The Sacramento Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-106 to take a 2-0 lead over the NBA champions after a bruising game two in their best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series on Monday.
After edging a thrilling game one on Saturday, the Kings once again proved too much for the Warriors in another pulsating postseason battle between the two Northern Californian rivals in Sacramento.
De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis led the Sacramento scoring with 24 points apiece in a stormy encounter that saw Warriors stalwart Draymond Green ejected after stamping on the chest of Sabonis in the fourth quarter.
The victory leaves the Kings on pole position as the series heads to San Francisco for game three on Thursday.
“We came out here tonight and everyone fought, we were locked in,” Sabonis told TNT television.
“It’s playoff basketball. We’re here to fight. Every time we step on the floor we’re going to give everything for our team-mates and our franchise.”
Sabonis was reluctant to be drawn on the explosive fourth-quarter tangle with Green that led to the Warriors veteran being tossed.
Green was ejected after appearing to aim a stamp on Sabonis’s chest as the Kings player held on to his ankle as he lay on the court.
“We were both fighting for the rebound, we fell on each other, stuff happens, it’s basketball. We’ve got to move on to the next play,” Sabonis said.
Green pinned the blame on Sabonis. “I’ve got to land my foot somewhere,” Green said. “I can only step so far when I’m pulling my leg away. It is what it is.”
Steph Curry led the Warriors scoring with 28 points while Andrew Wiggins finished with 22 and Klay Thompson 21.
However the Warriors were left ruing a litany of 20 turnovers that gave up cheap points to Sacramento, who led from early in the second quarter.
Golden State clawed their way back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to tie it at 93-93 midway through the fourth.
But Sacramento responded to pull clear down the stretch and close out a gutsy win.
“We didn’t play well enough to win a playoff game on the road,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “With that said, it was a tie game with a few minutes left.
“We know we have to play better, and we will play better. These guys are champions. The way our guys fought showed what they’re made of.”
Sixers dominate Nets
In Monday’s other playoff game, Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 96-84 to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference series.
Maxey’s haul from 13-of-23 shooting included six from three-point range as Brooklyn finally succumbed after making a bright start that saw them lead by 10 points in the second quarter.
Brooklyn were left ruing their inability to make the most of their first-half dominance against a sluggish-looking Sixers, who nevertheless restricted the Nets to just a five-point advantage as the teams went in for half-time at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
Philadelphia’s adjustments paid dividends in the third and fourth quarters, with the Sixers outscoring Brooklyn 24-14 in the third before wrapping up victory in the fourth.
Joel Embiid, double-teamed throughout, finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds while laying on seven assists as Maxey and Tobias Harris (20 points) shouldered the offensive responsibilities.
“He trusts in me, and he trusts in Tobias to make the big shots tonight, and that’s what we did,” Maxey said of Embiid’s selfless performance.
Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers admitted his team had been lucky to face only a five-point deficit heading into half-time.
“I thought we wasted the whole first half,” Rivers said. “We were fortunate. At half-time they could have been up more with the way we played. We’re a better team than the way we played in the first half.
“But this is what the playoffs are all about — it’s gonna test your trust. This was an early test for us, and we came through it.”
Cameron Johnson led the Brooklyn scoring with 28 points while Mikal Bridges finished with 21 and Spencer Dinwiddie 12.
Game three in the series takes place in Brooklyn on Thursday.
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