The Kings continued their long road trip by making their way over to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers for the second time this season. In their first contest back in early November, the Kings beat the Cavaliers for one of their most impressive wins so far this season. Both teams' star guards sat this one out, so no foxes or spiders were present for this contest. Without De'Aaron Fox, and away from the cheers and comforts of Golden 1 Center, the Kings needed a collective team performance tonight if they wished to remain undefeated against a very strong Cleveland squad. Let's see how they did:
Outcome: Kings win, 106-95
Sacramento Kings: 106 pts, 53.0% fg, 48.5% 3 pt, 62.5% ft, 21 ast, 39 reb, 19 to
Cleveland Cavaliers: 95 pts, 42.5% fg, 33.3% 3 pt, 77.3% ft, 20 ast, 36 reb, 19 to
It was a rollercoaster, but the Kings eventually had us screaming for joy by the end of it. After a hot start and a commanding 15-point lead, the Kings went cold and let Cleveland close back in on them. After a close and tense battle for the middle meat of the game, the Kings finally turned the jets on in the final five minutes and completed a 19-0 run to win.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Dirty Work: Through the grinding middle stretch of the game, where Cleveland led by as much as eight points, the Kings' offense struggled to find anything easy. This showed in the stat sheet as they were only able to connect on six assists total during the 2nd and 3rd quarters. But what really kept them afloat during this rocky stretch was the dirty work of Domantas Sabonis and Harrison Barnes. Both, but especially Sabonis, were relentless in attacking the congested war zone in the paint. Barnes finished with 20 points, cashing in on 7-10 from the free throw line. The Cavs did all they could to discourage Sabonis from attacking the rim, meeting him with rough physicality at every turn. But nothing could deter this man. He was on a mission. Sabonis reached a double double by the first half, and ultimately finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds after visiting the free throw line 14 times.
- Late Game Defense: The Kings' late game offensive boost was something we had all been waiting for the entire game. We knew they had it in them, they just kept it in the reserves until the final five minutes. But even more impressive than the 19 points they scored in the last minutes was the defense they executed on the other end. Again, Domantas Sabonis and Harrison Barnes came up big in rim protection down the stretch. Barnes showed some veteran discipline after finding himself caught under the basket on Caris LeVert with deep post position - instead of going for the block, Barnes led with his chest and vertically challenged LeVert, forcing him to overthrow the bunny. The next two defensive plays ended in blocks by Sabonis, one which resulted in a layup for Davion Mitchell, and the other a 3-pointer from Kevin Huerter. It was great to see defense be the reason the Kings closed this one out.
- Hail Murray: Did you say all your Hail Murrays yet today? Well, get them in because this kid delivered. Murray had a blazing start, shooting 4-4 from the 3-point line in the first quarter. Unfortunately getting into some early foul trouble, he spent much of the middle two quarters on the bench. But when he finally came back in, he picked up right where he left off. He hit a huge 3-pointer towards the end of the 3rd quarter to cut the Cavs' lead down to four points. And he rounded out his performance in the 4th quarter by hitting his final 3-pointer to give the Kings a six-point lead with 1:22 left to go. Seeing Murray feel comfortable and confident in these big moments is not only reassuring, but exciting and a big reason the Kings won tonight.
- The Kings Guard(s): Much of the Kings' offensive struggles during the game came from a lack of production from their guards. Davion Mitchell, who started in place of De'Aaron Fox, finished with eight points and six assists. Malik Monk, who we've become accustomed to being a leading scorer off the bench, had a rare disjointed night with just nine points and five turnovers. Without consistent production from the Kings' guards, their offense was forced to battle inside, thus slowing the game down. This problem then compounded upon itself because the Kings' guards often thrive in a high-paced setting. The guards struggled to score, so the game slowed down, but because the game slowed down, the guards struggled to score. It wasn't until the last push where we saw the pace pick up, the guards look comfortable, and we got to see the brand of Kings basketball that we all love.
- Free Throws: As a team, the Kings shot 20-32 from the line. Domantas Sabonis struggled the most, missing six of his 14 attempts. Typically around 75% from the line, it was an off night for him at the stripe. It was just stressful that a lot of those misses came when the game was so close.
The King of Kings
Despite his struggle at the free throw line, Domantas Sabonis is without question tonight's King of Kings. He led this team into battle with a determination and relentlessness that has me ready to run through a wall for him. Suffering physical abuse in the post all night long, Sabonis still managed to tally up a huge stat line and lead his team to victory. For his admirable efforts, he's not only the King of Kings tonight, but also the team's Defensive Player of the Game and gets to rock this sweet chain:
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 10, 2022
Sunday, December 11th @ New York Knicks - 3:00 P.M. (PT)