Stephen Curry scores 50 points to beat Kings in Game 7

Stephen Curry scores 50 points to beat Kings in Game 7

SACRAMENTO — The Golden State Warriors prepared for the finale of their first-round playoff series with the Sacramento Kings by heading to an off-day film session Saturday on an upper floor of the Chase Center, their San Francisco home arena, with panoramic views gathered view of the bay.

Coach Steve Kerr likes to host his film sessions there when space is available. Otherwise, he said, the team will be “stuck in the dungeons” outside his dressing room. He was grateful for the open space, especially ahead of Sunday’s seventh game. It was a therapeutic experience.

“I think there has to be perspective,” Kerr said, “even if it’s just a nice view and some sunshine and a chance to breathe and relax between games. That can make a difference.”

Something else can also make a difference: Stephen Curry. No one seemed more zen on Sunday than Curry, who led the Warriors to a 120-100 win that made the series crucial, impaling the Kings in every way possible on his way to 50 points – an NBA record for a game 7. He sunk parabolic 3 hands. He drove layups. He played with defenders. And he sent countless Kings fans onto the streets of Sacramento before the game was over.

“Exalted,” Kerr said.

“Total dominance,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green.

“It’s a pleasure to watch,” Warden Klay Thompson said.

Curry, Thompson and Green have spent years demolishing opponents as one of the NBA’s most celebrated cores. The Kings, on the other hand, made their first postseason appearance since 2006. They had youth and energy. The Warriors have championship DNA.

“It was a great time bringing everything together,” Curry said. “There’s still nervousness and fear and anticipation before a big night. But when we get out of there, our experience will prevail.”

Curry, who arrived at the Golden 1 Center in an all-black ensemble as if dressed for a wake, shot 20-of-38 from field and 7-of-18 from 3-point range. He also had eight rebounds and six assists.

“What an incredible performance of all time,” said Thompson.

Western Conference No. 6 Golden State meets the Los Angeles Lakers in a conference semifinals that begins Tuesday in San Francisco. The Lakers eliminated the second-placed Memphis Grizzlies in their first-round series on Friday.

“To do that for a decade is incredible,” Kerr said of his regulars. “The energy it takes to hold your own against challengers and set up and win games, year after year, and do it over and over again — there’s a reason these guys are Hall of Famers and champions.”

The Warriors and Kings franchises have long been less than 100 miles apart, but over the past decade they’ve produced very different brands of basketball — opposing brands of basketball, actually.

While the Warriors were busy winning championships (four), playing in NBA Finals (six), and reengineering the way basketball is played thanks to the Splash Brothers (Curry and Thompson), the Kings spent the past decade struggling through a desert of futility that has pushed her to the brink of insignificance.

Their makeover began last season when they acquired Sabonis, an all-star center, in a deal with Indiana. It continued into the offseason when they signed reserve guard Malik Monk to a free hand, traded with Atlanta for Kevin Huerter, and hired Mike Brown, one of Kerr’s assistants, as their coach.

In fact, the Kings, led by De’Aaron Fox, their all-star point guard, went 48-34 in the regular season and christened each win by firing a purple beam of light from the roof of their arena. “Light the beam!” became a rallying cry that helped bury – if not completely erase – the dysfunction of years past.

On Saturday night, before Game 7, Brown had dinner with his partner’s son at a Sacramento-area restaurant. A small parade of boys approached their table to ask Brown some succinct questions about the team’s players. They asked about Sabonis’ right thumb, which was broken during the regular season. They asked about Fox’s broken left index finger. They asked if first-year forward Keegan Murray would be ready to shoot in Game 7.

“And one of the kids was a Warriors fan, so they started ripping him,” Brown said. “And he said, ‘No, I’m not! No I’m not!’ But he was wearing a Golden State Warriors hat.”

More than anything, Brown said, he could sense their excitement — a kind of anticipation for the postseason that Sacramento hadn’t seen in years.

As for the Warriors, their roster seemed to be in constant flux throughout the regular season. Curry injured his shoulder and sprained his ankle. Andrew Wiggins, the starting XI’s small forward, left the team in mid-February for personal reasons and missed the final 25 games of the regular season.

Kerr, meanwhile, struggled to strike a balance between securing a playoff berth (not a sure thing) and developing young players like Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman, which was eventually traded midseason. Ultimately, Kerr continued to lean on the usual suspects — Curry, Thompson and Green, a solid defender — as the postseason grew in focus.

The Warriors welcomed Wiggins’ return early in the playoffs, but then lost their first two games, presenting a new obstacle: Curry, Thompson and Green trailed 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time in their careers. Maybe they needed a new challenge.

On Sunday, Sacramento led 58-56 at halftime as Golden State — a team known for years for eviscerating teams in the third quarter — went about their usual business. Curry pocketed a 3-pointer. He sliced ​​through a mix of defenders to pull in a layup. He deflated a floater.

“You can tell when it’s locked or laser focused,” Green said.

When the team’s starting center Kevon Looney hit an offensive rebound, Golden State led by 9.

The basic mood of the Kings fans in the arena was not necessarily panic, but definitely fear. Curry had been in a situation like this so many times before, and none of it – not the hostile environment, not the pressure of Game 7 – seemed to bother him. In fact, he fed on it.

“This is one of the best players in the history of the game,” Kerr said, adding, “The resilience and the work that went into it, the focus, it’s incredible to see.

As Golden State’s lead swelled in the fourth quarter, the crowd’s fear turned to resignation.

Looney capped a terrific streak with a double-double, 11 points and 21 rebounds.

“The guy is an absolute winner and a machine,” Kerr said.

However, the stage belonged to Curry, which was no surprise. Another one is waiting against the Lakers. After Sunday’s game, Curry was asked if anyone could stop him.

“Hopefully we never find out,” he said.

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