Warriors won’t take surging Kings lightly

SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Kings have captured the attention of the Golden State Warriors as the Northern California rivals prepare to meet Friday night for the first of two times in the next 23 days.

The Kings (15-12) will take the court having won two in a row, including 141-130 over Minnesota on Wednesday night to move within three games of the Warriors (19-10) in the Pacific Division standings.

That’s quite a feat for a franchise that has finished 38, 40, 35 and 31 games behind the Warriors in the four-year Steve Kerr era, and was already 12 1/2 games behind on this date one year ago.

The Kings have won five of six, but their three most recent victories before the Minnesota game came against lightweights Phoenix, Cleveland and Chicago.

In the aforementioned 23 days, they not only will see the Warriors twice, but also seven other Western teams currently over .500, including the Los Angeles Lakers two times.

“It’s a great feeling getting back on a winning streak, but we know it’s a tough stretch that we’ve got going on (and) coming up,” Kings star De’Aaron Fox told reporters after Wednesday’s win. “Just starting up.”

Actually, the Kings started getting on Golden State’s radar when they beat the champions twice on the road last season.

The clubs have met once already this season, with the Warriors coming away equally impressive after being pushed to the limit to pull out a 117-116 home win last month.

“It’s different than what I’m used to,” noted Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who began his career with 19 wins in 24 meetings with the Kings before the recent uprising to the northeast. “They’re playing the right way. They seem very composed for a young team as well. They’ve got a bright future. They’ve got a lot of great young pieces.”

The Kings figure to encounter a focused Warriors team, not only because of the recent head-to-head struggles, but also because Golden State is coming off a humbling 113-93 home loss to Toronto on Wednesday.

Thompson (0-for-5) and Stephen Curry (2-for-8) combined for two 3-pointers in the blowout.

The Warriors were without Curry and Draymond Green the last time they saw the Kings. Thompson helped bail out Golden State with five 3-pointers and 31 points, while Kevin Durant bombed in 44 points.

Golden State is still waiting for Green to regain his All-Star consistency after missing 11 straight games with a sprained toe.

Green had seven points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a typical all-around performance in a home win over Minnesota on Monday, before picking up two early fouls – compounded by a technical – and being a non-factor in the loss to Toronto, contributing two points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Fox was held to nine points in the earlier meeting with the Warriors, but Buddy Hield and Iman Shumpert hit four 3-pointers apiece as the Kings outscored Golden State 33-30 from beyond the arc.

Hield paced the Kings with 28 points.