The Golden State Warriors were 11-30 on the road this season. Now they’re 1-2 in their first round series after gutting out a 123-116 win in Sacramento.
New sixth man Draymond Green delivered another memorable playoff performance, scoring 21 points on 8-10 shooting. He had seven assists, four steals, and seemingly every important defensive play in the final minutes as Golden State held on after blowing all but one point of a 12-point 4th quarter lead. It was Green’s first 20-point game since the Warriors’ upset victory over the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day in 2019.
But Golden State needed a huge effort from multiple players to hold off the hungry Sacramento Kings in their own building. Steph Curry’s three-point shot wasn’t falling - he was 2-10 from deep - so he went inside, going 10-15 on two-pointers and finishing with 31 points and eight assists. He also delivered a dribbling exhibition late, running down the shot clock before nailing a dagger and-one in the final minute.
WARDELL STEPHEN CURRY II pic.twitter.com/UTCIHlqvH3— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 27, 2023
Kevon Looney tied a playoff career-high with 22 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Andrew Wiggins had 20 points on 16 shots, plus two steals and two blocks, one of which he rejected so hard that it landed in Davis.
Wiggs sent the ball back to San Francisco pic.twitter.com/N2ubBdKvOZ— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 27, 2023
Foul trouble limited Klay Thompson to 32 minutes, but he poured in 25 points on a night where his shooting was occasionally white-hot. Jordan Poole had 10 points and six assists, and Gary Payton II had eight points, two steals, and four huge offensive rebounds.
For Sacramento, De’Aaron Fox had 25 points and nine assists, though his broken finger seemed to bother him late in the fourth quarter. The Warriors played off Domantas Sabonis, and he responded by hitting mid-range jumpers to finish with 21 points and ten rebounds - but five turnovers, and no assists in the second half. And Malik Monk and Harrison Barnes emerged, scoring almost all of their 21 and 13 points, respectively, after halftime.
Sacramento cut the lead to 111-110 with just over four minutes to go, but Green stole the ball on consecutive Kings possessions. A Sabonis dunk cut the lead to three with 1:35 remaining, and when Barnes drew a charge on Looney, Sacramento had a chance to tie. But Monk missed a three, Wiggins hit a jumper, and Fox missed a stepback three before Curry’s Harlem Globetrotters audition ended it.
The Warriors thought they’d turned the corner on their road defensive woes, but in the first quarter, they ran into the same problem that haunted them all season: Red-hot opponent three-point shooting. Sacramento set their franchise record for three-pointers in a quarter with eight, which they did on twelve attempts. Fox hit his first three triples with his splinted finger, and not to get all Bob Fitzgerald, but THIRTY-TWO PERCENT SHOOTER Davion Mitchell went TWO OF THREE?!? Why doesn’t anyone go to college for four years anymore?!?
Golden State opened shooting 61.9%, with a steady diet of layups. They held Sacramento to 40% shooting on two-pointers, but the outside shooting blitz let the Kings take a 36-33 lead. Curry was +4, the team was -7 when he sat. +3 of that came from banking in a three.
The bank stays open for Steph pic.twitter.com/MQgxzyxe0L— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 27, 2023
And another +3 came from shooting over a befuddled Alex Len just before the first wuarter buzzer.
The second quarter was a much tamer offensive affair. Klay Thompson caught fire midway through the period, hitting three consecutive three-pointers to give the Warriors a 53-50 lead.
Defense doesn't bother Klay pic.twitter.com/MPHHR4SCAs— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 27, 2023
A Mike Brown timeout couldn’t cool off Klay, as he hit a third three after the break, before a Draymond Green and-one made it a 12-0 run. The Warriors’ road defense stepped up to hold the Kings to 20 points, and it helped that the Kings shot 0-9 from three-point range.
Draymond Green was fired up by the constant boos from the Golden 1 Center crowd, going 5-6 with 11 points and four assists off the bench in the first half. Unlike Game 4, Steve Kerr stuck with Green coming off the bench in the second half as well.
In the third, Sacramento served up Red Velvet, as Kevin Huerter scored the first five points of the quarter. Then Fox drove to the hoop and got a technical foul for some colorful language.
De’Aaron Fox wasn’t too happy about a no call. Gets a technical. Warriors vs Kings pic.twitter.com/YEi2EZp6PC— Ball Room Service (@ballroomservice) April 27, 2023
Fueled by the chastisement, Fox got an and-one while drawing Thompson’s fourth foul four minutes into the third quarter.
Green came in for Thompson and the Warriors sandwiched two driving layups from Poole around a Wiggins three and forced a timeout.
Midway through the third, the formerly quiet Black Falcon took flight. Harrison Barnes got to the line three times in quick succession, one of them an and-one, to finally get on the scoreboard. Overall, Barnes drew four fouls - two on Curry and two on Wiggins - and shot 7-7 from the charity stripe.
Perhaps thinking of Barnes’ dunk contest appearance in 2014, Donte DiVincenzo responded with a jam.
Donte cuts to the hoop ✂️ pic.twitter.com/AqVR0cko3d— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 27, 2023
After Sacramento closed to within three, the Warriors closed the quarter on a 10-4 run, thanks to the offense of Draymond Green. He got to the line twice and hit a corner three-pointer. His last trip to the line came after Fox fouled him on a loose ball - and nearly picked up his second technical, saved only by the mercy of referee Tony Brothers.
Trailing 99-90, Malik Monk came out fast, driving and finding Sabonis for a dunk and then getting fouled by Gary Payton on another. That was briefly scary, as Payton crashed into Monk’s knee, but it also seems like the Kings sometimes just lay on the ground in case someone decides to award them with a flagrant foul.
Perhaps fired up by the malingering, GP2 responded with a dunk, a tough rebound, a tip-in on a Klay Thompson miss, and a tie-up on Sabonis that led to the Warriors taking possession after Young Glove successfully lobbied the officials to make the wrong call.
Sacramento clawed back with a 10-2 run, punctuated by Malik Monk “blocking” Green’s breakaway layup - and slapping him across the head - then hitting a three-pointer as Green stayed down under the basket. Monk benefited later when he got two free throws on a phantom foul against Andrew Wiggins - his fifth - to make it a one-point game.
This was called a foul ... pic.twitter.com/Rszn86z7kZ— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 27, 2023
Now the Warriors can close things out at the Chase Center on Saturday, though they certainly won’t take the Kings lightly after the five-game war they’ve endured. It’s just too bad for Draymond that the Sixth Man of the Year award already went out.