Fueled by the strength of six straight beams, the Kings landed in New Orleans for their first second night on a back to back. Tonight was the first of two consecutive matchups with the Pelicans and the Kings had the task of containing the explosive freight train that is Zion Williamson and his running mate, the human cellar spider, Brandon Ingram. Let’s see how they did:
Outcome: Kings lose, 93-129
Sacramento Kings: 93 pts, 37.9% fg, 24.4% 3 pt, 66.7% ft, 27 ast, 36 reb, 13 to
New Orleans Pelicans: 129 pts, 54.3% fg, 42.9% 3 pt, 81.0% ft, 38 ast, 55 reb, 12 to
Well, the beam gets a night off. The Kings came out with some spunk, overcoming a 12-point deficit early on to finish the first quarter with a 2-point lead. But it didn’t take long for Zion Williamson to realize he is a freak of nature and he jump started the Pelicans’ run to victory in the second quarter. From there, things only got uglier. From every spot on the floor, including the free throw line, the Kings struggled to put the ball in the basket. And at the end of the day, it’s just really hard to win basketball games when you can’t do that.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Another Shot Soon: The Kings looked like the Kings for the first 20 minutes before the fatigue set in and they turned into the Kangz. Before leaving the game at the half with a reported lower back injury, Keegan Murray showed some valuable defensive possessions on his tough defensive assignment of Brandon Ingram, both in transition and the half court set. Domantas Sabonis got out to another productive start, finishing the first quarter with 7 point and 6 rebounds. The Kings connected on 13 assists in the first half, as the ball moved around the offensive half well. Malik Monk showcased his creative spark off the bench, setting up plays for Sabonis and JaVale McGee. And then, simply put, everything fell apart, as the score clearly indicates. But there’s a silver lining in everything, right? Tonight’s is that the Kings will have another shot at redemption against this Pelicans team in just a few days. On fresher legs, the Kings will hopefully be able to do more of the few good things we saw tonight.
- Cold Shooting: Beginning midway through the second quarter, it felt like the Kings would go for extremely long stretches without hitting a single field goal. Credit should be given to the Pelicans, who played active defense on the perimeter and collapsed well in the paint to plug up any open looks at the rim. But when the collapse happened and the Kings found open shooters, shots just weren’t falling. So many of the Kings’ shots were either too short or too long as they shot just 11-45 (24.4%) from the 3-point line. Usual snipers like De’Aaron Fox (14 points), Kevin Huerter (10 points), and Malik Monk (8 points), combined for 6-26 from distance. The Pelicans were able to go on multiple runs when the Kings went through these scoring droughts. Eventually, these runs added up to an insurmountable deficit for the Kings.
- Injuries: If I could, I would donate every muscle, ligament, and tendon I have to this team. The Kings went into this game without Trey Lyles (calf strain), Alex Len (ankle sprain), and Keon Ellis (ankle sprain). And by the end of the first half, they also lost Chris Duarte to a hand injury and Keegan Murray to a lower back injury. Health is so important in this league and the Kings suffered from their shortened bench tonight.
- Dominated by the Duo: Here’s a TLDR of the game: The first quarter was fun. The second quarter was the Zion Williamson Show. The third quarter was the Brandon Ingram Show. The fourth quarter was… the debut of Filip Petrusev. It was during the middle two quarters when things really got away from the Kings. First, Zion spent the second quarter singlehandedly creating the separation by scoring 18 of his 26 points. Zion finished 12-16 from the field and got to the left side of the rim whenever he wanted. Whether he was coming off of curl actions from the right side to send him downhill with his strong hand, or he was just taking advantage of his size over Harrison Barnes, the Kings had no answer for Zion. Once Zion was tired of ruining my night, Brandon Ingram stepped in to take over. In the third quarter, Ingram scored 18 of his 31 points, shooting a perfect 5-5 from the 3-point line. Paired with the Kings’ inability to get in the paint and score efficiently, these two individual performances for the Pelicans was more than enough to put this game away very early.
The King of Kings
Off the bench, JaVale McGee finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Prior to everything falling apart, McGee was active on the glass and had some fun two-man actions with Malik Monk. With the uncertainty of the Kings’ injury report for the near future, McGee will likely be looked to again to replicate and multiply these productive actions for his team for them to earn redemption on Wednesday.
Wednesday, November 22nd @ New Orleans Pelicans – 5:00 P.M. (PT)