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Kings 105, Thunder 98: Return of the Kings

The Kings finally looked like their old selves, even without De'Aaron Fox.
By | 45 Comments | Nov 10, 2023

Nov 10, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter (9) shoots the ball over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings had a return to form on Friday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Facing a tough Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento looked like last season’s team again. The Kings dispatched the Thunder 105-98, and despite several runs by the Thunder to try to close the gap, Sacramento felt like they were firmly in the driver’s seat throughout.

The biggest relief for Kings fans was seeing both Keegan Murray and Kevin Huerter break out of their early-season slumps. Keegan Murray was everywhere in this game. He finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist and 1 block. Keegan went 3-for-10 from beyond the arc, and was just 8-for-17 overall due to some early shooting woes, but he shot through the struggles and came up huge for the Kings down the stretch.

Similarly, Kevin Huerter had a huge get-right game, finishing with a team-high 28 points to go along with 9 rebounds , 3 steals, 2 assists, and 1 block. Huerter was active on defense and the boards, and finally saw his shots falling as he went a regular and respectable 4-for-10 from deep.

Domantas Sabonis dominated Chet Holmgren throughout the game, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists, and 2 blocks. The Thunder were throwing double and triple teams at Sabonis trying to slow him down.

Keon Ellis also warrants mention. While his stat line doesn’t jump off the page with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks, he handled the point guard role well throughout the game and gave the Thunder fits. OKC was regularly seeking switches to get Ellis away from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Shai still finished with 33 points, but Ellis did as good as anyone could hope for when slowing down the Thunder star.

While several players warrant special mention, this really was a fantastic team effort. The ball movement, defensive effort, and energy levels were fantastic throughout the night.

This game also puts the Kings record in the In-Season Tournament at 1-0. I still don’t fully understand the full details of the Tournament, but presumably winning your group games is better than losing them. But the Kings already won the tournament by having one of the least-bad alternate courts for these games. The gray and blue was fine, and “fine” is a huge improvement over most of these courts.

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RekeHavok
November 10, 2023 10:01 pm

LIGHT THE BEAM! Kings played a great game. I think having Fox out for the last 5 games has been beneficial for the team as a whole, even if it cost us a few losses. During the two Rockets games it was evident how bad we played without Fox. The Kings had to learn how to be less reliant on Fox and more self reliant, and we did that today.

bjax1
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November 10, 2023 10:03 pm
Reply to  RekeHavok

100%. Couldn’t agree more That said, get well Fox (and Lyles). Go Kings LTB!

cloudyeyes
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November 10, 2023 11:59 pm
Reply to  RekeHavok

Yep, those losses to the Rockets were the kick in the A the team needed. Great team effort all around. Saw way too much reliance on Fox to carry games early in the season and everyone else couldn’t find their groove. Putting all of them in the spotlight without Fox put a light on all of their mistakes to correct.

mdeedublu
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November 11, 2023 7:02 am
Reply to  cloudyeyes

This is exactly what I was thinking about last night too. If the rest of the team is going to play this well and Fox comes back playing as well as he was, this team should be fine going forward.

Yakshi
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Nostradumbass 21
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November 10, 2023 10:08 pm

Despite all the misses threes, the offensive looked much smoother than in games past. But the most noticeable thing to me was a big step up in team defense. Ellis impressed. Huerter was great on the boards. And the effort seemed contagious. That game was a joy to watch.

Ellis5
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November 10, 2023 10:40 pm
Reply to  Yakshi

What? Oh I understand now.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ellis5
cloudyeyes
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November 11, 2023 12:04 am
Reply to  Yakshi

SGA would have gone off for 50 tonight if it weren’t for Ellis. There is definitely an argument for Ellis as the backup PG – then again, let’s see how he does in the next few games.

9sac8
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November 12, 2023 5:53 am
Reply to  cloudyeyes

No argument here. Ellis IS the back-up PG going forward. Davion looks a lot better in spot mins. He’s playing more freely. That pressure has been lifted. Ellis applies pressure.

LALakerHater
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November 10, 2023 10:11 pm

Me trying to remember who the red headed guy is that played so well tonight…

GIF by Coming to America - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ellis5
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November 10, 2023 10:20 pm
Reply to  LALakerHater

It’s lion fur

Last edited 7 months ago by Ellis5
Ellis5
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November 10, 2023 10:30 pm
Reply to  Ellis5

Darth Vader is a Kings fan. It’s well documented.

Jman1949
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November 10, 2023 10:11 pm

Keon Ellis = DPOG

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UpgradedToQuestionable
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November 10, 2023 10:12 pm

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Defense! Effort! Energy!
overcame poor shooting, poor playmaking (except Domas) and turnovers.

The purple beamed well on that royal blue court

Jman1949
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November 10, 2023 10:17 pm

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RikSmits
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November 11, 2023 12:05 am
Reply to  Jman1949

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Ellis5
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November 10, 2023 10:14 pm

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Ellis5
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November 10, 2023 10:57 pm

The Thunder were clearly frustrated like so many Herald commenters… good luck next time?

RikSmits
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November 10, 2023 11:20 pm

Another triple double for Domas. And although he’s not a rim-protecting shotblocker, his help defense is so important.

Keegan keeps making strides defensively, great to see.

Keon looked good. He needs another ballhandler with him on the court, though.

RikSmits
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November 11, 2023 12:38 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Forgot to mention Len. Such a good pro and solid backup, always ready to play. Maybe he won’t win you many games, but he’s sure as hell won’t lose you games either.

RikSmits
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November 11, 2023 2:28 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Sabonis help D.
Davion doesn’t navigate the screen that well and Sabonis helps guide his man to the baseline for a tough, contested shot, while taking away the lob or shuffle pass to Holmgren. But because of his help and contest, Holmgren is free to grab the offensive board.

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Reminds me of last year’s play-offs.

Last edited 7 months ago by RikSmits
MichaelMack
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November 11, 2023 8:59 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Excellent point Rik. I think Sabonis is a very solid defender, but the guards/wings on this team are just not good staying in front of their man.

I think Keegan has some potential to be a help in this situation, he has some instinct for contesting shots, and is becoming a much better rebounder. I think this is HB’s weakest aspect, he is not good at weak side help, and despite his build and smarts, an awful defensive rebounder.

Last edited 7 months ago by MichaelMack
Jack
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November 11, 2023 9:14 am
Reply to  MichaelMack

And he doesn’t except for first game score enough to warrant a starting spot. We need a PF who plays defense, rebounds and protects the rim especially the weak side rim. He needs to average around say 8 to 12 points a game but is used mainly as a defensive player.

BuffaloDiaspora
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November 11, 2023 12:21 am

Keon > Davion

I may have had a lot to drink tonight – actually, no, I definitely did – but Davion minutes were scary and Keon minutes went smooth. I’m not sure what has happened with Davion but he needs to get his shit sorted out or be traded.

As for the rest of the team, they mostly rocked. Sasha is instant offense, Domas put the dad energy on Chet, Malik does Malik things, Huerter got it together, Keegan is a multidimensional player, I like it

DNP-CD
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November 11, 2023 6:12 am

Got to admit, I didn’t see this win coming. All around great effort. Now if someone could just wake up HB.

Hobby916
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November 11, 2023 6:34 am

Really like what I am seeing with Keon Ellis. A taller version of Davion. Hope he stays in the rotation once fox comes back.

Duarte hasn’t had much of an impact, and Jones needs some time before contributing regularly

MichaelMack
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November 11, 2023 8:53 am
Reply to  Hobby916

I am wondering how much more time Duarte is going to get.

I would prefer to see Kessler getting some more minutes. His size and athleticism seem to have more value than Duarte’s adequacy.

Hobby916
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November 11, 2023 9:22 am
Reply to  MichaelMack

Duarte fouls so damn much, and he seems to shoot a ton out there. Kessler just plays defense and rebounds, stays within his own offensively.

AriAvery
November 11, 2023 6:43 am

The game really flowed like the Kings of last year. Playing off of Sabonis. Rolling to the basket. Moving around, setting screens.

We kept a team below 100, which is a new thing I hope to see more of, because even if we’re not lights out, we’re not letting the other team score on us either. Let’s go Kings, keep it rolling!

TheGrantNapear
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November 11, 2023 7:25 am

The lit up beam on the bottom of the screen is sick! Well done TKH.

I don’t know if the sort feature for newest or oldest comment order was there before, but another nice touch. I prefer newest comments on top the way the SB Nation comment threads are. Nice that commenters can pick and choose.

Last edited 7 months ago by TheGrantNapear
Adamsite
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November 11, 2023 7:46 am

Welcome to the rotation Keon Ellis. Once Fox returns I’m not sure there will be minutes for Mitchell, Duarte and Jones.

Also, Alex Len once again does what is required of him.

MichaelMack
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November 11, 2023 8:55 am
Reply to  Adamsite

That great block on Chet, several back taps on the offense glass to keep a possession alive. He made a genuine contribution again. His hands remind me a bit of Mikki Moore, but I am very glad he is on this team.

Jack
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November 11, 2023 9:20 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I agree that’s why I would really think about trading Mitchell and Duarte for a young defensive PF I would keep Jones if possible.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 11, 2023 7:46 pm
Reply to  Jack

ATL didn’t offer a rookie extension to Saddiq Bey and now he’s set to hit RFA next summer. Since they “own” the Kings protected picks for the next 3 years (if they don’t convey this year), I’ve been floating the idea of Duarte and the removal of the pick protections this year for Bey.

The rational is basically giving this year’s pick away, with no restrictions (it’s currently lottery protected), but the Kings get Bey and his rights plus the removal of the current protections on possible future picks. This gets the Kings a young 3/4 wing and the use of their picks sooner rather than later. Keep in mind, the Kings can’t currently trade a future first until 2028. This trade would free up picks beginning in 2026.

Jack
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November 12, 2023 7:00 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Maybe throw in a second to sweeten the pot. I like this idea.

BeTheBall
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November 11, 2023 10:44 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I would love to see Keon get some 2nd unit run. I’ve loved it when we first signed him for what he might be able to become, and it’s been great to see him refine his game and become what is now an NBA contributor.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing Jones taking the #1 spot on the list of Mitchell, Duarte, Jones, when Brown is deciding on which one to sub in. You can see a wild amount of potential in his game, too. Whereas, the other two appear to be what they are: fringe rotation at best.

vestxpress
November 11, 2023 7:47 am

Great team win tonight!!!
I do have to disagree on the court however. Reminds me of watching the Kings on channel 31 in my bedroom as a kid on my black and white television.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 11, 2023 7:59 am
Reply to  vestxpress

Some of those courts are downright dreadful. The color schemes are not only hard on the eyes but make it hard to follow the flow of the game. The red and blue court of the rockets is just dreadful. You can’t follow the the flow of the basketball. It would be like trying to follow the puck in hockey on a dark blue colored ice.

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Last edited 7 months ago by Adamsite
UpgradedToQuestionable
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November 11, 2023 8:54 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Next season – Camo Courts! With Camo City jerseys!

Last edited 7 months ago by UpgradedToQuestionable
Jack
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November 11, 2023 9:21 am

lol.

Hobby916
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November 11, 2023 9:23 am
Reply to  Adamsite

The red courts are too much. Can’t follow the action when watching on TV.

Ifeanyi
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November 11, 2023 10:34 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Chicago hasn’t definitely won “worst court” imo. Indiana’s might be 2nd

TheGrantNapear
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November 11, 2023 10:00 am
Reply to  vestxpress

The courts are ugly and make the games unwatchable. NBA is getting goofy with all the gimmicks.

Adamsite
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November 11, 2023 7:35 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I hope they go the way of the sleeved jerseys.

ajonez81
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November 11, 2023 11:07 am

Big Win! Keep the momentum rolling Kings!

krswin
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November 11, 2023 11:41 am

Great game Kings.
I wish they would have kept Kenny Thomas for post game shows. He was entertaining.

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