SACRAMENTO – The Warriors sent a subtle message throughout Northern California on Friday night.
This region still belongs to them, barely, but no less.
Perhaps still stinging from a 20-point loss two nights earlier, the defending NBA champions lost a 15-point third-quarter lead but recovered in the fourth to pull out a 130-125 victory over the Kings at Golden 1 Center.
In beating Sacramento for the second time in three weeks, the Warriors (20-10) served up a reminder that the upstart Kings (15-13) may be on the rise, but still have a ways to go before they can run with the elite.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ fifth win in the last six games:
Durant needs more shots
There was a point early in the fourth quarter when Klay Thompson had put up 24 shots, while Kevin Durant had attempted 12.
Unless Thompson is cooking -- and 9-of-24 doesn’t qualify -- that should not happen.
He is a terrific shooter, but so is Durant. Moreover, Durant is considerably more efficient, one of the best ever at his position. Thompson finished with 27 points on 10-of-27 shooting. Durant had 33 points, going 9-of-20 from the field.
Durant’s 13 points in the fourth quarter were essential to the comeback.
There are times when the Warriors must do a better job of utilizing Durant. They got away with not doing it, but this was example of such a night.
The rapid pace was back
The Warriors knew it would be a task to keep up with the frisky young Kings, one of the league’s most devoted running teams, ranking second in the NBA pace. The Warriors also want to run, and they looked eager to meet that challenge.
They opened with a blistering pace, scoring 42 first-quarter points while getting up 28 shots, two short of a season-high for a quarter.
They maintained it throughout, finishing with 96 attempts -- well above their average of 87.6.
The Warriors were outscored 31-20 on fast break points, but they managed to reach a level of pace rarely seen this season. They say more is coming, and it certainly seems to suit them.
The treys just keep coming
Until last week, the Warriors averaged roughly 30 attempts per game from beyond the arc. Entering Friday, they were averaging 37.2 over their last four games.
That number ticked upward, as they hoisted 40 against the Kings, with 15 of them dropping through the net.
The Warriors continue to say they’re not hunting triples. They’re not, as a habit. But the volume is up, and there’s no reason for it to go back down.