In a story as old as this season, the Sacramento Kings stayed competitive for the first half of the contest on Wednesday evening, before surrendering huge runs to the Los Angeles Clippers in the third and fourth quarters on their way to a 115-96 defeat, their ninth loss in 11 games. Kawhi Leonard treated each individual Kings player as his personal Ben McLemore, recording 6 steals, along with 32 points, and 5 assists on the night, while Paul George added 19 points, 7 boards, and 12 dimes of his own. De'Aaron Fox was the main man for the Kings, putting up a line of 25 points and 7 assists, with no other Sacramento player recording more than 14 points.
As has been the case for the last few contests, the Kings came out with a sense of purpose on the defensive end of the floor. For the first time in 12 quarters, Sacramento held their opponent to under 30 points in the first twelve minutes, an especially important feat considering the Clippers rank as the seventh-best offense in the NBA. Buddy Hield knocked down both of his long-balls on his way to eight points, while Kahwi Leonard was the man for Los Angeles, pouring in 10 points on seven attempts.
After dropping four assists in the first quarter to help his teammates get comfortable, De'Aaron Fox once again demonstrated his ability to shoulder the offensive burden for the Kings in the second quarter. He regularly brushed by world-class defenders such as Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard for a cool 14 points on 6/7 shooting from the floor. Luke Walton also experimented with some interesting lineups in the period, at one point running a group of Cory Joseph, Glen Robinson III, Justin James, Marvin Bagley, and Chimezie Metu, and that crew actually played surprisingly well. Unfortunately, the Kings streak of holding opponents to 30 points in a quarter was snapped at one, as they surrendered 36 points in the period to the Clippers, including an 8-0 run just before the end of the half, granting Los Angeles a 61-56 heading into the locker room.
The third quarter went exactly as you would expect. The Kings started the period with two turnovers and a blocked shot, and things only devolved from there. Los Angeles went on multiple double-digit runs, the Kings showed absolutely zero fight, Luke Walton ran bonkers lineups with zero offense, and Sacramento found themselves down 20 at the end of three, losing the quarter 34-19.
Basketball was played in the fourth quarter. None of it really mattered.
- Nemanja Bjelica once again did not play for the Kings; however, Luke Walton referenced a vague "personal matter" that may be preventing Bjelica from playing.
- Tyrese Haliburton had a bit of a rough outing, scoring 11 points and grabbing 3 boards, but the rookie also committed three turnovers and missed 7 of his 11 shot attempts.
- De'Aaron Fox (8) and Glen Robinson III (2) were the only Kings players to take free throws in non-garbage time minutes.