Sacramento (14-20) at Golden State (10-24)

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  • Game info: 10:30 pm EST Fri Jan 8, 2010
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Close games have given the Sacramento Kings trouble over the past two weeks. A trip to Oracle Arena should have them especially primed for perhaps another tight matchup.

Losers of four straight, the Kings face the Golden State Warriors on Friday night in an arena where they played four overtimes last season.

Disappointing losses have been hard on a young Sacramento team, which has dropped six of seven. That stretch includes overtime losses to Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers, and close defeats to Dallas and Phoenix the past two games.

“We will not be discouraged and we will start winning these games,” coach Paul Westphal said. “For whatever reason, we’ve had a string of having our heart pulled out of our chest. This team is coming back and we’re going to keep coming back and we’re going to start winning these close games.”

Sacramento (14-20) lost 113-109 to the Suns on Tuesday night, falling short after overcoming a 20-point first-half deficit to tie the game in the final 2 minutes.

The Kings had little trouble throughout their last meeting with the Warriors (10-24), winning 120-107 at home Nov. 8. Two road matchups against Golden State last season weren’t nearly as one-sided.

Golden State beat Sacramento 143-141 in overtime April 1, avenging an exhausting 135-133 triple-OT defeat last Jan. 14.

Rookie Tyreke Evans(notes) made this season’s first matchup with the Warriors much easier for the Kings, posting a game-high 23 points.

The 6-foot-6 guard led Sacramento with 27 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against Phoenix. Evans left briefly in the third quarter when he aggravated a sprained right ankle that kept him out for three games last week, but he isn’t expected to miss any time.

Golden State star Monta Ellis(notes) rarely leaves the court, averaging 41.5 minutes. He had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 107-101 win over Minnesota on Wednesday night, a day after a 123-122 loss to Denver.

“It’s not tough at all,” said Ellis, who played 83 of a possible 96 minutes in less than 48 hours.

Ellis had what was then a career-high 42 points in the last home game against Sacramento. He topped that mark with a 45-point performance in a 126-107 victory over Indiana on Nov. 30.

One of Ellis’ worst scoring games this season was against the Kings. He had nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Ellis is averaging 33.9 points in his last seven games at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are opening a seven-game homestand, their longest of the season.

Golden State has played an NBA-low 13 home games but will be at Oracle Arena for 18 of its next 24. The Warriors have won two straight at home despite committing 38 turnovers, beating Phoenix and Eastern Conference-leading Boston.

Golden State had a season-low nine turnovers against the Timberwolves.

“It’s always a big key for us that we don’t turn the ball over,” forward Corey Maggette(notes) said. “We’re a run-and-gun team. If we can stop turning the ball over … that would give us more opportunities to score.”

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Friday, Jan 8