By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite a solid team display and help from the Golden 1 Center crowd, the Sacramento Kings were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals best-of-seven series.
Domantas Sabonis registered a team-high 22 points to go with eight rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks wrapping up a brilliant 2022-23 campaign.
“I am proud of this team, every one of us, coaching staff, organization, for what we did,” reacted the Lithuanian big following season-ending Game 7, “Obviously, it stings today. Because we did put ourselves in a position where we could have kept moving forward in the Playoffs. We just got to use this as motivation to keep building.”
Triumphing in the latest edition of NBA Sunday, the defending champions clinched a berth to the next round and matched up with Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James. The Kings instead fell narrowly short in their first postseason appearance since 2006.
Stephen Curry is ‘one of the best,’
“I feel like we fought all game. But they came out in the third quarter just more aggressive. They were shooting threes. Long rebounds. They were grabbing all those 50-50 balls. That gave them a ton more possessions,” Sabonis commented on facing the Warriors, “A team like that, that’s tough.”
Stephen Curry scoring 50 points in Game 7 surely left his mark on the series. “He’s one of the best,” stressed Sabonis, “To come out here, in Game 7, and do that. We just had to go out there and do our best, slow him down, and put ourselves in a position to win.”
“I am proud of these guys,” he added on his own team’s approach to the demanding challenge, “We all came out locked in, with our heads straight. We took them to Game 7. Obviously, it’s not the outcome we wanted. But just to stay focused that way. They are a tough team to play, they play a different type of basketball. We matched up well, but we just didn’t have enough to get it done.”
“This is just the first step”
The Kings finished the Regular Season with a 48-34 record and third in the Western Conference table. “We just had a lot of fun the whole year. The city, the fans, everyone in the arena, and especially at home,” summed up the Lithuanian forward/center, “We definitely had a chance here to do something special.”
“This is just the first step moving forward. There is a lot more to come,” Sabonis turned his focus on the 2023-24 season, in coincidence being the last on his current contract, “We got to use that as motivation, especially whatever the feeling right now, in the summer to get better. And really come out the next season strong.”
Sabonis, 26, tallied 18.9 points, 12.1 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.5 blocks per contest over 85 appearances between the Regular Season and the Playoffs in his first full campaign in Sacramento.
Photo Credit: Getty Images