After Golden State had played so well without him, Draymond Green approached Warriors coach Steve Kerr with the idea of coming off the bench for Game 4 against the Sacramento Kings. Green made this suggestion after Golden State had performed so well without him.
But, at the halftime break on Sunday, a handful of assistant coaches suggested to Kerr that Green guard De’Aaron Fox for the remaining two-quarters of the game.
These coordinated and excellent plays managed to obscure a late mistake, and as a result, the reigning champions are all knotted at two games each in the first-round playoff series they are competing in.
Stephen Curry scored 32 points but gave Sacramento a late opportunity by calling a timeout that Golden State didn’t have. Nevertheless, the Warriors held on to defeat the Kings 126-125 on Sunday when Harrison Barnes missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Steve Kerr said, “These games are getting down to the wire, and you’ve just got to finish possessions and try to give yourself the greatest opportunity, and then sometimes it’s just, does the ball go in or not.”
Fox finished the game with a triple-double for Sacramento, with 38 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. When Curry missed a jump shot from 16 feet out on the opposite end, Keegan Murray was able to grab the rebound and bring the Kings within one point of the Warriors. His three-point shot with 28.7 seconds remaining was the game-tying basket. Fox made a pass to former Warriors teammate Barnes for a 3-point attempt while Curry and Green defended, but Barnes’ shot hit the back of the rim and did not win the game.
“Wide open,” Barnes remarked. “Fox put their faith in me to make that play. Back rim. We’ll proceed to the next step, but I’m OK with where we are.
After Curry requested an excessive timeout with 42.4 seconds remaining, Golden State led 126-121. Sacramento’s Malik Monk sank the technical free throw, winning the Kings.
Klay Thompson finished the game with 26 points for the Warriors, including a baseline 3-pointer that beat the buzzer to end the third quarter and another with 3:24 remaining.
In the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, where the Kings have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, Game 5 of the series will be played on Wednesday night. The whole season, the Warriors had difficulty performing well away from Oracle Arena.
“As amazing as this feels, it’s got to be immediately forgotten about,” said Thompson. “It’s got to be rapidly forgotten about.”
Golden State took the lead for good at 121-117 on a three-point shot by Stephen Curry with four minutes and ten seconds left on the clock. Curry ended the game 11 for 22 from the field and had five three-pointers.
Curry quickly reacted to Monk’s basket, which scored 107-106 Kings with 9:03 remaining in the game by scoring a driving layup and a 3-pointer in only 14 seconds.
After serving a one-game ban for his role in the Warriors’ dominance in Game 3 without him on Thursday, Green came off the bench to rejoin the action. With the team’s recent good fortune, Head Coach Steve Kerr elected to keep Jordan Poole in the starting five for Sunday’s game.
Green said, “I’m a big believer that if something isn’t busted, you don’t repair it,” and she was referring to the concept of preventative maintenance.
After making a deft pass behind Stephen Curry’s back that resulted in a 3-pointer for him in the middle of the fourth quarter, he blocked Domantas Sabonis’ attempt with one minute and 37 seconds remaining.
Green, suspended for standing on Sabonis’ chest during the fourth quarter of Game 2, entered the game to a thunderous ovation with 6:38 remaining in the first quarter. He finished the game with 12 points, ten rebounds, and seven assists. At the 5:43 mark of the first period, he and Fox were issued double technical fouls.
Sabonis contributed 14 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, and he will now fly home motivated to help the Kings come closer to winning their first playoff series since defeating Dallas in the first round in 2004.
Coach Mike Brown said, “We made several key errors, particularly in the fourth quarter.” “Here is where our lack of experience in the playoffs comes into play because you can’t relax out there, or you can’t imagine that you can play things a particular way and the champs will not make you pay the price,” the coach said.
Kevon Looney grabbed 14 rebounds in addition to his eight points and six assists, Poole scored 22 points, and Andrew Wiggins contributed 18 points, eight rebounds, and four blocked shots. Poole led the team in scoring.
After a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, following Thompson’s 3-pointer to finish the third quarter placed the Warriors up 102-92, Murray’s 3-pointer with 10 minutes and 43 seconds remaining got the Kings within 102-99. Murray sparkled under the matinee lights, scoring 23 points, after Brown instructed his rising star to “let it fly.” Brown’s words were quite effective.
Kerr cited Thompson’s driving and dishing as an example of a successful strategy for opening up the floor in Game 3, as Thompson entered the lane and found Moses Moody for a baseline three-pointer at the end of the first quarter. Golden State used quick passes to move the ball around, resulting in open shooting opportunities.
After going 1 for eight on three-point shots and 3 for 13 in the prior three games, Murray hit 9 for 13 with five three-point field goals and shot 9 for 13 overall.
Murray stated, “I’ve just tried to be more aggressive throughout the playoffs, and I knew eventually I’d hit my stride on the offensive end, so I knew it was just a matter of time, and I came in confident.”
Kings: Despite committing just ten mistakes of its own, Sacramento was able to capitalize on Golden State’s errors and score 18 points. The Kings made 14 of 35 long-range shots, with Fox converting on 3 of 11 attempts and Barnes converting on 1 of 6.
After an illness that caused him to miss Game 3, the Warriors’ Gary Payton II returned to the game and played for seven minutes. Green had not come off the bench in any of the previous 132 playoff games he has participated in; the last time he did so was in Game 3 against the Clippers in 2014. The first quarter ended with Golden State shooting at a 52.2% clip.
When Steve Kerr took over as head coach of the Warriors, the team was now 75-0 when leading a playoff game by 10 points or more at any time in the fourth quarter.