By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Sacramento Kings came up big in their first game back in the NBA post-season after 16 long years when they stunned the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round matchup, 126-123, last April 16, 2023.
Facing the huge challenge as the underdog team despite clinching the higher seed and the home-court advantage over Golden State, the young and electric Sacramento squad proved they are no fluke and fought fire with fire against the defending champions.
Sacramento hit the ground running midway through the third quarter and changed the entire complexion of the game when they quickly erased Golden State’s double-digit lead.
The Warriors looked to blow the game wide-open after Stephen Curry drained a long-ranged three-point bomb that extended their lead to 10 points, 86-76.
Just when Golden State thought they had Game 1 in the bag, the duo of De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk brought the entire Golden 1 Center Arena down and carried Sacramento’s scoring load in the last 15 minutes of the game.
With Golden State’s shots still falling despite the pressure given and the degree of difficulty, Sacramento head coach Mike Brown decided to match their artillery with his firepower and went all offensive to close the show in dramatic fashion.
Fox, the team’s newly celebrated superstar, played clutch in his NBA playoff debut and top-scored the game with 38 big points, five assists, and three steals.
After a quiet performance in the first half, Fox stepped on the gas pedal in the last two quarters and torched the entire Golden State squad when he poured 15 markers in the final canto to seal the deal and avoid an early 0-1 playoff hole.
It was an intense back-and-forth in the last three minutes of the game as the experienced Golden State team always provided answers when Sacramento made their run.
Trailing 118-123, Curry helped the Warriors stay within striking distance when he drained a step-back trey to cut the lead to a deuce, 121-123.
With 13.3 seconds left, the Warriors had the chance to retake the lead after their beautiful ball movement led to a wide-open Andrew Wiggins in the left trey corner but fortunately for the Kings, his shot was too strong and was collected by Domantas Sabonis.
Draymond Green then fouled Monk who was waiting for the outlet pass and cashed in the cold-blooded shots from the charity stripe that pushed their cushion to three points.
The Warriors had one last chance to equalize the game and force overtime but Curry’s one-handed flip shot from downtown in desperation badly missed and barely hit the net.
Golden State will look to go back to the drawing board and level the first-round series at 1-1 on April 18, 2023, in Game 2 of the Western Conference clash.