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Thornton leads Kings past Warriors

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March 14, 2011 | Leave Comment

Sacramento's Marcus Thornton (23) breaks away for a dunk against Golden State defender Ekpe Udoh on Monday. Thornton had 42 points to lead the Kings to a 129-119 win over the Warriors. AP photo

SACRAMENTO — Marcus Thornton and Samuel Dalembert did their best to deny the Golden State Warriors another memorable fourth-quarter comeback in what might have been their last game in Sacramento.

Thornton and Dalembert had career scoring nights with 42 and 27 points and the Kings jumped out to a big, early lead and held on to beat the Warriors 129-119 Monday night.

“It’s nice to get outscored 35-22 in the fourth and get a win,” coach Paul Westphal said.

The Kings had blown big leads in the fourth in their first two meetings with the Warriors, losing both in overtime. They scored 19 straight points early in this game to take control and expanded the lead to 25 points. Golden State’s reserves got it down to single digits in the fourth quarter but never really threatened.

“We learned from our last game against them,” Dalembert said. “They are a tricky team. They keep going and get tough. Look at what happened at the end. We were up by 20-something and the game goes down to a seven-point game. It was tough. We have to understand that teams are so good in this league that when they are down, you have to keep them down.”

DeMarcus Cousins added 15 as the Kings had their second-highest scoring game of the season and shot 57 percent to win for just the second time in their past nine home games.

Al Thornton scored 23 points and Stephen Curry added 19 to lead the Warriors, who were never in this game a night after beating Minnesota 100-77 in their most lopsided win of the season.

With the Kings contemplating a move to Anaheim after the season, this could have been the final meeting between the teams in Sacramento. The teams will still meet once more in Oakland this season on April 10.

In the 26 seasons that the two franchises have been divided by fewer than 100 miles, they have never both made the playoffs at the same time.

While the proximity has not led to meaningful games between the teams, there has been passion between the fan bases. A sizable contingent of Warriors fans made the drive on Interstate 80 for the game and made their presence felt with their cheers. The teams even got into it late in the first half when each team was called for two technical fouls after a run-in between Al Thornton and Dalembert.

“Regardless of the record between these two teams, there’s always a fantastic show,” Warriors coach Keith Smart said before the game.

It was the Kings that put on the show this night, getting huge offensive nights from Thornton and Dalembert against the defensively challenged Warriors.

Sacramento made 22-of-28 shots in the paint in the first half and reached the 100-point mark with just over 2 minutes left in the third quarter on a layup by Dalembert. The Kings led 107-84 after three quarters.

Thornton topped his previous career high of 37 with a 3-pointer early in the fourth that gave him 38 points and the Kings a 110-92 lead. He is averaging 22.2 points per game in 10 contests since being acquired from New Orleans before the trade deadline.

“He just needed the opportunity,” Westphal said. “He’s embraced it in a big way. Our guys have confidence in him and he obviously has confidence. I don’t think it’s his last 40-point game.”

The Warriors scored 15 straight points late in the game to cut it to nine but Smart never brought back his regulars. Acie Law missed a 3-pointer with 1:31 left and Francisco Garcia iced it with a trey for Sacramento.

“I just didn’t think there would be a point where they would come back in and make a difference,” Smart said. “Maybe they could have. I just didn’t see it right at the moment. Those guys had plated several good games but it just wasn’t there tonight.”

The Kings used their big run to take a 19-3 lead and led 35-20 after one. They expanded the lead to 25 points early in the second quarter after a 3-pointer by Thornton.

“We came out with a defensive mentality,” Thornton said. “We came out and jumped right on them.”

Monta Ellis, the seventh leading scorer in the league, then got his first points after going scoreless for the first 15-plus minutes. That started a stretch where the Warriors made 11 of 13 shots to get back into the game. They trailed 71-59 at the break and it could have been closer. Dorell Wright scored just after the buzzer as he tried to go in for an uncontested dunk instead of shooting before the end of the half.

Notes: Kings G Tyreke Evans, who has missed 14 straight games with an injured left foot, will visit a doctor Tuesday to see if he will be cleared to resume practice. … Sacramento G Beno Udrih returned after missing three games with the flu.

The Associated Press

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