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.