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Kings stay alive with convincing win over Warriors

Los Angeles (AFP) – The Sacramento Kings bounced back from three straight defeats with an impressive 118-99 victory over the NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Friday to force a decisive game seven in their first-round playoff series.

Facing elimination, the inexperienced Kings were undaunted at Chase Center in San Francisco — where the Warriors were 33-8 in the regular season.

They seized a quick 8-0 lead to set an early tone and after a string of lead changes pushed the advantage to double digits in the second quarter.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the star-studded Warriors couldn’t get the deficit below five points the rest of the way as the Kings knotted the best-of-seven series at 3-3.

Malik Monk scored 28 off the bench and point guard De’Aaron Fox added 26 for the Kings, who are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and have a chance to take the series in front of their home fans on Sunday.

Fox said the young team arrived in San Francisco confident they could extend the series, even after watching their 2-0 lead evaporate.

“We wanted to hit first, hit second, and hit last, and I think we did a good job of that tonight,” said Fox, who again excelled despite playing with a broken left index finger.

Rookie Keegan Murray scored 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Sacramento. Kevin Huerter and Trey Lyles added 12 apiece as the Kings withstood every Warriors attempt to rally.

Center Domantas Sabonis finished with seven points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with five minutes remaining — sporting a black eye from taking an elbow on a jump ball in the second period.

Curry led the Warriors with 29 points and five assists, and Thompson added 22, but they got little support.

Andrew Wiggins chipped in 13 for Golden State, but Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole had just seven apiece and the Kings’ bench outscored Golden State’s reserves 52-21.

“I thought the Kings were the aggressor from the start, putting a lot of pressure on us defensively,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We just never got into our game, but I give Sacramento credit for that.

“They came out with more force and more energy. The right team won tonight, that’s for sure. Now we’ve got to regroup and get ready for game seven.”

The winner of the series will face either the Memphis Grizzlies or Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semi-finals.

LeBron James and the Lakers are trying to finish off the Grizzlies in Los Angeles, where the hosts took a 3-2 lead into game six of their series.

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