A Pivotal Game 7
The teams would trade wins over the next three games, setting up a pivotal Game 7 back in Minnesota. It just felt like the end. Webber was noticeably slower after surgery, Vlade Divac was nearing retirement. Stojakovic had taken a leap forward, but was never going to be the best player on a championship team. If the Kings could get past the Wolves, they’d have a rematch with the Lakers for the right to play for a championship. Anything could happen then.
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The Kings started off Game 7 alarmingly slowly. They scored just 31 total points in the first half on 12 of 36 from the field. Luckily for them, Minnesota only amassed 41 themselves, keeping the game within reach for the second half. Sacramento came roaring back with a 29-point third quarter to pull the game within two points heading in to the final frame.
Still, the Kings found themselves down by five points with 30 seconds to play. After a successful sequence of made shots by Sacramento and missed free throws by Minnesota, the Kings were down by 3 with two seconds left on the clock. After a deflected ball out of bounds, Doug Christie threw a cross-court pass to Webber who was standing on the wing in front of the Kings bench.
Webber caught it, and pump-faked Garnett, who was running right for him. He lined up the wide open shot and let it go. The buzzer sounded as the ball hit the inside of the rim twice before bouncing out.
Webber fell to his knees, the Kings were eliminated, and the championship window was shut.
Yes, the Kings made it back to the playoffs the next two years. After trading Webber at the deadline in 2005, the team was never the same. They lost in five games in the opening series of the playoffs to the Seattle SuperSonics. The next season, Sacramento barely squeaked in to the playoffs as the 8th seed, but put up a legit fight against the San Antonio Spurs. You might remember Kevin Martin‘s layup as the last signature postseason moment for the Kings.
Would the Kings have won the championship in 2004 had they beat the Timberwolves in that Game 7? Probably not. The Pistons were quite a force that season. The Kings might not have even been able to beat the Lakers, though they would have given them a better series than the Wolves did, given that the Kings had the revenge factor in their back pockets.