SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Sacramento Kings challenged themselves to play with the very identity that got them this far in the first place: Push the ball in transition, make all the hustle plays, defend with fury.
When Stephen Curry came through on a big 3-pointer or driving layup, the Kings delivered to maintain momentum. Time and again they quieted a raucous crowd counting on celebrating another victorious playoff series.
Not just yet, Dub Nation. Coach Mike Brown’s Kings are determined to do more in their return to the postseason stage — they want to Light the Beam back home in California’s capital.
Malik Monk scored 28 points, De’Aaron Fox added 26 points and 11 assists, and the playoff-newcomer Kings staved off elimination in their first-round playoff series by beating Curry and the Golden State Warriors 118-99 on Friday night in Game 6.
Now, a winner-takes-all Game 7 is back in Sacramento on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s a big opportunity,” Fox said.
Rookie Keegan Murray scored 15 points with four 3-pointers and grabbed 12 rebounds for his first playoff double-double, and the No. 3-seeded Kings withstood every scoring surge the defending champions made on their home court and shined in nearly every facet of this one with their special season on the line.
Kevin Huerter, struggling with his shot all series — 20 of 52 coming into the game — hit a 3 with 6:23 to go and another with 4:58 left as Sacramento gave its fans at least one more chance to cheer these upstart Kings.
“This is exactly what I expected and I expect a little bit more from both teams in Golden 1,” Monk said. “We’re going to be prepared.”
Curry scored 29, Klay Thompson 22 and Kevon Looney pulled down 13 more rebounds to give him an NBA-leading 85 this postseason. He was coming off a career-high 22 rebounds in a Game 5 win at Golden 1 Center.
But the Kings, in the postseason for the first time since 2006, answered almost every big play by Golden State in the third quarter and capitalized on regular miscues. They outhustled the Warriors to the boards.
“I thought we played hard but we didn’t play smart. We didn’t execute our game plan,” Looney said. “We know what we needed to do to win. All the small things, getting back in transition, the box-outs, the turnovers, different things like that, we didn’t execute.”
The Kings led 90-80 heading into the final 12 minutes. Curry hit an early 3, only for Trey Lyles to connect moments later. When Curry drove for a layup the next possession, Monk made one of his own.
Curry’s 3 with 9:28 left got Golden State within 99-89 before Fox hit.
Fox’s first points came on a jumper with 2:18 left in the first on his first shot. He then scored again the next time down still dealing with a broken index finger on his shooting hand. He shot 10 for 18.
Sacramento snapped a six-game losing streak on the Warriors’ home floor, dating to a win on Feb. 25, 2020.
“They came out with more force and more energy and they executed better. The right team won, that’s for sure,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They came in and earned the victory. And now we’ve got to regroup and get ready for Game 7.”
Lyles wound up with 12 points and 10 rebounds as others picked up the slack with Domantas Sabonis in foul trouble. The big man had seven points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 5:17 left.
Fox had been frustrated with his poor fourth quarter in Wednesday’s 123-116 defeat in which he went 0 for 6 from the field and was scoreless — the most shots he had ever taken in a final period without scoring.
Draymond Green came off the bench for a third straight game and received a rousing standing ovation when checking in for the first time at the 6:26 mark of the opening quarter. He had 10 assists.
Both teams took a while to warm up, with Sacramento starting 6 for 23 and Golden State 6 of 19.
The Kings were unfazed.
“We’ve had a great spirit, we have all year. We’ve responded all year,” Huerter said. “We didn’t lose faith. We knew we had a Game 7 back at home. We’re capable of winning in this building. Our offense has been asleep I think most of this series. We just know if we can get back to ourselves we could continue this series. We did that tonight. But our confidence never wavered.”
Kings: Sacramento’s bench outscored the Warriors’ reserves 52-21. … The Kings were 4 of 16 to start from deep but finished 17 of 45. … Sabonis suffered a cut under his left eye on a jump ball with Looney in the second quarter.
Warriors: Curry missed three free throws, practically unheard of, as his team went 25 of 35 from the line. … The Warriors gave up 23 points on their 19 turnovers. … Green picked up his third foul at the 7:09 mark of the second quarter. … Golden State is 8-3 in Game 6s dating back to their 2015 title run and 22-11 in close-out games.
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