Thomas scores 31 as Kings dump Warriors

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- On Legends Night at Oracle Arena, with the likes of Jerry West and Bill Russell sitting within arm's length of the action, it was fitting that a guy named Isaiah Thomas would steal the show.
The Sacramento Kings won a season series over the Golden State Warriors for the first time in 10 years Wednesday night, riding the diminutive Thomas' 17 third-quarter points and 31 overall points to a 105-98 victory.
"To be able to play in front of guys like that, that's a blessing," Thomas said of West, a Warriors advisor, and Russell, who was in town to unveil a Wall of Fame at his high school, McClymonds of Oakland. "Just to have them sitting there is a great honor."
The Kings, who had two early-season victories over their Northern California rivals in Sacramento, used a Thomas-fueled, 13-0 third-quarter burst to gain an advantage they milked to the end. Sacramento (26-46) emerged with its third win in the four-game season series.
Thomas connected on a career-best seven 3-pointers, including a game-clincher with 2:38 to go after a Patrick Patterson offensive rebound, one of 16 corralled by the Kings in the game. That basket extended Sacramento's lead to 96-88.
"Isaiah Thomas represented his name very well tonight," gushed Kings coach Keith Smart, a former Warriors head coach and assistant coach. "He was someone who had to play well for us."
With the loss, the Warriors (41-32) failed to take advantage of a Houston Rockets defeat. Golden State retains a one-game lead over the Rockets (39-32) for sixth place in the Western Conference. The Warriors have nine games remaining.
Wednesday's game was won and lost from beyond the 3-point arc. While Thomas was connecting on seven of 12 and the Kings 11 of 28 overall, the Warriors went just 5-for-24 from deep. Stephen Curry made two of nine, and Klay Thompson hit just one of eight.
"We wanted to be very aggressive with their guards," said Thomas, who matched up much of the night on Curry. "It seems like every shot (Curry) takes is going to go in. I just wanted to pressure him a little bit."
Added Smart, "The whole emphasis (in practice) the last two days was: Crowd them. Make them put the ball on the floor. Sometimes you're going to give up layups. But we couldn't have them taking 3s and making 3s all night. You have to take that away from them."
The Kings, who triumphed on the road against a team with a winning record for the first time this season, never lost the lead after Thomas' seventh 3. However, the Warriors did manage to get within three on a Jarrett Jack layup with 14.7 seconds left.
Golden State was forced to foul, and Tyreke Evans extended the margin to five by making two free throws with 12.7 seconds left.
Then, fittingly, Thompson's seventh miss from beyond the arc -- an airball -- closed the door on the home team on its next possession.
Thomas capped the scoring -- and the season-series win -- with two free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining.
"It feels great. That's our crosstown rival," Thomas said of the franchises that are separated by 90 miles. "It feels good to beat a playoff team."
DeMarcus Cousins backed Thomas with 14 points for the Kings. Marcus Thornton had 13, and Evans added 12 to go with five assists.
David Lee had a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double for the Warriors, and Andrew Bogut helped out inside with season highs in points (12) and blocked shots (four) to complement nine rebounds. Jack and Carl Landry contributed 16 points apiece off the bench. But Curry, while scoring 17 points and adding 12 assists, shot just 5-for-18, and backcourt mate Thompson missed his final 11 shots on a 1-for-13 night. He scored four points.
"There's no excuse for it 1-through-12," said Bogut, refusing to point fingers of blame. "We need to remember this one. We have to move on."
Thomas was unstoppable in the third quarter, hitting five 3-pointers, including a pair in the final 39.9 seconds as the Kings more than doubled a five-point lead to go up 77-66 at period's end.
The left-hander opened the second half with a driving layup, increasing a three-point Kings halftime lead to 49-44. However, a 3-pointer by Harrison Barnes put the Warriors briefly ahead 52-51 two minutes later.
Evans countered with a 3 for the Kings, pushing them back on top, and the rest of the period pretty much belonged to Thomas. He nailed two 3-pointers in a 13-0 run that began with Evans' hoop, and the Kings raced to a 64-52 lead.
Then after the Warriors clawed back within 71-66 on a Draymond Green hoop with 1:01 left in the period, Thomas connected from 25 feet and then 28 feet, the latter coming with 3.9 seconds remaining in the quarter, to put Sacramento back in a commanding position.
"When you mess around with a team that you are better than, they gain confidence and you give them a reason to show up," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "If we gave the same energy and effort that we did against the Lakers (in Monday's 109-103 home win), we win this ballgame. We did not."
NOTES: The last time the Kings won the season series against the Warriors was when they swept the four-game series in 2002-03. ... The Kings' John Salmons opened the game with a four-point play -- a 3-pointer on which he was fouled. It was the first four-point play surrendered by the Warriors this season. ... Lee played his 200th game as a Warrior, a stretch during which the team is 97-103. He entered the game having averaged 18.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists over that span, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only Warrior to average at least 18 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists over his career for the franchise. ... Curry became the third Warrior ever to record 600 3-pointers in his career. He's two shy of passing Tim Hardaway for second place on the franchise's all-time list. ... Evans had been questionable for the game because of stomach pain he experienced in Sunday's win over Philadelphia. The high-scoring guard went to a doctor Tuesday for tests, which were negative, and he gave the team a thumbs-up after pregame warmups. ... Sacramento took a step toward strengthening its bid to retain the team when its City Council voted Tuesday night to approve the building of a new downtown arena and contribute $258 million to the projected $448 million price. A proposed sale of the club and possible relocation to Seattle is on the agenda at the NBA Board of Governors meeting April 3.

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