Fox quickly creates his own mythology while Curry quickly adds to his
SACRAMENTO — People frequently compare back-and-forth sporting contests to heavyweight boxing battles, when each behemoth alternately knocks the other down before the foe responds with their own round of damage. Even so, it doesn’t really describe how stressful and draining Game 4 of the Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings was on Sunday.
After the game, Kings coach Mike Brown remarked, “What a game. What a game to watch, if I were a fan.
The pirate ship ride at every theme park or regional fair is probably the closest analog. After you fasten your seatbelt, the ship begins to shake slowly in both directions as momentum builds, much to how Game 4’s first half had 14 lead changes and six ties. Then things start to pick up, the wooden ship swinging so high to one side that you are forced to urgently clutch to the crossbar with your white-knuckled, sweating hands out of fear of falling out of your seat. Like when the Warriors exploded for a 10-point lead in the third quarter, capping it with a beautiful corner 3-pointer from Klay Thompson.
However, you realize that things must finally give in to gravity and swing the opposite way once you hit the apex on one side. The Kings quickly retook the lead early in the fourth quarter with a 15-4 run that lasted less than three minutes. The events that followed are only comparable to the pirate ship entirely losing control and careening down the street while its passengers and bystanders shrieked in a mixture of dread and delight.
Steve Kerr’s perhaps worst coach challenge in NBA history denied the Warriors any timeouts in the game’s closing two minutes. These mistakes frequently hit you in the rear, and with 42 seconds left Steph Curry—who has a basketball IQ on par with a genius—had a brief moment of poor judgment. He joined Chris Webber in doing so and received a technical foul for calling a timeout that his team didn’t have.
The technical foul not only resulted in a free throw for Sacramento but also in a possession during which De’Aaron Fox made a pull-up 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to one point. With 10 seconds left, the Kings received the ball back after Curry missed his jumper on the opposite end, but Golden State managed to escape with an ugly but joyful victory thanks to Harrison Barnes’ final 3-point attempt that caromed off the rim.
All that counts is that they survived their escape from the pirate ship.
Warriors player Draymond Green remarked after the victory, “If this were a regular season game, you probably walk off and you’re a little upset and you’re like, man, should have never been this hard.” But it isn’t. Every game matters in the playoffs. You accept the victory and move on whether we manage to win it straight away and control the outcome or whether we have to struggle to win it, as we did tonight.
The game, and the series, went from excellent to epic thanks to Curry and Fox, who displayed their numerous otherworldly abilities in a fourth-quarter duel. The instant classic featured fantastic and timely performances up and down both squad, but the major characters—the stars that lifted the game, and the series, from great to epic—were Curry and Fox.
With nine minutes remaining in the game, the Kings quickly overcame a 10-point deficit to take a one-point lead. Curry then got to work, scoring seven of the Warriors’ next eight points to give them some breathing room. His first field goal was a straight-line drive layup that exuded alpha intensity and gave the Warriors an advantage they would never lose. His first shot was the epitome of tenacity.
Then, with the Chase Center in a frenzy, he made a devastating off-rhythm, head-fake jumper with his toe on the 3-point line, regaining momentum and prompting Sacramento to call timeout in an unsuccessful effort to calm things down.
MAMA, THERE GOES THAT MAN
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 23, 2023
Then, with 7:25 remaining, he snatched a low pass from Green off of his ankles and made a 29-foot 3-pointer in one motion to increase the advantage.
Warriors center Kevon Looney described his longtime teammate and point guard Stephen Curry as having “ultimate command of our team and of the floor.” He therefore opted to collect some buckets and get us back to where we needed to be at when we were struggling and they were gaining momentum. He is what he is as a result.
That would be the end of the story against many teams. However, Sacramento has its own lanky hero who also happens to be the first-ever Clutch Player of the Year in the NBA. Fox scored seven points in a row beginning at the six-minute mark with a mix of free throws, pull-up jumpers, and floaters. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone, capping it with a late 3-pointer that put Warriors supporters’ cardiovascular systems to the test.
After Game 4, Keegan Murray, a rookie with the Kings, said of Fox, “I think he just kind of turned up a notch from the regular season to now.” Just goes to illustrate how talented he is in this league. He created sturdy baskets and kept us engaged.
It was only right that the game’s decisive play pitted the two stars against each other. Fox successfully intercepted the ball in the backcourt and, with the help of Barnes’ screen, actively pursued Curry. Fox tried to cross over, but Curry stopped him, forcing him to go in a different route with Green’s assistance. Due to the double-team, Fox was forced to make the correct move and passed the ball to Barnes, whose error negated what could have been an amazing game-winning play and inspirational tale against his former team.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 23, 2023
Fox can make shots, as we all know, stated Green following the game. He was named the year’s top clutch player. Giving him an ISO with anyone and then letting him work is something I do not do. That is not something we will tolerate. We are aware of that. You must force someone else to defeat you.
The Warriors would rather take a chance on an open shot from an 11-year veteran who has a lifetime 3-point percentage of 37 than watch Fox attempt a contested jump shot to win the game. Fox has demonstrated in his first playoff game that he is deserving of inclusion in the hall of fame among today’s greatest athletes, removing any doubt that existed following his outstanding, likely All-NBA regular season.
The focus of Game 4 was much more than just the two great guards, but Fox finished with 38 points and nine rebounds, while Curry finished with 32 points on 5-for-11 shooting from beyond the arc. It’s tantalizing to imagine what they will have in store for us in Game 5 of what has become into one of the more entertaining NBA playoff series in recent memory as each player learns what the defense is offering them throughout the course of the series.
The best aspect is that Fox and Curry are both such dynamic scorers that they can each score at any time without giving any prior notice.
I’m constantly searching for my shot since there will almost always be a double-team, a trap, or a lot of attention. Therefore, me not shooting doesn’t imply I’m being uncooperative, Curry stated following the victory in Game 4. “It just means you’re reading the defense to make the right moves, move the ball, enjoy the double teams or attention, and find open looks for other guys.
But the tougher it is to fight against and the more probable it is that I’ll discover some vulnerabilities the more you do that over the course of 48. Additionally, you must always be prepared and sure that you can block their shots.