A Game 4 thriller turned into a high-stakes duel in San Francisco on Sunday as the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 126-125 win over the Sacramento Kings.
The win saw the Warriors survive a late critical error from Stephen Curry as they dodged the brink of elimination to send the series back to Sacramento tied at 2-2.
Curry battled with De’Aaron Fox throughout the game while leading the Warriors with 32 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. But the game almost fell apart when Curry called a timeout that Golden State didn’t have.
An ensuing technical foul and a Fox 3-pointer with 28.1 seconds left led the Kings to cut their deficit to 126-125. A defensive save on Golden State’s next possession set them up for a potential game-winner with a 3-1 series lead on the line. But Harrison Barnes’ 3-pointer in the final second of the game was not on target and the Warriors survived with the win.
Fox scored 12 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter to help cut a 10-point 3rd quarter deficit to 1. He had the ball in his hands to start final possession, but a double team of Curry and Draymond Green held him back. forced to pass to Barnes for the final blow. Barnes was open, but the ball bounced off the back of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Warriors Survive Steph’s Late Error
The late stoppage fended off a potential excruciating collapse after the Warriors took a five-point lead with possession in the final minute of the game. But Curry called a timeout the Warriors didn’t have with 42.1 seconds remaining as he led Golden State in the frontcourt.
The offense drew a technical foul that put Malik Monk on the line for a free throw to cut Golden State’s lead to 126-122.
It also gave Sacramento possession of the ball. After a missed jump from Barnes and an offensive rebound, Fox made the Warriors pay with a deep pull-up 3 to Green’s outstretched right hand. The shot cut Golden State’s lead to 1, but the Kings didn’t regain the lead.
The game got off to a torrid start as Sacramento took a 32-31 lead in the first quarter. At halftime, the Kings were leading, 69-65, thanks in large part to a 21-point outburst from Fox.
After a suspension for his Domantas Sabonis stomp, Green started Sunday’s game on the bench in favor of Jordan Poole, who started in his place in Thursday’s Game 3 win. It was the first time Green had come off the bench in a playoff game since 2014. But he was back with the starting unit to start the third quarter.
Green’s main mission after halftime was to guard Fox. The effort paid off in the third as Golden State limited Fox to 5 points in the stanza and entered the fourth with a 102-92 lead. A 3-pointer from Klay Thompson to beat the third-quarter buzzer secured the 10-point margin.
But the Kings fought back thanks in large part to Fox, whose 12 points in the fourth quarter demonstrated why he was named NBA Player of the Year. They briefly regained a 107-106 lead on a Malik Monk layup with 9:03 remaining. But a pair of Curry buckets including a long 2 with his toe on the line extended Golden State’s lead to 110-107. The Kings kept things close to that, but never exceeded the game’s final 1-point margin again.
Apart from his mistake, Curry was in great shape in a game where Golden State needed everything it got from him. He added 5 rebounds and 4 assists to his total of 32 points while shooting 5 of 11 from 3-point range. He got plenty of help from his backcourt teammates as Thompson totaled 26 points on a 9-of-14 shooting effort and Poole added 22 points and 4 assists. Green struggled on offense while posting 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. His defensive effort on Fox in the third helped offset a 3-of-14 performance from the field.
Fox added 9 points and 5 assists to his 38 points. Keegan Murray burst with 23 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 5 of 7 from 3-point range. The rookie forward had 10 points in Sacramento’s previous 3 games in the series, the first of his playoff career. Malik Monk added 16 points off the bench while Davion Mitchell added 12 alongside a strong defense when assigned to Curry. But that wasn’t quite enough to earn Golden State the home win.
A streak the Kings once led 2-0 now returns to Sacramento on Wednesday.