As a Sacramento Kings fan, I’m glad to know that the 2023-24 season series between them and the Warriors is over. It’s been an insane ride this season, and both sides seem to really like leaving things to the last minute.
Their latest game ended much in the same way. After leading for the entire second half, the Kings allowed the Warriors to go on a run that ended with Jonathan Kuminga slamming the ball in with 47.1 seconds left in the game for a 133-132 lead.
The Kings then missed on a three-point attempt to retake the lead, but had the good fortune of the rebound ending up in Steph Curry’s hands while his body was out of bounds. The Kings then got the stop that they needed, but then Kevin Huerter inexplicably missed both free throws that would have given them a three-point lead.
With 15 seconds left, an eternity in the NBA, the Warriors had plenty of time to take a game-winner. Instead, they got the ball to Steph Curry, who dribbled out the clock before a double team forced him into a turnover in the dying seconds of the game.
First of all, I’m not blaming Curry. He led the Warriors in scoring with 33 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal while shooting 13 of 26 from the field. He’s bailed out the Warriors so many times this season that he deserved to take the last shot, but the execution just went awry. Kuminga also deserves credit for his 31 points off the bench.
What’s comical about the game is the way it ended, because it’s become a bit of a norm lately for the two teams. This time around, Harrison Barnes was the hero with a career-high 39 points on 14 of 24 shooting (7 of 12 from three), as he kept them afloat in the game before the Warriors went on that last-gasp run.
In the game that preceded this one, the Kings also had another victory in a highly entertaining affair. After falling behind 24 points in the first half, and with the Warriors only needing to win by 12 or more to advance to the knockouts of the In-Season Tournament, the Kings went on a furious rally in the second half that ended with Malik Monk hitting a wild shot with 7.1 seconds left. Steph Curry did manage to take a three in the waning seconds of that game, and I swear to god I remember thinking it was going to go in. It did not, though, which preserved the 124-123 victory for Sacramento.
Oh, but it gets better. In their second game of the season, one where the Kings were missing De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento had a 99-96 lead with 1:12 remaining on the clock. The Warriors then took a 100-99 lead before Domantas Sabonis made a shot with 15.1 seconds left in the game to give the Kings the lead. This time around, though, it was Klay Thompson who would hit the final shot of the game with defenders draped all over him.
I don’t know what it is about these two teams, but they do seem to love playing against each other. If you take a look back at their epic playoff series from last season, two of those games were also decided by three or less points. One of them, the pivotal Game 4 that could have given the Warriors a 1-3 series deficit, came down to Harrison Barnes missing a good look from beyond the arc that would have won the game.
Most NBA fans who don’t follow either team probably want to see more of these. Us Kings fans, and I’m sure Warriors fans as well, are probably happy to get a break until next season.