On Sunday, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Sacramento Kings 120-100 in a winner-take-all Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference semifinals. Stephen Curry scored a playoff career-high 50 points and repeatedly answered to will the defending champions on in their quest for a repeat. Kevon Looney grabbed 21 rebounds, and the Warriors moved on to the next round.
The number of points scored by Curry in Game 7 is the most ever recorded in NBA history, surpassing the 48 points scored by Curry’s former colleague Kevin Durant in a Game 7 matchup for the Nets against the Bucks in 2021.
The Warriors became the first defending champions to fall 2-0 in any playoff series and yet go on to win it. They did this by winning both games away from home in front of hostile crowds while cowbells rang in the state capital.
Now, here comes LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals with all that NBA Finals history with James and Golden State dating back to his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bring it on. The first game will be played at the Chase Center on Tuesday evening.
Sacramento’s remarkable comeback season has ended far earlier than the youthful Kings had intended. The playoff-starved Sacramento Kings received a No. 3 seed but were eliminated in the first round for the first time since 2004. Under the direction of Coach of the Year Mike Brown, the Kings ended a playoff drought of 16 years, which was the longest in the history of the NBA. This season at Golden 1 Center, there will not be any further performances of “Light the Beam.”
While Klay Thompson struggled on both ends of the court once more, Curry shot 20 of 38 with seven three-pointers and delivered after almost every big play by Sacramento. However, Thompson came through in a number of important moments as well.
After Sacramento got within six points thanks to a putback and a three-point play from Malik Monk with 14.6 seconds left in the third quarter, Klay Thompson hit a long 3-pointer and converted a four-point play to extend their lead to 91-81 heading into the final 12 minutes of the game.
Domantas Sabonis scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out seven assists, but the Warriors kept De’Aaron Fox to just 16 points on 5-for-19 shooting in his third game playing with a fractured index finger on his shooting hand. Sabonis led the Warriors in scoring, but the Warriors held Fox in check.
After entering the locker room at a deficit of 58-56, the Warriors started the second half on a 13-4 run to build a 69-62 lead and force the Kings to call a timeout at the 7:50 mark.
The Sacramento Kings scored their first points of the game with an elegant blend of traditional give-and-gos and deep jumpers after precise passing around the perimeter.
However, Curry continued his assault, and Looney fought for second and third chances while having a brilliant series on the boards.
Curry drove courageously to the hoop all day long while doing jaw-dropping acrobatics, and he shot accurately from a long distance to send Kings fans running for the doors late in the fourth quarter.
Thompson started the game 1 for ten and missed his first five 3-point attempts before finally making one at the 9:18 minute of the third. After 18 mistakes in Game 6, which led to 23 Kings points and Kerr labeling his team “wildly undisciplined,” Golden State was savvy down the stretch as they played only their fourth Game 7 under Steve Kerr since the 2014-15 championship run. Kerr has guided Golden State since the 2014-15 title run.
Kerr was certain before the decisive game, and he put Draymond Green in the starting lineup for Game 7 when the season was on the line. The feisty forward had started the previous two games from the bench after he was suspended for Game 3 for stomping on Domantas Sabonis.
“These guys are champions, defending champions from a year ago, four in the last eight years; these guys know the deal,” Kerr said. “They’ve been there before.” “There is a sense of confidence, and there is a sense that we are going to go get it done,” the speaker said.
Just before the game’s final buzzer, Steve Kerr hugged Mike Brown, Golden State’s former top assistant coach. Brown led the Warriors during Steve Kerr’s time away due to his health, and he most recently oversaw the miraculous turnaround that the Kings have just completed.
In the end, Looney finished the series with 106 rebounds, including 37 on the offensive glass. This was the sixth consecutive postseason game in which he had double-digit rebounds.
Looney finished the series with 90 rebounds, including 34 on the offensive end and 27 assists.
Since all rounds became best-of-seven in 2003, the other two teams coming off championships who went down 2-0 were each swept. These teams were the Heat in 2007, who lost to the Bulls, and the Mavericks in 2012, who lost to the Thunder.
The Kings finished the first half with a 28-22 advantage in rebounding against Golden State. The substitutes for Sacramento once again came through in a big way, outscoring the starters 25-8 in the first half and 41-18 overall. This occurred after the reserves for the Warriors were outscored by Sacramento’s bench 52-21 in Game 6.
Warriors: Curry could not convert a pair of free throws in the middle of the second quarter, while Thompson struggled to make both attempts at the beginning of the third. After making just 25 of 35 free throws in Game 6, Golden State made 19 of 30 of their attempts from the charity stripe. Gary Payton II was able to deflect four shots… The Warriors have a record of 3-1 in Game 7s played since 2015. Since Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals on May 28, 2018, which took place in Houston, Golden State has not participated in a Game 7 since then. The Warriors prevailed to go to their fourth consecutive final and one step closer to defending their crow. Under the leadership of Steve Kerr, Golden State has won all 19 of their postseason playoff series versus West opponents.