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Warriors ride hot first-half stretch to beat Kings, 121-96

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Pick a category: Defense. Shooting. Ball movement. Efficiency. Togetherness.

In four games this season, the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings showed in just about every way how much of a difference there is between the NBA’s Northern California clubs.

Stephen Curry had 23 points and nine assists, and the Warriors rode a 23-0 spurt in the first half to beat the Kings 121-96 on Tuesday night, sweeping the season series for the second straight year.

“They want to be all machos over there, but we just come out here and play our game. We always come out with a win,” said Warriors reserve Marreese Speights, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

Golden State shut down Sacramento for more than seven minutes at the end of the first quarter and start of the second quarter to take an 18-point lead. The Warriors went ahead by 21 at the half and 25 in the third quarter, then held off a brief Kings comeback.

Things got physical and feisty, at times, on the court. But none of it seemed to faze the visitors.

The Warriors had 33 assists and 11 turnovers, while the Kings had 17 assists and 18 turnovers. Golden State outshot Sacramento 50.5 percent to 44.3 percent and outscored Sacramento’s bench 61 to 12.

“I love the box score. I love having a lot of different guys scoring and not having all the points concentrated on a few guys,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It just makes us hard to guard.”

Sacramento snapped its eight-game losing streak with a win at Indiana on Saturday and had hoped to carry the momentum home.

Instead, about the only thing the Kings accomplished was quieting Klay Thompson — who had 14 points — after he scored an NBA-record 37 points in the third quarter and finished with 52 in Golden State’s last game against Sacramento on Jan. 23.

DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and Rudy Gay scored 20 for the Kings, who rallied within 11 late in the third quarter before the Warriors regrouped.

“Basically, their bench came in and did a great job,” Cousins said. “They pushed the game ahead and made it tough for our whole team.”

It was quite a way for the NBA-leading Warriors (38-8) to begin a stretch of four games in five nights, including three on the road. In all, five of their last six games before the All-Star break are away from home.

Golden State fell behind 22-14 with 4:43 remaining in the first quarter before smothering Sacramento (17-30) for a stunningly prolonged stretch.

The Warriors held the Kings scoreless for more than seven minutes and without a field goal for more than 8

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