficit to 73-60.
"We got three guys that are men, that are talented, and most importantly to me, they love the game of basketball," Jackson said of his rookies before the game. "They're not just doing it to make a living. They really want to be great. They show up early. They leave late, and they come back later on. So we're very pleased with what they've done thus far."
Barnes, the No. 7 overall pick out of North Carolina, is a talented work in progress. He was 0 for 5 from the field and scoreless in 19 minutes of action in Tuesday's gritty win over the New Orleans Hornets after scoring 19, on 8-for-14 shooting, against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
Jackson doesn't buy into the assessment of Barnes that's been up and down.
"He's been fine for us," Jackson said of the 6-8 forward averaging 8.8 points a game. "I don't look at him being up and down. He defends. He competes. He scores the basketball. He's been steady for us in that starting lineup. Really, really excited about what the future holds for him. We're asking him to do a lot, and he certainly hasn't disappointed."
In the meantime, Green, the No. 35 overall pick after four years at Michigan State, has been the quintessential blue-collar contributor off the bench whose statistics don't reflect his impact. Ezeli, the No. 30 pick out of Vanderbilt, likewise has won over his coach with his work ethic.
"He's been very good for us," Jackson said. "He's a young fellow. He's learning, works his tail off. He gives us a physical presence on both sides of the basketball and pays attention to detail. He's a big reason why we've been able to do what we've done thus far.
Green, who hit the game-winning shot against Miami on Dec. 12, has helped the Warriors go 6-0 when he grabs at least seven rebounds. He agrees with his coach's assessment of the draft class.
"I think we're doing great," Green said. "We all bring something different to the team. We're bringing something that is helping put the team in a better position. We're hustling. We're scoring, rebounding. ... Whatever it is, I think the rookies are doing a great job just bringing some type of positive energy to the team."
Charlotte (7-18) at Warriors (17-9), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA