Before tip-off, the Sacramento Kings had lost three-straight games to the Warriors counting back to Game 7 of the first round, where Steph Curry went nuclear and dropped 50 points in Sacramento to dash the upstart Kings’ hopes of making the second round. Curry then out-dueled Kings star De’Aaron Fox in their first game this season, and then Thompson hit a game-winning bucket with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to win their second meeting.
This time around, the stakes were a bit higher, as the Kings needed to win the game or lose by less than 12 points to advance to the knockout stages of the in-season tournament. Things were shaky from the beginning, as the Dubs blitzed their way to a 24-point lead at one point in the first half before settling in with a 17-point lead after the whistle blew at the end of the second quarter.
The Warriors still looked comfortable at the start of the third quarter but watched the Kings go on an 11-4 run to close out the third quarter, which cut the lead to 104-95 in favor of Golden State, but the momentum had clearly shifted by then. Fueled by the desire to finally get that win, Fox was relentless in the second half before finishing the game with 29 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Fox didn’t make it easy for his team, though, as he shot 9 of 17 from the free throw line. He wasn’t the only culprit, though, the Kings only made 27 of 42 overall free throw.
Fox’s determination rubbed off on a couple of his teammates, including Kevin Huerter, who bounced back from early season struggles with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists while shooting 8 of 14 overall and 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Malik Monk, Fox’s best friend on the team and former Kentucky teammate, also rose to the occasion, finishing with 21 points along with a steal and a couple of crucial blocks. Monk was the game’s hero at the end as he scored the Kings’ final five points that turned a 122-118 deficit into a 123-122 win.
Domantas Sabonis, who at this point might have to start calling Kevon Looney his dad, struggled again with his scoring and only had nine points, but also had eight rebounds, 10 assists and a steal to contribute on other ends.
It was a wasted game for the Warriors, who saw Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson combine for 78 points, 30 rebounds and 10 assists. While Wiggins was efficient and shot 11 of 18 overall, Curry and Thompson both struggled with their shot and went 14 of 35 overall and 7 of 22 from three. Steve Kerr also made a perplexing decision to ice Moses Moody in the fourth quarter after Moody hit three long-range shots in a row during a three-minute sequence where he was the only Warrior to score.
Draymond Green had a quadruple-single of eight points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks in his return from suspension, but the excitement from his two made three-pointers faded for Warriors fans after he got a rare technical foul called on him and followed it up with a foul.
The Kings won’t have it easy in the quarterfinals, though, as they face a New Orleans Pelicans team that’s already blown them out once and beat them in another close game two days later. They’ve also got to face the LA Clippers in the second night of a back-to-back next, so this win will feel even better.
One thing’s for sure, though, there’s never a dull moment when the Dubs and Kings meet, and we’ll get to watch them battle at least one more time this season.