The Sacramento Kings came out of the All-Star break knowing they had little margin for error if they wanted to make a playoff push.
Three straight wins to begin the stretch run has them creeping back into contention.
Harrison Barnes and De'Aaron Fox each scored 21 points and the Kings beat the Golden State Warriors 112-94 on Tuesday night for their ninth win in the past 13 games.
“It's a big goal,” coach Luke Walton said about making the playoffs. “But the way you achieve a big goal is by focusing on the present and what we're working on, and showing up and playing a certain style every night. If we do that, we'll give ourselves a better chance to achieve the big goal at the end of the day.”
The Kings still have plenty of work to do to reach that level, as they still trail Memphis by four games in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
But after losing 15 of 18 games during a stretch in December and January, even having a shot at it is an achievement.
“I think we're playing well on both sides of the ball," Fox said. “Things have been going good for us. We've been able to get stops when we needed them. ... We're playing our best basketball of the season.”
Buddy Hield made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter on the way to a 19-point night and Bogdan Bogdanovic had 17 to give the Kings their third straight win.
Marquese Chriss scored 21 points and Andrew Wiggins added 16 for Golden State.
The Warriors have lost seven straight overall and seven in a row at home for the first time since dropping the final seven home games in the 2000-01 season
The Kings raced out to an early lead behind 14 points in the first quarter from Barnes and never trailed on the way to their third win in as many meetings this season with the Warriors.
This is the longest winning streak in the Northern California series for Sacramento since winning 15 in a row from 2000-03.
The Kings extended the lead to 16 points in the second quarter before the Warriors chipped into it. They got the deficit down to four multiple times in the third but never could get over the hump.
“The beginning of the game put us in the hole,” Chriss said. “It's hard to fight up stream for 48 minutes. We need to have a better start.”
Kings: Fox left the game in the first quarter with tightness in his right groin but returned to the game in the second quarter. ... The Kings shot just 19 of 34 from the foul line. ... Walton said F Richaun Holmes (shoulder) looked good in the weight room but had no update on when he'd be able to return to practice.
Warriors: After missing their first 17 3-point attempts last month in a loss at Sacramento, the Warriors made just 1 of 17 from long range in the first half. Golden State finished the game 4 for 28 from 3. ... F Draymond Green remained sidelined with a pelvic injury but should be able to return Thursday.
Stephen Curry is aiming to return to the Warriors lineup on Sunday for the first time since breaking his left hand in October. Coach Steve Kerr that the hope is that Curry will be able to play against Washington on Sunday. Curry has been practicing in recent weeks and will be re-evaluated on Saturday before a final decision is made.
"He's had that date in his mind," Kerr said. "He'll continue to work this week and we'll make that determination on Saturday."
Kings: Visit Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Warriors: Host Lakers on Thursday night.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports