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SPORTS

The Kings Eliminate the Warriors from Play-in Tournament with 118-94 Win

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The chants of “Light the Beam!” started midway through the fourth quarter as the Sacramento Kings kept piling on the Golden State Warriors.

A year after having their season ended by their neighbors, the Kings dealt the Warriors a bit of payback in emphatic fashion with a victory that might have signaled the end of a dynasty.

Keegan Murray scored 32 points, De’Aaron Fox added 24 and the Kings stayed alive in the play-in tournament, eliminating the Warriors with a 118-94 victory on Tuesday night.

“We knew what was on the line,” Fox said. “This was just another obstacle in our way. We have to get over this hump. Obviously, losing to this team last year and obviously facing this team now, it’s like, of course we have to face this team.”

Sacramento advanced to play at New Orleans on Friday night with a chance to return to the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference after snapping an NBA-record 16-year playoff drought last season.

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (5) dunks over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

The Kings avenged a Game 7 loss at home to Golden State in last year’s first round by playing cleaner and being quicker to loose balls against the older Warriors in what was one of the most consequential wins for the franchise in two decades.

The loss kept Golden State out of the playoffs for the third time in the past five seasons, including two eliminations in the play-in tournament. The Warriors committed 16 turnovers, gave up 15 offensive rebounds and way too many open 3-pointers, looking nothing like the dynastic team that won four titles from 2015-22.

“I was a sophomore in high school watching them win championships,” Fox said. “We’ve been watching this team for a long time. If it is the end, it is what it is. I’m I’m glad we’re able to beat this team at this at this moment but, they definitely had a hell of a run.”

Klay Thompson missed all 10 shots from the field in what could have been his final game with the Warriors as he heads to unrestricted free agency this summer and a potential breakup of the championship trio of Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

“We need Klay back. I know he had a tough night tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I know I speak for everyone in the organization, we want him back. Obviously there’s business at hand and that has to be addressed. … But what Klay has meant to this franchise, as good as he is, we definitely want him back.”

With Thompson struggling, Curry didn’t get nearly enough help. Curry finished with 22 points but was hounded for much of the game by Keon Ellis.

The undrafted Ellis, who was on a two-way contract until February, added 15 points to go with his strong defense. Harrison Barnes scored 17 and Domantas Sabonis had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Sacramento.

“For the most part, they just took it to us the whole game,” Curry said. “There’s really no way around it.”

The meeting between the Northern California rivals separated by less than 100 miles was a rematch of last year’s series won by Golden State. Curry scored 50 points in the seventh game.

The crowd was loud from the start even if the energy didn’t quite reach the level of last year’s matchup, when Sacramento fans celebrated the end of the record-long playoff drought.

Murray hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter and the Kings built their lead to 16 points in the second quarter before the Warriors rallied behind their bench to cut the deficit to 54-50 at the half.

Golden State got within one early in the third quarter before Sacramento responded with a 19-5 run keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from Ellis and more big shots from Murray to build the lead back to 15 points. The Kings were never threatened after that.

“The first play was for me and we just kind of kept going to that early on in the game,” Murray said. “When you’re shot is falling, especially when mine is falling, they always seem to find me.”

UP NEXT

Kings: Sacramento went 0-5 in the regular season against New Orleans and hasn’t gone winless in six or more games against the same opponent in a season since going 0-8 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983-84 regular season and playoffs.


By JOSH DUBOW AP Sports Writer

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