Facing off on the second night of a back-to-back against a Clipper squad that beat them handily in Sacramento two weeks ago in their last back-to-back contest, the Kings played listless and inconsistent on both ends of the court on route to a 119-99 beatdown in Los Angeles. The Kings again showed they have a consistency problem—after a team-record 25 made threes against the Nets on Monday, the Kings made just 10 threes and shot 27% from deep and 41.9% from the field against the Clippers, and failed to handle Los Angeles’ physicality on both ends of the court. The Kings fell to 0-3 in their three back-to-back match-ups this season, which included the 131-117 loss to the Clippers in Sacramento on November 29—and they had no real excuse in tonight’s contest, given that the Clippers also played on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Keegan Murray led the Kings with 17 points and 7 rebounds, leading the team in both in points and minutes played as Mike Brown pulled his other starters midway through the 3rd quarter. De’Aaron Fox had 14 points, 3 assists, and 4 turnovers while shooting 5-16 from the field. Domantas Sabonis had 15 points and 10 rebounds but struggled to hang with the physical tone the Clippers set early in the game. The night was best summed up when Brown won his coaches challenge mid-way through the 3rd quarter, but the refs ruled that neither team had had possession and opted for a jump-ball – which the Kings lost, and which then led to layup by Ivica Zubac. It was categorically bad night for Sacramento from start to finish, although the reserve squad of Kessler Edwards, Sasha Vezenkov, Chris Duarte, and Jordan Ford deserve hat tips for their energy late in garbage time. If not for a 22-9 run by that squad to end the game, Sacramento would have finished with season low stats across the board.
The Kings sluggish offense started from the jump, as it seemed all their shots in the 1st quarter came up short. Fox got the offense going to close out the period, scoring two straight threes and throwing a laser of a pass to Keegan for a gorgeous layup. But the Clippers also ended the quarter on a heater and hit 55% from deep to hold a 32-24 lead after the 1st period. Things didn’t get much better to start the 2nd quarter – while Malik Monk connected with JaVale McGee on two pretty ally-oops, the chaotic duo sandwiched those two plays with multiple mistakes. McGee had a goaltend on the other end followed by an offensive foul trying to spring Monk free on a screen, and Monk capped it off by fouling Norman Powell on a three point shot. This stretch of self-inflicted wounds by the Kings sparked the big run by Los Angeles, as the Clippers lead snowballed into an avalanche of easy deep, mid-range, and paint buckets. Los Angeles held a 70-48 lead going into the half and shot 59% from the field and 50% from three while also outscoring the Kings in the paint 32-26—all while the Kings failed to consistently hit even the good looks from deep (4-18 from three in the half) that had fallen just 24 hours ago against the Nets.
Sacramento falls to 13-9 on the season, and all 9 of their losses have come against just 4 teams – the Clippers, Warriors, Rockets, and Pelicans. It’s hard to see the Kings getting to the spot they want come mid-April when they keep repeating repeat losses against their Western Conference rivals.
The Kings return home for a 6-game homestand that starts on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.