Brandon Rush scored 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to spark a late rally, and the Golden State Warriors spoiled former coach Keith Smart's return with a 93-90 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Rush finished 4 for 5 from 3-point range and highlighted a 9-0 run to start the final period that carried new Warriors coach Mark Jackson past his predecessor. Jackson also sat stars Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis for almost the entire fourth quarter, riding his bench with an unconventional move.
Tyreke Evans had 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and DeMarcus Cousins added 21 points and 14 rebounds in Sacramento's fifth straight loss. The Kings (6-15) are in last place in the Pacific Division, just behind Golden State (7-12).
Dorell Wright and David Lee added 15 points apiece for the Warriors, who had 43 points from the reserves and took advantage of 21 Kings turnovers. Curry sat out the fourth until entering with 15.1 seconds remaining, giving Golden State a four-point lead by making one of two free throws.
After Jason Thompson made a quick layup, Sacramento sent Nate Robinson to the line. He hit both free throws to again put the Warriors ahead by four. Golden State had to sweat out a last-second heave by Evans at the buzzer.
The coaching dynamic dominated the latest edition of the Northern California rivalry.
The Warriors ousted NBA career wins leader Don Nelson before training camp last season and hastily appointed Smart, an assistant for eight seasons with the franchise. Golden State finished with a 36-46 record, a 10-game improvement under Smart from the previous season.
Still, he never stood a chance.
New Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber wanted to make their own hire, cutting ties with Smart and signing the more flamboyant Mark Jackson — the former Knicks and Pacers point guard and ABC/ESPN broadcaster who had never coached at any level. Smart took over the Kings on Jan. 5, when Sacramento fired Paul Westphal after a 2-5 start and an escalating dispute with Cousins.
Lacob sat in his usual courtside seat for Smart's return, just three spots to the right of Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof. All five Warriors starters extended hugs and handshakes to Smart before tipoff, following a pattern set by scores of arena security guards and ushers during pregame warmups.
All the sentimental moments ended there.
Evans scared Sacramento after a foul by Ekpe Udoh in the second quarter sent the 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year tumbling to the ground. He landed awkwardly, twisting his right knee, and team trainers attended to Evans for about a minute before he walked to the bench under his own power.
Evans shook off the spill and put on a dazzling dribbling display, slicing between defenders and overpowering Golden State's smaller guards. He made a 3-pointer that gave Sacramento a 44-36 lead late in the period, setting off light cheers from Kings fans sprinkled around the arena.
Golden State pulled to 47-all on a jumper by Monta Ellis early in the third quarter before Sacramento answered with six straight points. Jackson called timeout and his team regrouped.
The Warriors held Sacramento scoreless for more than six minutes, including the first 5:17 of the fourth quarter, until Cousins converted a difficult fadeaway jumper. Before that, Golden State had scored nine straight points — all from reserves — highlighted by Rush's 3-pointer to go ahead 76-68.
Rush had two more swishes from beyond the arc in critical moments.
He gave the Warriors an 11-point lead with the first and, just when Sacramento started to gain momentum, Rush hit another with 3:28 remaining that put Golden State in front 88-76.
NOTES: In his 16th start of the season, Warriors C Andris Biedrins made his first free throw. He had missed his first four this season until making one 58 seconds into the game to complete a three-point play. ... Robinson was called for a technical foul in the second quarter after waving off an official. Robinson had just knocked the ball out of bounds from fellow undersized guard and former Washington Huskies standout Isaiah Thomas, a rookie with Sacramento.