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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Curry’s 50 point night ends the Kings season in a game seven thriller

After a 16-year playoff drought, the Kings tested the defending champions in a closely contested series but could not close the series at home

 

By ELOISE ENGS — sports@theaggie.org

 

On April 15, the No. 3-seeded Sacramento Kings opened game one of a seven game series in the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the 2022 defending champions, the No. 6-seeded Golden State Warriors. The series has been highly competitive with both teams going back and forth forcing a game seven which took place on April 30 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. The Golden State Warriors ultimately won the series in the seventh game.

 

Game one

The Kings hosted the Warriors for the first game of the series at the Golden 1 Center. Kings’ fans brought the energy for game one as it was Sacramento’s first playoff game since 2006. After a 16-year playoff drought, spectators gathered outside the arena hours before the game to support the team that had been at the bottom half of the standing for so many years. For a rare playoff appearance, the fans would not miss out on the opportunity to cheer for the purple and black, especially against a team like the Warriors, who have won four NBA championships in the past eight years. 

The Kings prevailed in game one, winning by a margin of three points (126-123). The Kings’ point guard De’Aaron Fox led the team with 36 points on night one. Other standouts included shooting guard Malik Monk, who totaled 32 points and made the team’s last two free throws with 2.9 seconds left on the clock to put them ahead of the Warriors. Power forward Domantas Sabonis was also a force in the game, grabbing 16 rebounds.

Star point guard Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 30 points, closely followed by shooting guard Klay Thompson with 21 points and small forward Andrew Wiggins and shooting guard Jordan Poole, who both tallied 18 points. Curry had an opportunity to tie the game following Monk’s free throws, but he missed the three-point shot and the Kings won their first playoff game in 16 years.

 

Game two

The Kings again hosted the second game of the series on April 17 after defeating the Warriors two days prior. The Kings won their second first-round playoff game at home with a score of 114-106, putting them ahead 2-0 in the best-of-seven-games contest. 

Fox and Sabonis both scored 24 points and were closely followed by Monk, who had 18 points. Fox’s three-point shot made the score 107-101 with 2:17 to play in the fourth quarter, and the Kings took off from there. 

The Warriors were led by Curry with 28 points, who shockingly only made three out of 13 three-point shots throughout the game. Wiggins followed Curry with 22 points. 

Game two took a turn when power forward Draymond Green was ejected from the game for a flagrant foul against Sabonis. Green was ejected for stepping on Sabonis’s chest when he was on the ground after a missed shot. The Kings’ fans went wild, which only fed Green’s actions on the court, so he started holding his hand to his ear, prompting loud boos in response from the fans. His actions led to him being suspended for game three, which would be held in San Francisco.

 

Game three

The Warriors hosted the Kings on April 20 at the Chase Center. The Kings were up 2-0 in the series, but they were going into a tough game three for their first away game in the first round. “Dub Nation” is the moniker of Golden State’s fans, and they brought the energy that night, especially because Green was suspended due to the altercation with Sabonis during game two. If the Warriors wanted to extend their season, they would need all the energy they could get from their supporters. Typically, it is improbable for a team to come back in a playoff series being down 0-3. 

Curry was a major standout in game three as he totaled 36 points in 37 minutes. The Warriors were more aggressive on the court than in games one and two, especially when Curry was on the bench. Wiggins also came to play, scoring 20 points and totaling a team high of nine assists for that game. The Warriors had double the amount of steals as the Kings had with 12 steals compared to the Kings six steals.

Fox, once again, was a standout for the Kings as he had 26 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds. Sabonis collected the most rebounds in the game between both teams with a total of 16. Nobody else on the Kings really stood out that night, which would have been a crucial opportunity for them to steal a win on the road without Green playing.

However, the Warriors took their first win at home with a final score of 114-97. During the first two games of this series, the Kings were able to develop momentum one play after another, but with Curry performing the way he was in bursts on and off the bench, the Kings could not contain one of the greatest shooters of all time.

 

Game four

The closest final score of this series was in game four with the Warriors winning by one point, 126-125, which tied the series at 2-2.

With 42 seconds remaining in the game, the Warriors looked confident that they would take home the win for game four, but Curry attempted to call a timeout when the team had no timeouts remaining, which earned him a technical foul. Monk made the free throw following the foul, and the Kings remained in possession of the ball. Fox got a hold of the ball and made a crucial three-point shot, making it 125-126. The Warriors got a hold of the ball and passed it to their most reliable player, Curry, and he missed a jumper, giving the King’s another chance. The Kings did not have a lot of time to put up a shot, and the time expired right after Fox, who could not put up a shot, passed to small forward Harrison Barnes who missed.

With the series tied at 2-2, the teams traveled back to the Golden 1 Center.

 

Game five

Game five in Sacramento was a nail biter for both teams. The Kings led in the first quarter by three points, but from there, the Warriors had a promising lead throughout the game. In the fourth quarter, the Kings took advantage of defensive foul calls on the Warriors and held on until the very end. With 29.4 seconds remaining, it was only a five point game — until Curry made a clutch three-point shot to put the Warriors ahead by eight points. At this point, the game was over with a final score of 123-116. Just like that, the Kings who held a firm 2-0 lead in the series were down 3-2 and on the brink of elimination.

Standouts for the Warriors included Curry, once again, with 31 points, Thompson with 25 points and Wiggins closely following with 20. Forward Kevon Looney was the player to watch in game five, as he had 22 rebounds and seven assists.

The Kings fought until the end, especially Fox, who he was playing with a broken index finger on his shooting hand. He totaled 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, making it a great game five for the point guard. Monk stood out yet again with 21 points and carried out great defensive skills against their opponents.

With the Warriors leading the series 3-2, the competition headed back to the Bay Area for a possible season-ending game for the Sacramento Kings.

 

Game six

The Warriors hosted the Kings for a possible end to round one of the playoffs, with the hosts leading 3-2. The Kings were hungry for a win; after 16 years, they weren’t ready for their Cinderella story to come to an end.

At the end of the first quarter, the Warriors led by one point, but soon after, the Kings gained momentum and took the lead for the remainder of the game. The Kings won the game 118-99, staying alive in the series and forcing the Warriors into game seven, hosted in Sacramento.

Fox carried out yet another strong game with 26 points, four rebounds and 11 assists. Monk could have been the player of the night with 28 points, taking the team lead. The Kings shot 37.8% from three while the Warriors shot 31.3%, which is very unlikely for a team like the Warriors.

The Warriors took a hard loss at home, which was crucial to move on to the second round of the playoffs. Curry was not cooking on this particular night with his three-point game, but he still managed to score 29 points. Thompson looked promising in the second half with some consistent three-point shots; he contributed 22 points to his total.

The Warriors’ free-throw attempts were statistically low for their team with only 25/35 being made. In game six, the Kings held on and tied this back-and-forth series yet again at 3-3. 

 

Game seven

With the series tied at 3-3, the Sacramento Kings had home court advantage for the make-or-break game seven. However, the young team lacks playoff experience, and were facing a team that has won four championships in the last eight years. The Warriors’ experience seemed to be the deciding factor in the final matchup. Curry produced a 50-point performance to lead the Warriors to victory, 120-100. 

At the end of the first quarter, Sacramento led 31-30 and outscored the Warriors in the second quarter to lead by two points, 58-56. However, everything changed in the third quarter, when the Warriors’ defense swung the momentum/ The team grabbed 23 rebounds to the Kings nine, giving Golden State opportunities for Curry and Thompson to score. 

At the end of the third quarter, the Warriors led 91-81. The Kings would not recover, as they could not contain Curry, who scored the most points in a game seven in NBA history. Wiggins added 17 points and Thompson added 16. For the Kings, Sabonis scored 22 points and Fox, who played through his injury, scored 16. 

Written by: Eloise Engs — sports@theaggie.org