SACRAMENTO -- In the NBA, four minutes is an eternity. On Friday night, it was the difference between the Kings moving to 16-12 on the season, and falling to the Warriors for a second time in a 130-125 loss.
In a wild game of runs, the Kings looked like they were ready to pick up a third consecutive win. They shook off a slow start and then jumped all over the Warriors to start the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center.
With 4:23 remaining, the Kings took a 123-113 lead. And then ... nothing.
“They made some plays, but we made some mistakes and they made us pay,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said after the loss. “They’re a good team and well-coached -- happy for them, and it’s a crappy feeling for us.”
The Warriors outscored the Kings 17-2 in the final four minutes to sneak out of Sacramento with a five-point win.
Call it a lesson learned. Call it inexperience. Call it painful.
Up 125-123 with 46.8 seconds remaining, the Kings had a mix-up on the defensive end and allowed Klay Thompson a wide-open look from 27 feet. The four-time All-Star drilled the 3-ball to put the Warriors up, and the Kings looked rattled.
“That last play that that Klay made, I thought I had Draymond [Green] the whole time,” Kings guard Buddy Hield said. “I didn’t even know [Nemanja Bjelica] was in. Just a mistake, man. Just a mental mistake by me.”
Hield, like the rest of the Kings, took the loss hard. This is the second time this season that the Kings have been in a game with the Warriors in the final minute, only to come away without a win.
“I think we were playing not to lose,” Hield added. “We were up by 10, and we were playing not to lose. Just being young, man. We don’t know how to control that.”
The Kings dictated the tempo for much of the night. They outshot the Warriors from the field, and matched their 3-point attempts made with 15.
“I think we played the game at our pace the entire game, but that’s a great team,” De’Aaron Fox said. “They’re going to make shots. We went on a run in the fourth quarter, and we got stops when we needed to. Like I said, we had those breakdowns at the end of the game that cost us.”
Golden State has won three of the last four NBA championships, including the last two. The Warriors are a seasoned team with four All-Stars, and they’ve been in plenty of situations like this before.
The trio of Thompson, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant combined to score 95 points in the win, including 22 of the team’s 27 points in the fourth quarter.
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"They're good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “They're playing with a lot of confidence, they're playing fast. They have a lot of shooters, and they can put pressure on you, and they don't quit, either."
The Kings no longer are looking for moral victories. They wanted to beat the Warriors to further show the NBA that they're for real, and they’ve already circled Jan. 5 on the calendar when they’ll get another shot at the champs.