Stephen Curry scored a career-high 50 points in the playoffs and responded time and time again to cheer on the defending champions in their quest for a repeat, Kevon Looney grabbed 21 rebounds and the Golden State Warriors advanced to the semifinals of the Western Conference by beating the Sacramento Kings. 120-100 in Game 7 of the winner takes all on Sunday.
Curry’s points are the most in NBA history in a Game 7, surpassing former teammate Kevin Durant’s 48 for the Nets against Milwaukee in 2021.
The Warriors fell behind 2-0 in this series and then won twice on the road in front of a hostile, cowbell-ringing crowd in the state capital to become the first reigning champion to lose the first two games and win any game. postseason series.
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Now, bring LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers into the Western Conference semifinals with all that NBA Finals history featuring James and Golden State from their Cleveland days. Game 1 is Tuesday night at the Chase Center.
Sacramento’s special comeback season ended much sooner than these young Kings had planned. After snapping a 16-year playoff drought, the longest in NBA history, under Coach of the Year Mike Brown, playoff-hungry Sacramento earned the No. 3 seed but failed to advance to the second round for first time since 2004. No more Light the Beam at Golden 1 Center this season.
Curry shot 20-for-38 with seven 3-pointers and gave up after nearly every big play for Sacramento as Splash Brother Klay Thompson again struggled on both ends. But Thompson also appeared at some pivotal moments.
Malik Monk’s kickback and three-point play with 14.6 seconds remaining in the third brought Sacramento within six, but Thompson hit a long 3-pointer and converted a four-point play to make it 91-81 going into the final 12 minutes.
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Domantas Sabonis had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but the Warriors kept De’Aaron Fox in check as he scored 16 points on 5-of-19 shooting in his third game playing with a broken index finger on his shooting hand.
Trailing 58-56 at halftime, the Warriors opened the second half on a 13-4 burst to take a 69-62 lead and force a Kings timeout at the 7:50 mark.
Sacramento scored early on with a beautiful mix of classic rallies and long shots with crisp passes around the perimeter.
But Curry kept coming and Looney kept fighting to create second and third downs during their scintillating drive on the boards.
Curry shot from behind with precision and fearlessly drove to the basket with jaw-dropping stunts throughout the afternoon to send Kings fans to slams late in the quarter.
Thompson started 1 for 10 missing his first five 3-pointers before connecting at the 9:18 mark of the third. Golden State, playing just its fourth Game 7 under Steve Kerr since the 2014-15 title run, was smart down the stretch after 18 turnovers in Game 6 led to 23 Kings points and Kerr qualified. his team as «grossly undisciplined.»
Kerr had no doubts going into the clincher, returning to Draymond Green in the starting lineup for Game 7 with the season on the line after the fiery forward came off the bench the previous two games following a Game 3 suspension for stepping on to Domantas. Sabonis.
«These guys are champions, defending champions a year ago, four in the last eight years, these guys know the deal,» Kerr said. «There’s a sense of confidence and a feeling that we’re going to make it.»
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Just before the final bell, Kerr offered a long hug to Brown, the former Golden State top assistant who once coached the Warriors during Kerr’s sick leave and simply guided the Kings’ remarkable turnaround.
LOONEY ON THE TABLES
Looney finished with 106 rebounds in the series, 37 on the offensive board. This was his fifth consecutive playoff game with double-digit rebounds.
In the last five games of the series, Looney had 90 rebounds and 34 on the offensive end with 27 assists.
Since all rounds went best-of-seven in 2003, the other two teams coming off titles that trailed 2-0 were swept: the Heat lost to the Bulls in 2007 and the Mavericks lost to the Thunder in 2012.
Kings: The Kings outrebounded Golden State 28-22 in the first half. … After the Sacramento bench outscored the Warriors 52-21 in Game 6, the reserves came out on top again: 25-8 in the first half and 41-18 overall.
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Warriors: Curry missed back-to-back free throws in the second and Thompson couldn’t make a pair early in the third. Golden State was 19 of 30 from the line after missing 10 free throws in Game 6 (25 of 35). … Gary Payton II blocked four shots. … The Warriors improved to 3-1 in Game 7 since 2015. Golden State hadn’t been to Game 7 since May 28, 2018, in Houston in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors won to reach their fourth straight final en route to a repeat championship. … Golden State improved to 19-0 in playoff series against Western opponents under Kerr.