It’s hard to believe when you look at the final score, but this was a close game through three quarters. Sure, the Kings went on a few runs, but it was a real back-and-forth game, mired by a heavy-handed whistle that made quarters feel like halves. And yet, when push came to shove, it was the Sacramento Kings who stepped up and secured a convincing victory, beating the Dallas Mavericks 129-113.
The key against the Mavericks is generally to have your team as a whole be better than Dallas’ stars. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are both superb scorers, and containing one of them is difficult, let along containing both. And yet tonight those two stars were outshone by Sacramento’s fantastic duo. De’Aaron Fox had 30 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 0 turnovers. Domantas Sabonis had 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Both Sacramento stars were aggressive early and often, and came up huge when the team needed them.
The Kings also displayed their depth tonight. Kevin Huerter missed the game due to a finger injury, but Chris Duarte filled in admirably and finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and just 3 fouls. It was really good seeing him find his groove after some rough stints earlier in the season.
Keegan Murray continues to impress. I felt like he had a very quiet night, and he struggled from three, going just 2-for-7 from deep, and yet he still finished with 17 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal. It’s the type of performance that would have had us thrilled at this point last season, but our expectations have grown with Keegan’s game. It’s fun to sometimes notice how well he’s playing even on nights that feel lackluster.
Harrison Barnes also had a nice night. He finished with 12 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal. The line doesn’t jump off the screen, but he played solid defense throughout the game and had some big shots when the Kings really needed the momentum to swing back in their favor.
Overall this was just such a fun win. The first three quarters created drama and tension, only to have the Kings convincingly put the game away earlier in the 4th. The Kings are now 8-4 on the season, and 6-1 in game with De’Aaron Fox in the lineup. The Kings also now sit 4th in the Western Conference. There’s a lot of season left to play, but 12 games into the year is about when things first start taking shape, and it’s a positive sign that the Kings are in a good place despite a few rough games early on.