The Golden State Warriors routed the Sacramento Kings 120-100 on Sunday, keeping their hopes of back-to-back titles alive behind Steph Curry's all-time Game 7 performance. Here are three reactions from the defending champs' season-saving win.

Stephen Curry refuses to lose

This probably isn't the best performance of Curry's legendary career. Considering the championship stakes at play, palpable hostility of the Boston Celtics crowd and the Warriors' crowning ultimate result, Game 4 of last year's Finals will probably always own that distinction.

But Curry's 50-point, eight-rebound, six-assist, one-turnover masterpiece on Sunday stands apart regardless, and not just because he broke former teammate Kevin Durant's record for the most points ever scored in a Game 7. With his team's season firmly on the line and potential end of the dynasty he built on the horizon, Curry simply refused to lose at Golden 1 Center, almost single-handedly willing the Warriors to the Western Conference Semifinals.

The best indication Curry wasn't leaving Sacramento without a win? His 38 field goal attempts, the most shots Curry has launched throughout his 15-year tenure in the NBA.

Even embracing the alpha-dog scoring mentality more readily than ever, though, Curry's influence still rippled across Golden State's offense when he wasn't the one finishing plays.

Golden State initially exploited the Kings' relentless perimeter pressure by “shorting” pick-and-rolls, quickly moving the ball to the strong-side wing to get a better passing angle to the roller. These easy buckets directly result from the singular threat Curry poses to defenses.

Those early scores at least somewhat softened Sacramento's ball-screen coverage, making Domantas Sabonis hesitant to venture so far beyond the arc defensively.

Curry and the Warriors had immediate answers that subtle adjustment, too.

Steve Kerr and the coaching staff deserve immense credit for getting Curry started off on the right foot and opening up the Dubs' halfcourt offense. This game could've unfolded far differently had Golden State been stuck in the mud offensively like it was Friday night at Chase Center.

But the biggest reason it didn't is because Curry so often simply took matters into his own hands against overmatched defenders—whether they were his primary assignment like poor Terence Davis or mercilessly hunted down via switches.

Curry doesn't get more aggressive off the dribble than he was on Sunday. He shot 8-of-11 from the restricted area, blowing past the first line of defense before finishing with slick Euro-steps or high-arching finger rolls, often through and around contact.


The tireless nature of Curry's effort is best exemplified by this wild possession from the third quarter.

He doesn't just take three shots during this sequence, but provides the initial drive that leads to Kevon Looney's offensive rebound then skies for one of his own after Andrew Wiggins' soaring missed tip dunk. How does Steph possibly have the stamina, let alone the touch and balance, to connect on his ensuing 10-foot finger roll over Sabonis?

What Curry did in Game 7 should terrify the rest of the league.

The Los Angeles Lakers will be a tougher challenge for he and the Warriors defensively, their collective size and rim-protection looming larger than ever with Anthony Davis playing at his peak on that side of the ball. But there may not be a workable answer for Curry when he decides to put Golden State on his back, hoisting shots from all over the floor, pretty much whenever and however he wants like an efficient Allen Iverson.

Even Curry doesn't have the fitness level to sustain that identity over a seven-game series. He's plenty impactful on basketball's biggest stages just being himself, though, and proved once again on Sunday he can morph into that ball-dominant superhero whenever the Warriors need.

Suddenly, Golden State's dreams of another title have been revived—just like Curry's case as the best player in the world at 35 years old.

Kevon Looney owns the glass, saves the Warriors' season

Game 7 turned for good in the third quarter, Curry's onslaught continuing with even more force and Klay Thompson finally finding the range. The Kings' 7-of-21 shooting had a major hand in Golden State turning a two-point halftime deficit into a 10-point lead entering the final stanza, too.

But other than Curry's historic brilliance, nothing changed the tenor of Sunday's contest more than Looney absolutely owning the offensive glass in the third quarter, a showing of individual dominance that clearly inspired his teammates.

The Dubs had just two offensive rebounds at intermission. They managed to grab 13 more of their misses by the time third quarter buzzer sounded, Looney collecting eight of those caroms all by himself.

He finished with 10 offensive rebounds altogether en route to 21 total boards, thoroughly out-muscling Sabonis down low and using his stick-em hands to come down with the rock in heavy traffic and outside his area. There were multiple instances Looney came away with two rebounds on Golden State's same trip down the floor.

Looney was the the Warriors' second-best player in Game 7, and it's not particularly close. No matter what happens against Davis and the Lakers and beyond, his epic work on the boards in the first round will be the stuff of Golden State lore.

Who will step up from Golden State's bench?

The Western Conference Semifinals might as well mark a new season for the Dubs. Nothing that transpired in Golden State's seven-game war with Sacramento is a surefire indicator of what's to come versus Los Angeles. Good thing, too, because Kerr and his staff leave the first round with as little clarity as ever on which bench players could be reliable contributors going forward.

The Warriors played a nine-man rotation in Game 7, scaling back further after intermission by keeping Donte DiVincenzo on the bench until garbage time.

Moses Moody was solid on both ends once again, no doubt in line for a significant role in the second round. Gary Payton II struggled offensively and wasn't immune from defensive breakdowns, but was hyper-disruptive with four blocks. DiVincenzo was pretty invisible unless he was getting back-doored for layups. Most disappointing, Jordan Poole remained wild and frantic with the ball barring perfectly clean looks from the perimeter.

Kerr won't be afraid to push different lineup and rotational buttons against Los Angeles.

Darvin Ham's team is huge, perhaps clearing a path for Jonathan Kuminga or JaMychal Green to be dusted off in the second round. LeBron James, impactful as he was against the Memphis Grizzlies, mostly looked like a shell of his typical playoff self at 38 years old. Maybe the Dubs can lean harder into offense-first lineups if that trend continues, daring Los Angeles to beat them from deep.

Either way, the Warriors reserves must make their presence felt on a consistent basis for Golden State in the Conference Semifinals. This team's veteran stalwarts were nearly shoved past their limits against the Kings. Being relegated to pushing them even harder absent a reliable bench could doom the Dubs against James, Davis and a rebuilt Lakers squad that's never been more cohesive.