OAKLAND -- The fourth time against the Kings was no different from the previous three for the Warriors, who once again needed all the moxie their championship DNA could muster.
This one wasn’t over until Kings guard Buddy Hield was short on a jumper with two seconds remaining, allowing the Warriors to escape with a 125-123 victory Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
All five Warriors starters scored in double digits, led by Stephen Curry’s 36 points and 28 more from Kevin Durant.
The Warriors (42-16) concluded the season series with a 4-0 record against Sacramento (30-28), the four games decided by a total of 12 points.
Here are three quick takeaways from another thriller:
The superstars shall lead
When all else fails, turn everything over to Curry and Durant. What a luxury.
Curry was the closer, scoring 11 points in the final seven minutes. He was 12-of-23 from the field, including 10-of-16 from deep and 2-of-2 from the line. He also recorded seven assists. He played 36 minutes and was plus-six.
Durant scored 17 of his points in the first half, 13 in the opening quarter. He was 10-of-20 from the field, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc and 7-of-7 from the line. Durant also totaled nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocks. He played 37 minutes and finished plus-seven.
On a night when the Kings proved yet again that they are to be taken seriously, the Warriors surely understand that their greatest offensive advantage is having Curry and Durant to pour in the points at critical times.
One of the goals for the Warriors over these final weeks of the regular season is finding an effective second unit, one capable of holding, if not extending leads built largely on the exploits of Curry and Durant.
That need was on full display in the second quarter. The Warriors entered with a 35-30 lead it took only three minutes -- and a 15-5 run by Sacramento -- to fall behind 45-40.
The Kings pushed the lead to 11 (54-43). The Warriors were down eight (54-46) when coach Steve Kerr turned to the Hamptons 5 (Curry, Durant, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson), who outscored the Kings 14-8 over the final four minutes of the half.
Sure, they missed Shaun Livingston, who was at home with his wife, who is expected to deliver their second child at any time.
But the second unit dug a hole the Warriors spent the rest of the evening trying to climb out of and didn’t gain another five-point lead until 6:36 remained.
Near-death by turnover
Maybe it was because this is the first game after a week-long break. Or maybe it was because after three previous games, the Warriors still haven’t adjusted to the quickness of the Kings.
But the live-ball turnovers just . . . kept . . . coming. They committed a total of 15 giveaways -- including an astonishing 11 in the first half -- off which Sacramento scored 22 points.
Durant and Curry each committed three, while Thompson, Kevon Looney and Cousins each coughed up two.
It was enough to keep the Kings in the game.
Turnovers are a pet peeve of Kerr's, and the Warriors spent most of January and early February keeping them to a minimum. They reverted to the worst of themselves in that regard Thursday night.