For the second time this season, the Kings entered tonight's game trying to avoid a double digit losing streak. As I imagined how either outcome would make me feel, I realized it would almost be too painfully poetic for the Kings to suffer their 10th straight loss to Luka Doncic as Marvin Bagley III is sidelined with a hand injury and an elusive future with this team. But then again, we all know how poetic the basketball gods can be, especially to Kings fans. Let's see how they did:
Outcome: Kings win, 121-107
Sacramento Kings: 121 PTS, 49.4% FG, 45.8% 3 PT, 88.0 % FT, 22 AST, 6 TO
Dallas Mavericks: 107 PTS, 44.8% FG, 33.3% 3 PT, 65.0% FT, 15 AST, 14 TO
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Bench Boost: The game started out slow from both teams and it looked like it was going to be a boring evening for both Sacramento and Dallas fans. The first quarter ended with the Kings up by two points (22-20) with no transition play and only a combined three 3-point makes for 24 attempts. Aside from consistent clean up work from Hassan Whiteside (9 points in the first quarter, flex move included, of course) and despite a shocking zero turnovers from the Kings, this was boring basketball. Luckily, the Kings' bench brought some much needed energy in the second quarter, led by Terence Davis who cashed in 15 points on 3-3 shooting from the 3-point line. As a team, the Kings were perfect from behind the arc for the second quarter (6-6) and it gave them a 17-point lead heading into the half. The bench provided the spark the Kings needed to get going and ultimately contributed 45 points by the end of the night.
- Handsy Defense: The Kings had an aggressive and handsy night on defense, mostly coming from help side blitzes. These aggressive plays forced the Mavericks into 14 total turnovers and allowed the Kings to get momentum by scoring in transition. Because the Mavericks cultivate their play around the slow and methodical pace of Luka Doncic, this allowed the Kings to quickly sneak in when heads were turned to cause deflections and steals. The 14 turnovers from the Mavericks were made even sweeter as the Kings took care of the ball on their end of the floor, committing only six turnovers throughout the game.
- Guard Your Yard, Man: The Kings were able to hold Luka Doncic to just 15 points through three quarters, forcing the ball out of his hands. This meant more touches for Dorian Finney-Smith (22 points) and Jalen Brunson (20 points). Finney-Smith hit six 3-pointers, mostly assisted by those insane, deep in the paint, over-the-shoulder Luka passes. But more frustrating was seeing Jalen Brunson torch the Kings' defense by simply blowing by his man time after time. I get when guarding Luka, help side can be expected. But when you finally get the ball out of his hands, Kings' individual defenders need to be able to stop the back up point guard from cutting them up with easy layups without relying on the help side.
- Let's Take the Night Off: Because the Kings finally won, I don't feel like being too cynical tonight. I think we all deserve a bit of a reprieve from having to think about the worst parts of Kings basketball and we can just enjoy the rare W. So bask away, my friends... (we never know when the next one will come).
The King of Kings
It is clear that De'Aaron Fox could easily be crowned the King of Kings on any night. Tonight was no different as he went shot for shot against one of the best players in the NBA and came out on top, finishing with 30 points and 12 assists. But, to share the love, I want to give tonight's crown to Harrison Barnes for his sweet, sweet revenge game. After being traded by the Dallas Mavericks mid-game, he was able to express himself tonight by raining in 24 points on 5-8 from the 3-point line. Especially with a quiet night from Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes stepped up for this team and then some to make sure they finally ended this long losing streak.
Tuesday, April 20th vs. Minnesota Timberwolves - 7:00 P.M. (PT)