Stephen Curry’s indomitable spirit was on full show as he fearlessly drove to the basket, executing jaw-dropping acrobatics and unleashing pin-point precision photographs from manner past the arc in a Sport 7 extravaganza for the ages, charming the world along with his big-game swagger and leaving a celebratory grin etched on his face.
He even playfully pretended to push the button and Gentle the Beam, Sacramento-style.
Curry scored a playoff career-high 50 factors in essentially the most prolific Sport 7 efficiency ever and answered repeatedly to will the Warriors on of their quest for a repeat, sending Golden State into the Western Convention semifinals with a 120-100 win in opposition to the Sacramento Kings in Sunday’s winner-take-all Sport 7.
Curry led a memorable comeback within the sequence, too, maybe inconceivable even for the defending champions after they bought down 2-0 and given their street woes all season.
“It is wonderful ‘cuz you’re nonetheless within the combat,” Curry mentioned. “Higher than the choice of on the surface trying in. Having been down 0-2 on this sequence, nothing was assured, you do not take something with no consideration.”
Curry’s factors are essentially the most in NBA historical past in a Sport 7, topping former teammate Kevin Durant’s 48 for the Nets in opposition to Milwaukee in 2021.
“For Steph to be the primary participant ever to get 50 in a Sport 7, he’s chic,” coach Steve Kerr mentioned.
Kevon Looney grabbed 21 rebounds for a Warriors group that wanted to win twice on the street going through a hostile, cowbell-clanging crowd within the state capital to change into the primary reigning champion to drop the primary two video games and win any postseason sequence.
Now, carry on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers within the Western Convention semifinals with all that NBA Finals historical past between James and Golden State courting to his Cleveland days. Sport 1 is Tuesday night time at Chase Middle.
Sacramento’s particular comeback season is over lengthy earlier than these younger Kings had deliberate. After snapping a 16-year playoff drought – longest in NBA historical past – underneath Coach of the 12 months Mike Brown, playoff-starved Sacramento missed advancing to the second spherical for the primary time since 2004.
Curry shot 20 of 38 with seven 3s and delivered after virtually each large play by Sacramento as Splash Brother Klay Thompson struggled on each ends once more. However Thompson got here by in some essential moments.
“What an unbelievable efficiency,” Thompson mentioned. “It is a Sport 7 I’ll eternally keep in mind because the Steph Curry sport.”
Malik Monk’s putback and three-point play with 14.6 seconds remaining within the third pulled Sacramento inside six just for Thompson to hit an extended 3 and convert a four-point play to make it 91-81 heading into the ultimate 12 minutes.
Domantas Sabonis had 22 factors, eight rebounds and 7 assists however the Warriors held De’Aaron Fox in verify as he scored 16 factors on 5-for-19 taking pictures in his third sport taking part in with a damaged index finger on his taking pictures hand.
Trailing 58-56 at halftime, the Warriors opened the second half with a 13-4 burst and held the Kings to 42 factors after intermission.
Sacramento had scored early on with a good looking mixture of basic give-and-goes and lengthy jumpers off crisp passing across the perimeter.
However Curry stored coming, and Looney stored scrapping to create second and third alternatives to cap his sensible sequence on the boards. They despatched Kings followers to the exits late within the fourth.
Thompson started 1 for 10 lacking his first 5 3s earlier than connecting on the 9:18 mark of the third and ending with 16 factors on 4-for-19 taking pictures – “disgusting,” he mentioned – whereas taking part in smothering protection. Golden State, taking part in simply its fourth Sport 7 underneath Kerr because the 2014-15 title run, was sensible down the stretch after 18 turnovers in Sport 6 led to 23 Kings factors and Kerr calling his group “wildly undisciplined.”
Kerr had little doubt earlier than the deciding sport – and he went again to Draymond Inexperienced within the beginning lineup for Sport 7 with the season on the road after the fiery ahead got here off the bench the earlier three contests following a Sport 3 suspension for stepping on Sabonis.
Simply earlier than the ultimate buzzer, Kerr provided an extended embrace to Brown – Golden State’s former prime assistant who as soon as coached the Warriors on the postseason stage throughout Kerr’s prolonged well being absence and simply guided the Kings’ exceptional turnaround.
“I am unable to dream of nothing like this, gotta see it in individual,” Monk mentioned of all of the successes. “You may’t dream something like this except you are doing it. Wanting ahead to being again subsequent yr.”