This past weekend gave us some of the best basketball we could have ever asked for and absolutely none of it came from the Sacramento Kings. Instead, we can thank Jalen Suggs and the Stanford & Arizona women's basketball teams for that. Meanwhile, the Kings started this week once again trying to get back on the right track. If you opted out of watching tonight's Kings game to save your basketball energy for the NCAA men's championship, I understand. That's what I'm here for - to suffer for you when you don't want to. So let's see how the Kings did:
Outcome: Kings lose, 116-106
Sacramento Kings: 106 PTS, 44.3% FG, 25.0% 3 PT, 79.2% FT, 27 AST, 14 TO
Minnesota Timberwolves: 116 PTS, 41.8% FG, 37.5% 3 PT, 84.8% FT, 22 AST, 14 TO
In the NBA, the toss doesn't get much softer than the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are currently the last-ranked team in the league. And, of course, the Kings whiffed it. After missing the last 26 games with a knee injury, D'Angelo Russell took over in final quarter, scoring 13 of his 25 points, to bury the Kings for their fourth loss in a row because OF COURSE he did. Another slow start, another poor shooting night, and another failure to finish in the fourth quarter means we all get to agonize over our personal decision to be a Sacramento Kings fan.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
- Free Throw Fox: De'Aaron Fox got a slow start, scoring just five points in the first quarter. He came out looking passive and hesitant, settling for midrange looks that didn't fall. About midway through the second quarter, the lightbulb finally went off as De'Aaron remembered who the hell he is and realized he was the fastest player on the floor. De'Aaron attacked the basket with fervor and was able to build a house, park his car, and make a living at the free throw line. He finished the half with 20 points and a perfect 9-9 from the line. He didn't see as much success in the second half, but finished the game with 31 points and 13-15 from the line.
- Late to Class, Again: As I try to imagine what these guys were like as kids, my best guess is they were the ones jumping out of bed at 8:25, brushing their teeth for a quick 30 seconds, skipping breakfast, and sliding into their seats at 8:40, all to be 10 minutes late to class. Once again, it has become a consistent theme for this team to take about 15 minutes of play before they look like they remember why they're there. Tonight the Kings came out with a lazy presence and lack of urgency. They allowed back door cuts, offensive boards, and transition points, even off of made baskets. With the exception of Harrison Barnes, who sustained the Kings by cashing in 12 points in the first quarter, the Kings sleepily waited around until De'Aaron Fox decided to take over.
- De'Aaron Dependency: De'Aaron Fox is exceptional and I say a prayer of gratitude to the basketball gods every day that we have him. And, like any thing in life, too much of a good thing can start to have counteractive effects. In the Kings' case, this team has become so heavily dependent on the All-Star play of Fox that they nearly can't survive without it. Everything starts and ends with Fox - if he doesn't show up, nobody shows up, and only when he decides to take over do they have a chance at competing. It puts a sickening feeling in my stomach to realize we have such a treasure in Fox but have so far only been able to build a team that relies on him rather than grows with him.
- Lazy on the Little Things: The Minnesota Timberwolves are not a good team. In fact, records place them at the very bottom of this league. And despite the final score, they did not do anything special tonight or that was out of character. Instead, the Kings proved once again that they are not willing to do the little things. All night long the Kings gave up offensive boards (15 total), and put their worst habits on full display - not closing out, not taking disciplined shots, not moving without the ball. Tonight the Kings suffered a death by a thousand cuts and they were all self-inflicted.
The King of Kings
As always, we have to do our absolute best to find something positive in all of this mess to keep us sane. And tonight's silver lining is the Black Falcon. Tonight's King of Kings goes to Harrison Barnes for being the safety net that keeps me from falling into the deepest depths of despair. When things get stagnant and the shot clock is winding down, Harrison is always the one to make something out of nothing. And with this team, there is often a lot of nothing going on. Harrison finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and two highlight dunks - here's one:
The Black Falcon chooses to ✈️ 𝙁𝙇𝙔 ✈️ pic.twitter.com/1hhN997i4z
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) April 5, 2021
Thursday, April 8th vs. Detroit Pistons - 7:00 P.M. (PT)