The first playoff game ever played between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings was, understandably, a whirlwind. Here’s what you may have missed from the Kings’ 126-123 victory in their first playoff game since 2006.
Sacramento legends like Jason Williams weren’t the only recognizable faces at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Those who haven’t followed the Kings closely might be surprised to see Barry Bonds and 50 Cent in attendance as well. 50 Cent’s been a regular at Kings games ever since the team inked a partnership with his Sire Spirits in the summer, and Bonds has rubbed elbows with Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé ever since the Kings became the majority owner of the Sacramento River Cats, the SF Giants’ Triple-A affiliate.
Political rivals were also in the building, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Rep. Kevin Kiley. A Granite Bay native, Kiley represents California’s third congressional district, but he wasn’t in fancy seats with any bigwigs.
Rapper E-40, a Vallejo native who's been spotted at Warriors playoff games throughout their current window of success, was reportedly ejected from the arena. Video shows E-40, birth name Earl Stevens, being removed not by an arena security member, but by a man wearing some sort of credentials around his neck and a shirt with a Warriors logo on it.
No Sacramento starter hit a 3-pointer until De’Aaron Fox connected with 1:09 left in the third, cutting Golden State’s lead to 88-86. Backups Trey Lyles and Malik Monk kept the Kings within striking distance until Fox heated up.
Fox finished 4-for-8 from deep, while Sacramento’s other four starters went just 1-for-12. Kevin Huerter, a 40.2% 3-point shooter in the regular season, went 0-for-5. Domantas Sabonis also struggled, going 5-for-17 and committing a team-high four turnovers.
While it took time for Fox to heat up, fellow Kentucky product Monk was stellar, scoring 32 points. The two shared the backcourt for the Wildcats in the 2016-17 season. Lyles, who played for Kentucky two years earlier, made four of his six 3-point attempts and scored 16. In all, former Kentucky Wildcats scored 86 of Sacramento’s 126 points.
Fox made up for his slow start, knocking down three 3-pointers in the fourth and finishing with a game-high 38 points in his playoff debut. His 3-pointer with 3:50 left gave the Kings a 115-114 advantage they’d never relinquish. He scored 14 points in the third quarter and 15 in the fourth. Unsurprisingly, Fox lit the Kings’ victory beam following the game, delighting spectators both inside and outside of Golden 1 Center.
Golden State led 86-78 with 2:18 left in the third quarter when Stephen Curry was subbed out. Sacramento outscored the Warriors 13-4 over the remainder of the quarter to take a one-point lead, then stretched the lead to 101-97 before Curry finally returned. In all, the Kings outscored Golden State 23-11 with him on the bench.
With Sacramento leading 123-121 and Fox headed to the free throw line with 58.7 seconds remaining, Bay Area DirecTV subscribers had their ABC feed abruptly stopped by an error message. Coverage didn’t return until there were 26 seconds remaining in the game, just before Fox missed a mid-range jumper with the Kings up 124-123.
Down a single point with 10 seconds left, the Warriors didn’t look to Curry. Instead, Klay Thompson kicked to Andrew Wiggins in the corner, who missed and finished the game 1-for-8 from 3-point range.
Malik Monk, who made all 14 of his free throws, put the Kings up 126-123 by making both foul shots with 2.9 left, and after a timeout, Curry’s last-gasp floater-esque 3-point attempt missed.
The loss marked Golden State’s first defeat in a playoff opener since 2013 when they fell 97-95 to the Denver Nuggets. They went on to win that series in six games. Saturday marked just their fourth loss in 25 playoff series openers under Steve Kerr, and their first in the Western Conference Quarterfinals since he became head coach before the 2014-15 season.
Golden State has won two of the prior three series after losing Game 1 under Kerr, beating Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference Finals and topping Boston in the 2022 NBA Finals. The lone series loss after a Game 1 defeat was the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
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