NBA playoffs: Stephen Curry leads Warriors to Western Conference semifinals with historic performance in win over Kings

It was win or go home on Sunday in Sacramento and Stephen Curry decided the Golden State Warriors' season wasn’t ending yet. Curry made basketball magic with a historic performance in the Warriors' 120-100 win to propel them into a second-round matchup with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Curry scored a playoff career-high 50 points as he broke the NBA's Game 7 scoring record of 48 set by Kevin Durant in 2021.

Curry was 20 of 38 from the field and 7 of 18 from the 3-point line. The reigning Finals MVP's otherworldly performance not only broke an NBA Game 7 record, but also made him the first Warrior to score more than 40 in a Game 7.

Warriors big man Kevon Looney also played huge role in the victory with 21 rebounds, 11 points and 4 assists.

Warriors' slow team start, Curry domination

After Draymond Green opened the scoring with a quick dunk, the first half was a back-and-forth battle.

The Kings led 31-30 at the end of the first quarter and kept that lead through most of the second quarter as Curry surprisingly missed his first two free throws of the game. He mockingly celebrated with his arms in the air after he made his third free-throw attempt after an and-one.

Curry finished the first half with 20 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, while Domantas Sabonis had 18 points for the Kings.

While Curry was getting his points in the first half, Klay Thompson wasn't. He had just seven in the first 24 minutes and started the game 1 of 10 from the field while missing his first four 3-point attempts. Thompson ended the game with 16 points.

The Warriors trailed 58-56 at halftime and took over the game in the second half. The Warriors opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run over the first four minutes of the second half. Just look at how Curry was able to get to the basket and past Terence Davis for the and-one and a five-point Warriors lead in the third quarter.

The Warriors started to pull away from the Kings at the end of the third quarter as Thompson converted a massive four-point play right before the buzzer. His 3-pointer and free throw pushed Golden State's lead from six to 10 and gave the Warriors a 91-81 lead they'd never relinquish over the fourth quarter thanks to Curry's greatness.

Curry only got hotter in the fourth quarter as the Kings couldn't slow him down. The Warriors opened the final period on a 9-2 run that pushed the lead to 17 points and made the Kings' elimination inevitable. Once the lead got to over 20 at 104-83 midway through the fourth quarter, it was impossible not to start thinking ahead to a series between the Lakers and Warriors.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 30: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates during the third quarter in game seven of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on April 30, 2023 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors showed out in Game 7 against the Kings. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Kings' De'Aaron Fox finished with 16 points, while Sabonis scored just four in the second half to finish with 22. The Game 7 win means the Warriors are now 19-0 in playoff series against Western Conference opponents under coach Steve Kerr.

"They're a tough team to play, they play a different type of basketball. We match up well, we just didn't have enough to get it done," Sabonis said after the loss.

The Kings had a storybook season as they broke a 16-season playoff drought. Sacramento took the NBA by storm over the 2022-23 season with its fantastic offense and the lighting of the beam after every win. Curry made sure to remind Sacramento of its victory celebration as the Warriors closed out the win.

After the Kings' Game 4 win over the Warriors drove over 10 million viewers a week ago, it's likely that Sunday's game will eclipse that viewership mark. And ratings are undoubtedly going to be monstrous for Golden State's next series with the Lakers as Curry and James will make for must-see TV in their fifth-ever playoff series.