It’s becoming the same old story for the Kings.
Fall behind big, fight back valiantly, and lose at the end.
The Kings followed that script line for line again Sunday at Sleep Train Arena in losing to the Golden State Warriors 115-113.
After trailing by 16 points in the third quarter, the Kings led by two with 1:58 to play. But ultimately, they committed too many turnovers and didn’t do enough to slow down Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in suffering their fourth consecutive loss.
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On the Kings’ final possession, Golden State center Andrew Bogut blocked Isaiah Thomas’ layup attempt with 1.8 seconds to play. That came after Curry gave the Warriors the lead on two free throws with 8.6 seconds remaining.
“It’s all good and dandy that we’re staying in games and fighting hard, but we’re always on the losing end of it,” guard Marcus Thornton said. “One of these days, we have to start winning some of these games because at the end of the day, it don’t say Sacramento Kings stayed in the game. It says Sacramento, L (loss) and the other team wins. One of these days, we have to get over that hump.”
Curry touched up the Kings for 36 points and 10 assists. Thompson got going early and finished with 28 points, including a career-high eight 3-pointers.
The Warriors (10-8) also capitalized on the Kings’ season-high 24 turnovers, converting them into 33 points.
The Kings (4-11) have trailed by at least 10 points in 11 games this season.
“I never want to be a team that just rolls over,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “... The challenge we have as a team is to stay together and find ways to close things out.”
The turnovers helped put the Kings in a hole and helped waste their best shooting game of the season (52.6 percent) and center DeMarcus Cousins playing through foul trouble to score 24 points in 20 minutes.
The Kings also had three bench players score in double figures, led by Thornton’s 21 points. Thomas had 19 points and eight assists but also had a career-high seven turnovers. Patrick Patterson made all eight of his shots and scored 18 points to go with seven rebounds.
Thomas said the turnovers were simply carelessness. He pointed to his four turnovers in the second quarter, in which he telegraphed passes the Warriors picked off.
“That loss hurts,” Thomas said. “We had that game. Especially with the turnovers we had, we were still in a position to win.”
Cousins was the Kings’ go-to player down the stretch, scoring eight points in the fourth, including four in the final minute to tie the score twice. But he is tired of the Kings getting close, only to fall.
“We can talk about progress every day,” Cousins said. “But with that progress, we’re still making some of the same mistakes. When we stop making those mistakes, then we’ll get over that hump.”
It looked as if Cousins would be lost for the game with 3:10 to play when he was called for a flagrant foul 2 against Bogut that was downgraded to an offensive foul. If not for the change, Cousins would have been ejected.
“I’ve never seen that before – ever,” Cousins said. “I’ve never seen a flagrant 2 go to a regular foul.”
The Kings could point to several things that prevented them from completing their comeback. But it comes down to the Kings needing to do more to avoid a large deficit early, a situation that forces them to play perfectly late.
“That’s part of having to fight back,” forward John Salmons said. “When you’re fighting back, everything has to go your way, and that’s the reality of basketball – everything’s not going to go your way. So when you’re fighting back down the stretch and you’re down like that, every little thing hurts.”