May 30, 2024
“We’ve all been watching this team for a long time,” De'Aaron Fox said. “If it is the end, then it is what it is. I’m glad we were able to beat this team in this moment.” 

SACRAMENTO – Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown wasn’t in a sentimental mood after his team routed Golden State 118-94 in a do-or-die play-in game on Tuesday night. 

Sure, he spent six years as an assistant from 2016 to 2022 under Steve Kerr and helped the Warriors win three titles. 

And yes, his former team faces a franchise-defining offseason as the dynastic trio of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson is in jeopardy of dissolving once Thompson reaches free agency.

And of course those familiar players, who already looked awfully old and slow in the blowout, will only get older and slower as they approach the back half of their 30s. Even if they do come back, making the playoffs wouldn’t be easy. 

So what did Brown think of his team possibly dealing the lethal blow to what was left of the famed “Death Lineup” he once coached?

He had more important things to worry about.

“The reality of it is, is that it’s not my problem, and it’s not my concern,” Brown said, more focused on planning for the Pelicans and the Kings’ second play-in game on Friday. “We’re getting ready for New Orleans.”

He added that he thinks that the trio is still capable of playing great basketball: “Those three guys in my opinion are special, and I was a part of many championships and good memories with them. Whatever they decide to do at the end of the day, that’s what they decide to do.”

If the Kings players relished in vanquishing the team that took them out in seven games in the first round last season, they didn’t show it. Keegan Murray scored a game-high 32 and hit a Splash Bros.-esque eight 3-pointers. 

He said that the win wouldn’t take away the sting of last year’s gutting Game 7 defeat at home, but admitted that getting revenge didn’t hurt either.

“It kind of peels the band-aid off a little bit,” Murray said. “They got us last year, and we got them this year under a different circumstance.”

Brown, Murray and guard De’Aaron Fox all credited the team’s dedication to physicality as a key to their success on Tuesday. 

One player they raved about was defensive savant Keon Ellis, who went from a fringe rotation player on a two-way contract to the defender who helped hold Thompson to zero points in what could be his Warriors finale. 

Brown couldn’t help but compare the stellar stopper to Golden State’s own Draymond Green, a scrappy but unheralded defender who carved out an incredible career on high-flying offenses.  

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His dogged defense helped Fox, Murray and Domantas Sabonis fly up and down the floor in a style reminiscent of Golden State during their first title run in 2015. 

Back then, De’Aaron Fox was just a high schooler. He marveled at their sustained success, remarking that the Warriors also won the title in his first year in the league, and then in his fifth season. 

The All-Star guard called the Warriors “great for the basketball world,” and took an appreciative tone when asked about his thoughts on possibly ending the era-defining dynasty. 

“We’ve all been watching this team for a long time,” Fox said. “If it is the end, then it is what it is. I’m glad we were able to beat this team in this moment.” 

“They definitely had a hell of a run if this is the end.”