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De'Aaron Fox leads Kings past Warriors 126-123 in playoff return

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SACRAMENTO,Calif. (AP) — De’Aaron Fox scored 38 points in his long-awaitedplayoff debut and the Sacramento Kings celebrated their return tothe postseason after a record 16-year drought by beating thedefending-champion Golden State Warriors 126-123 on Saturdaynight.

The firstplayoff meeting between the Northern California neighbors lived upto the hype and delighted the raucous crowd that had been waitingfor a playoff game since 2006.

Theinexperienced Kings closed the game strong against a Warriors teamthat won four titles in the previous eight seasons.

After StephenCurry hit a corner 3-pointer to give Golden State a 114-112 leadwith about four minutes left, the Kings responded with seven in arow starting with a 3-pointer from Fox, who led the league inclutch points in the regular season.

The Warriorsdidn’t go away and cut the deficit to one on a layup by Curry inthe final minute. But Andrew Wiggins missed a corner 3 for the leadin the closing seconds of his first game in more than twomonths.

Malik Monkmade two free throws to make it 126-123 with 2.9 seconds left.Curry missed a runner from 3 at the buzzer, giving the Kings theirfirst playoff win since April 30, 2006, against San Antonio.

Monk finishedwith 32 points off the bench and Domantas Sabonis had 12 points and16 rebounds.

Curry led theWarriors with 30 points, Klay Thompson added 21 and Wiggins andPoole scored 18 apiece.

It was afestive environment in success-starved Sacramento where fansgathered outside the arena hours before the start of the Kingsfirst playoff game following anNBArecord 16-year drought.

The arena wasdeafening starting in pregame warmups with some fans even bringingback the cow bells that were so common during their playoff runstwo decades ago.

Theexcitement appeared to take a toll on the inexperienced Kings, whostruggled shooting the ball early. Sacramento missed its firstseven 3-pointers, shot just 39.2% in the first half and trailedGolden State 61-55 at the half.

The Warriorsbuilt the lead to 10 points in the third quarter before Sacramentoended the quarter on a 15-4 run fueled by 10 points from Trey Lylesto take a 91-90 lead into the fourth.

WIGGINS’RETURN

Warriorsforward Andrew Wiggins showed few signs of rushinhis first gamein more than two months after leaving theteam to deal with an undisclosed family matter.

Wiggins cameoff the bench after starting his first 657 games in the NBA andmade an immediate impact. He had his first shot attempt blocked buthustled back for a block of his own on the defensive end.

The onlything missing from his game was the outside shot as he was 1 for 8from 3.

TIP-INS

Warriors:Golden State opened a series on the road for the fourth time in 25playoff series under Steve Kerr. The Warriors won Game 1 and theseries in the 2018 Western Conference Finals against Houston andthe second round against Memphis last season. Golden State lost theopener of the 2019 Finals and the series to Toronto.

Kings: Monk’s15 points in the second quarter were the most for a Sacramentoreserve in one quarter of a playoff game since at least 1997. ...Sacramento starters missed their first 15 attempts from 3-pointrange before Fox hit one late in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Game 2 isMonday night in Sacramento. The Warriors haven’t fallen behind 2-0in a playoff series since the second round of the 2007 playoffsagainst Utah.

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