The Sacramento Kings’ first playoff game was as dramatic as expected. Then, the noise got louder.
In their first playoff appearance since 2006, the Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-123 in Game 1 to take an early advantage in the first-round series between the NBA’s defending champions and high-flying upstarts.
It didn’t take long for De’Aaron Fox to make the playoffs with 38 points, 5 assists and 3 steals in his first career appearance.
The energy was palpable before tipoff at Golden 1 Center. Not only were the Kings facing the NBA’s most dominant team of the last decade, they were also facing their closest rival. It’s unique, and you can hear it with a nosebleed.
The first two and a half quarters went the way Sacramento fans feared. The Kings ranked third in the Western Conference and displayed the most offensive efficiency in the NBA, but the Warriors didn’t look like they were facing anything they hadn’t seen before.
After a close first half, the Warriors took a double-digit lead in the third quarter and put their fearsome shooters to work. Stephen Curry finished with 30 points, while Klay Thompson had 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Kings came alive in the third, erasing a 10-point lead in the final three minutes to enter the fourth quarter tied. The fourth turned into an all-out war, with Curry and Fox exchanging hay makers.
A pair of Malik Monk free throws with 2.9 seconds left gave the Kings a 3-point lead.
A few minutes later, the beam lit up.
The Kings’ offensive surge was high even by their standards. They scored 69 points on the last 45 possessions of the game, 1.53 points per game. Besides Fox, Malik Monk, one of the team’s big acquisitions last season, was a big part of that win, finishing with 32 points on 13 shots and making all 14 of his free throw attempts.
Game 2 is scheduled for Monday at 7pm PT in Sacramento. All built up by the Warriors’ struggles on the road, the game suddenly looks more dangerous for the defending champions.