Fox, Mitchell come up big as Kings take 2-0 series lead over Warriors

Apr 18, 2023, 1:38 AM | Updated: 10:12 am

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: Davion Mitchell #15 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after he made...

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

For the second time in as many games, the Sacramento Kings didn’t look like themselves on the offensive end.

That didn’t matter during Game 1 on Saturday night. It didn’t cost the Kings in Monday’s Game 2, either.

Sacramento won 48 games this season primarily because of its historic offense, a well-oiled machine driven by De’Aaron Fox’s explosiveness and Domantas Sabonis’ ability to distribute the basketball at an elite rate out of the center position.

The NBA Playoffs are a different beast. The Golden State Warriors have forced the Kings to change its plan of attack in two-straight games, and Sacramento has answered the bell each time.

Monday’s Game 2 showdown at Golden 1 Center came down to timely baskets and defensive effort, as Sacramento pulled out a 114-106 win to take a 2-0 series lead over the defending NBA champions.

For the first time in the Stephen Curry-Draymond Green-Klay Thompson-Steve Kerr era, the Warriors face an 0-2 series deficit as action shifts to the San Francisco Bay.

“What a game,” Kings head coach Mike Brown said of his team’s effort following the win. “The physicality that both teams brought tonight was unbelievable. I thought our guys did a heck of a job tonight.”

Sacramento’s offense was nonexistent during a first quarter that saw the team miss its first 11 three-point attempts. After scoring 17 points on 38 percent shooting from the field, the Kings would need to flip the switch if they wanted to increase the series lead to two.

The second quarter would be the true difference in this game as Sacramento exploded for 41 points on 54 percent shooting from the field and five-of-11 from beyond the three-point line. Malik Monk, who was a massive component of Saturday’s Game 1 win, picked up where he left off by scoring 11 points during the second quarter.

As was the case on Saturday, the Kings took advantage of the Warriors’ minutes that saw Stephen Curry on the bench. With the two-time MVP resting, Sacramento used a 16-4 run to put themselves in front midway through the second period–a lead that they would not give up.

The Kings took advantage of Golden State’s 13 first-half turnovers, outscored the Warriors 41-29 in the second, and took a 58-52 lead into the break.

Once play entered the second half, it was clear that whoever came up with the most defensive stops would win this game. Davion Mitchell was up for the challenge.

Mitchell took on the challenging task of defending Curry for most of the second half on Monday, and “Off-Night” reminded fans of how he got his nickname.

The second-year guard helped hold the NBA’s career leader in made three-point field goals to zero made triples during the second half while the Kings kept the Warriors at arms-length. Mitchell, who went on to receive the Defensive Player of the Game chain, swiped two steals during the win, but the defense was the main story surrounding the Baylor product.

“I think a lot of people look at basketball like it’s all about offense, but it’s not,” Mitchell said postgame. “I know you got to be locked in defensively, especially in times like this.”

With Mitchell bringing it on the defensive end and the rest of the Kings following suit, Sacramento stretched its lead to 14 points during the third quarter as it looked like they would coast to another playoff victory. Instead, Golden State made its run to trim the deficit to single digits as the Kings took an 83-75 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Warriors were battling foul trouble to begin the fourth, as Kevon Looney (five fouls) and Draymond Green (four fouls) opened up the period walking a tightrope on the defensive end.

De’Aaron Fox, who is expected to be named as the NBA’s first-ever Clutch Player of the Year award winner on Tuesday, knew it was his time to go to work in the fourth. Fox attacked the paint as Looney and Green tried to tip-toe around foul trouble, and the All-Star guard finished the period with 11 points to help lead Sacramento’s offensive attack.

After struggling to begin the game from three-point range, Fox even knocked down a big triple late in the fourth that all but put the game away.

Somehow, someway, the Sacramento Kings continue to win games while its offensive continues to struggle.

The Kings finished Monday’s game shooting 45 percent from the field and nine-of-38 (23%) from three-point range. Entering Game 2, Sacramento held a 3-16 record when shooting 45 percent or less from the field this season. When shooting 25 percent or less from three-point range, the Kings were 1-7.

Golden State slowed Sacramento’s high-paced offense down, and it didn’t matter in the end because of the defensive efforts down the stretch. The Warriors went four-of-13 (30%) from three-point range during the fourth quarter, as the league’s top three-point shooting team finished the night 13-of-40 (32%) from deep.

Over 17 games this season that Golden State shot 32 percent or worst from three-point range, the Warriors posted a 4-13 record.

Curry’s three-for-13 (23%) performance from deep didn’t help Golden State’s chances on Monday, while Andrew Wiggins (two-of-eight) and Jordan Poole (0-of-three) also struggled.

Three-point shooting is a large part of this Warriors team’s identity. When the offense struggled to get looks inside the paint, it almost seemed Golden State rushed into three-point attempts instead of finding better, open looks.

The Kings have looked like the better team during the start of this series, and with how much Sacramento has struggled on offense, it’s a massive win for this team to hit the road with a 2-0 advantage.

Of course, these are still the Golden State Warriors. 2-0 lead or not, history or not, this team will not roll over lightly.

According to ESPN Stats, the Warriors are the fifth NBA defending champion to fall behind 2-0 in the first round.  Each of the prior four went on to lose, with three getting swept.

The Kings are in a great spot following their latest win over the Warriors, but the real test will come on Thursday when they travel to Chase Center. For the next two days, though, it will be nice for this team to enjoy its start to its first NBA Playoff appearance in 17 years.

Notes & Takeaways

Another game, another strong performance from De’Aaron Fox.

Fox finished the night with 24 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and four steals over 35 minutes of playing time. The future Clutch Player of the Year award winner scored 11 points in the fourth quarter while continuing to provide the Kings with a heightened level of defensive intensity.

Domantas Sabonis was involved in a controversial play with Draymond Green (see below), but the All-Star center finished the night with 24 points on eight-of-12 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and four assists.

Malik Monk added 18 points off the bench over 31 minutes, while Kevin Huerter (15 points) and Harrison Barnes (13 points) chipped in during the win.

Davion Mitchell‘s defensive contributions were enormous for Sacramento, but the guard also scored 14 points, with a late triple putting the Kings ahead by nine points with just over a minute remaining.

“My teammates had confidence in me,” Mitchell said of his late three-pointer. “I trusted my work, and the shot went in.”

Sabonis, Green interaction creates controversy

It wouldn’t be an NBA Playoff game with the Golden State Warriors without some Draymond Green controversy.

While Green was assessed with a Flagrant Foul penalty two and ejected following a play that resulted in the forward stomping on Domantas Sabonis’ chest, there are some questions about how the play transpired.

It looks as if Sabonis gets ahold of Green’s leg as he goes to the ground with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Green, who is attempting to get free from Sabonis, comes down hard on Sabonis’ chest with a stomp–one that resulted in the forward’s ejection.

“My leg got grabbed. Second time in two nights,” Green said of the incident postgame. “I gotta land my foot somewhere… I can only step so far.”

Sabonis underwent testing after the game, and X-Rays came back clean, but the center will undergo more tests on Tuesday as a precaution. The three-time All-Star spoke to the media following the game and said there was “no place” for Green’s actions in the league.

“I got hit earlier in the game in the jaw, so when I fell, I was protecting myself,” Sabonis said of the play. “There is no room for that in our game today. It’s the playoffs, a lot of things happen. I get pushed, I’m falling on the floor, I’m just trying to protect myself.”

More information on Sabonis’ status is expected to be available on Tuesday, but the center made it clear that he expects to play in Game 3 on Thursday.

“You guys know me. I’ll be ready for Game 3.”

YouTube video

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

NBA Western Conference Playoffs – First Round

  • Thursday, April 20th – Game 3: Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, April 23rd – Game 4: Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 12:30 PM PST
  • Wednesday, April 26th – Game 5**: Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – TBD
  • Friday, April 28th – Game 6**: Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – TBD
  • Sunday, April 30th – Game 7**: Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – TBD

**If necessary

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