The Kings entered the second half of this back-to-back wounded after a very weird loss to the Golden State Warriors last night. Not weird because they lost, but weird in that they only lost by four points and even had a chance to win had it not been for a Buddy Hield blunder that was somehow both unbelievable and not surprising at all. Statistically speaking, the Kings don't perform well on the second game of a back-to-back, losing seven out of ten so far this season. And statistically speaking, the Kings don't win basketball games without De'Aaron Fox, losing both of the games he's been out so far this season. BUT statistically speaking, the Kings do beat the Dallas Mavericks, remaining undefeated against them so far this season (1-0 is still technically undefeated). Since statistics mean nothing when it comes to predicting anything about this team, let's just see how they did:
Outcome: Kings win, 113-106
Sacramento Kings: 113 PTS, 51.9% FG, 44.8% 3 PT, 88.9% FT, 23 AST, 16 TO
Dallas Mavericks: 106 PTS, 46.7% FG, 28.6% 3 PT, 57.1% FT, 24 AST, 10 TO
The Sacramento Kings remain undefeated against the Dallas Mavericks this season, led by a double-double from Tyrese Haliburton (14 PTS, 10 AST) and an efficient 24 points in 25 minutes from Richaun Holmes. Luka Doncic finished with 24 points and eight assists. The ending was a bit anti-climactic from both teams, filled with airballs, turnovers, and a jump ball. But the Kings win and that's all that matters!!!
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Hot Start: Halfway through the first quarter, the Kings secured a 20-3 lead to force the Mavericks into their second timeout and everyone paused to wonder what the hell was going on. Hot shooting, high energy, and sound defense from the Kings, paired with cold shooting and just one point from Luka Doncic gave the Kings a 14-point lead heading into the second quarter. Harrison Barnes drained three 3-pointers to give the Kings some momentum, while Richaun Holmes and Damian Jones provided disciplined defensive coverage on Luka when forced into switches. The Kings executed defensively by forcing the ball out of Luka's hands and making other players take shots, which they luckily missed, and the Mavs ended the quarter 0-9 from deep. Seeing the Kings be the better team on both ends of the floor for an entire quarter was surprising, entertaining, and dare I say... FUN???
- Offensive Movement: In the absence of De'Aaron Fox, the Kings had to adjust their offense and find more complex ways to score. This meant more movement and less ball watching. The Kings finished with 23 assists, with nine of those completed in the first quarter when they looked their most efficient. Tyrese Haliburton showed no rookie reservations tonight as he led the offense with poise and professionalism. It was not a coincidence that the Kings worst offense occurred when Tyrese was either on the bench or only touching the ball for the first time late in the shot clock. His ability to facilitate and create offense was crucial for the Kings tonight.
- Boban Assassination: After an exciting first quarter for the Kings, Rick Carlisle decided to use his secret weapon and sent Boban Marjanovic into the game. True to the nature of his movie character, Ernest, who he played in the incredible movie, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, Boban came ready to assassinate. In just eight minutes, Boban bullied his way to 10 points on 4-4 from the field. Just like an assassin, he came, he killed, and he left, never to be seen again. The bad part in all of this was Luke Walton's inability to adjust to the size disadvantage that Mo Harkless was gravely suffering against Boban. He finally got Chimezie Metu in to pair with Damian Jones as a response to Boban's destruction, but the damage was already done.
- Diminishing Discipline: After such a good start, we saw the Kings fall back into bad habits and lack the focused discipline that got them their early success. Through the middle parts of the game, the Kings fell into some isolation offense again with little movement and no creativity. Defensively, we saw the Kings fall back into lazy rotations, blow by closeouts, and missed rebounds. They were able to put enough together tonight, but if they ever want to be a serious contending team, the Kings will need to learn how to play disciplined basketball for more than 12 minutes.
The King of Kings
For the second night in a row of filling the very fast shoes of De'Aaron Fox, tonight's crown goes to Tyrese Haliburton. It was clear that he was this team's focal point, as he efficiently facilitated the offense, finishing with 10 assists. He also hit some big shots down the stretch and made timely plays to keep the Kings on top during crunch time. In some ways, he is almost a harder assignment in crunch time than Fox, since he passes just as much as he scores, so it's hard to know what he will do. Fox, on the other hand, is so dominant in scoring, that you can almost bet on him taking the big shot. As the youngest player on the roster, Tyrese stepped up as the leader this team needed tonight.
Wednesday, April 28th vs. Utah Jazz - 7:00 P.M. (PT)