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All the Kings’ Men, Women and their Cowbells: Sacramento rattles NBA Champs in playoff opener, 126-123


PhilBoxing.com





Sacramento, California (Golden 1 Center)

The Kings are back in the playoffs after a 17-year hibernation, edging the Warriors 126-123, last Saturday night.

Sacramento’s hard-fought win over their visiting Nor-Cal neighbors, the reigning and defending 2021-22 NBA champions, quenched a massive drought thanks to a long brewing, not-so-secret formula involving De’Aaron Fox, Coach Mike Brown…and cowbells.

Famed actors Christopher Walken and Will Farrell, the dynamic comedic duo who collaboratively coined the phrase in a classic SNL skit “We need more cowbells!” would have been so proud.

The commensurate lights, sounds and energy at the Golden 1 Center focused the spotlight on the arduous climb to relevance and contention for the Kings who hosted their first playoff appearance since the 2005-06 season.

The decibel meter in the arena matched the drama on the court which featured 12 ties and an astounding 24 lead changes.

Heading into the fourth quarter, both teams were virtually tied— Kings 91 and the Warriors 90.

The game was not clearly decided until the last bucket.

In an electrifying performance, De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento with 38 points-15 of which in the final quarter- tying John Williamson for the second-most in a player's postseason debut in NBA history, way back on April 11,1979. Fox eclipsed Eddie Johnson (25, 4/18/84 at LAL) and Jerry Lucas (25, 3/22/64 vs. PHI) for most points in a playoff debut game in Kings franchise history.

Not to be outdone, Malik Monk piled in another 32 off the bench, the most by a reserve in their postseason debut in NBA history, passing Ben Gordon (4/24/05, CHI vs. WAS). Monk shot 14-for-14 from the free-throw line, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to make 14 free throws without a miss in a postseason game.

Star center Domantas Sabonis was contained by the Warriors defenders but still managed a double-double, 12 points and 16 rebounds.

The surging Kings, as a team, made 44-of-98 buckets (44.9% FG), drained 12-of-32 treys (37.5% 3-PT), controlled the boards with more rebounds (50 to 41), had more steals (10 to 7), scored more points on the fast break (12 to 9).

The Kings led by as much as 6 points, controlled the paint and converted more near the rim (60 to 44 points), and made more free throws, 26/32 for 81.3% on the line while the Warriors went 21/27 for 77.8%.



By contrast, Golden State had the early momentum and led 61-55 at halftime, and were up by as much as 10 points in the third quarter, then stumbled in the third quarter allowing the Kings back in giving up 13 unanswered points.

As a team, the Warriors made 43-of-90 buckets (47.8% FG), drained 16-of-50 treys (32% 3-PT), dished more (31 to 18 assists), and had more blocks (7 to 3). The Dubs did score more points after turnovers, 16 to 5, despite committing more turnovers (15 to 13).

Draymond Green, in a postgame assessment said in his podcast, “De’Aaron Fox may get 38 points, you can’t give up 32 to Malik Monk, off the bench.

Steph Curry led the visiting team with 30 points, followed by Klay Thompson with 21, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole with 17 apiece, Donte DiVincenzo with 10, and the trio Gary Payton II-Jonathan Kuminga-Kevin Looney with 8 each.



Coming back from a two-month absence, Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points in 28 minutes, notched a career-high 4 blocks, appeared rusty beyond the arc only making 1-of-8 trey attempts, and just missed an open 3-pointer in the left corner with 10.3 seconds left. He should not feel too bad, as Steph Curry likewise missed what would have been a game-tying trey with less than 3 seconds left.

Andrew Wiggins, whose father Mitchell Wiggins once played for the Philippine Basketball Association and La Tondeña 65 Rhum Masters (Ginebra) back in 1994, said of his new role coming off the bench, “I approach it the same way. I didn't really switch anything up just because I haven't come off the bench before. I'll do whatever the team needs me to do. I know when I go out there and step on the floor, I compete.

On his potential game-leading miss beyond the arc he surmised, "I was disappointed when it didn't go in, for sure, because it was a big shot. The game is on the line. But that won't stop me from shooting the same shot next game.

On his return to basketball, playoff time at the wild Golden 1 Center:

"I love it. I love it. The fans are loud and they're into the game. That's playoff basketball - you know that's what you want to play in.



Upcoming:

The Warriors extended their visit at the State Capitol to prepare for Game 2 of their first-round series vs. the Kings on Monday at 7 p.m.

Note of Appreciation:

The collage photos, statistics and quotes in this article are courtesy of the NBA, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. The post-game photo of Andrew Wiggins is brought to you by PhilBoxing.com.

Special thanks to Warriors VP of Public Relations Mr. Raymond Ridder for the kind assist for this aspiring writer.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.


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