Down three points against the defending NBA Champions on their home court with 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation, De’Aaron Fox inbounded the ball to Kevin Huerter. His game-tying triple missed short and left. It missed because he was fouled by Klay Thompson.
Immediately after the shot went up Huerter, Fox, Malik Monk, and Domantas Sabonis all began pleading their case to the official. Thompson hit Huerter’s shooting elbow prior to the release and made contact with his wrist/hand soon after.
— De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) November 8, 2022
Fox tweeted about it. Monk did the same. Kevin Huerter liked a tweet about the Kings getting screwed over by officials and added his thoughts on Twitter as well. Head Coach Mike Brown shared his frustration postgame.
“I feel bad for our guys. It’s tough being a Sacramento King, I think, because Kevin got fouled. I know there are missed calls through the course of the game, missed calls on us, missed calls on our opponent. I just want, at the end of the game, somebody to step up and make the right call. A guy gets hit on the arm shooting a three, that’s a foul,” Coach Brown said. “A guy takes six steps, or three, four steps, it’s a travel. We just want an opportunity to win in overtime, but just like in the Miami game, I asked the ref if it was a foul, he said no. It’s clearly a foul. Again, like I said, I feel bad because our guys fought and they didn’t get an opportunity in overtime. It’s part of it, you know, but to have two games like that on the road where the whistle is swallowed and then there’s a missed call. That’s tough, man.”
Four days prior to Monday night’s game in Golden State, Sacramento lost another heartbreaker in Miami where Tyler Herro traveled on the game-winning shot. Both losses during the Kings’ four-game road trip featured crucial missed calls in the closing moments in favor of their opposition.
“It’s a marathon and our guys are getting better. But, like I said, maybe we could have done better record-wise,” Coach Brown said postgame. “After a loss like this, it stings, especially when you feel like you at least should have gotten an opportunity to try to send it into overtime.”
The referees missed that call, no doubt, but there were 47 minutes prior to that moment that allowed one final possession to be the difference.
Sacramento led 67-59 at the half behind Fox, Sabonis, and Monk’s combined 49 points which included 18/19 from the free-throw line. Golden State, meanwhile, was 5/16 from beyond the arc with all but one made triple coming from Stephen Curry.
The Warriors’ bench had been absolutely horrific to start the season and Sacramento took advantage of that while making some rotational changes at the backup five that Coach Brown hinted at prior to tipoff.
“It’s a long season. [Holmes] is gonna stick with it. At the end of the day, we’re gonna try to get wins collectively as a group and that’s why this is a team and sometimes it may mean that we play 13 guys, or we change up this guy or change up that guy,” Coach Brown said. “We’re gonna try to get a win in any way, shape, or form that we can and Richaun is gonna be a big part of what we’re doing this year as time moves on.”
Last night was just the 5th DNP-CD for Richaun Holmes through 158 games played with Sacramento.
— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) November 8, 2022
Chimezie Metu functioned as the backup five and allowed the Kings to switch everything on the defensive end of the floor. Davion Mitchell played a substantial amount of minutes alongside Fox, which had been a rare sight coming into the night.
CHIMZIE METU WITH THE HAMMER OVER TY JEROME pic.twitter.com/WXH0Syh5nl
— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) November 8, 2022
Their energy and defensive efforts were crucial to Sacramento’s halftime lead, but others struggled heavily as the game went on.
Harrison Barnes felt non-existent on both ends and ended the game with zero points for just the second time in his Sacramento career.
Keegan Murray looked lost on defense when paired against Golden State’s starting unit, which is to be expected when you’re talking about a rookie going against the defending champions but didn’t help the final outcome.
Kevin Huerter gave up multiple backdoor cuts and transition layups before being repeatedly targeted by Curry in isolation down the stretch.
Stephen Curry scored 17 in the fourth quarter, en route to a 47-point showing on 17/24 from the field along with eight assists and zero turnovers. Wiggins added 13 of this own in the final quarter as Sacramento’s defense honed in on the two-time MVP.
“You gotta be about perfect when you’re guarding him and you gotta hope also and pray that he misses a couple of shots,” Coach Brown said postgame. “We gotta get up the floor a little bit, find him in transition. We gotta keep making sure that he shoots twos instead of threes. Those things. But, like I said, I take my hat off to him and the rest of the Warriors cuz they turned it up a notch in the second half and we tried to respond but it was great for us to go through on the road.”
The no-call on the final possession of the game was egregious, but Sacramento had their opportunities to not let the game get to that point in the first place.
Their lack of physicality and wavering engagement in the second half allowed that call to drop their season record to 3-6, but the Kings have given themselves a chance to win almost every game they’ve been a part of and showed signs of promise along the way.
“We’re trending upwards,” Coach Brown said. “We just gotta keep getting better. We can’t take as many possessions off as we did in the second half. Like I said, overall, throw the record out the window, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made in these nine games.”
Last season, it was difficult to define a true strength but Sacramento’s list of weaknesses was extensive. This year, there seems to be a remaining optimism that if they can clean up the defensive side of the floor things will be just fine.
“(Coach Brown) has been in a lot of situations with a lot of winnings teams, so we just gotta trust him. We just gotta trust the work. It’s still early. We close, man. We’re super close,” Monk said. “…It’s all on the defensive end. The offense is always going to come to us, man. We just got a lot of weapons on that end. So, if we just buy into the little things, we’ll get it going. We’ll turn it around.”