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Heat 115, Kings 106: South Beach Blues

Sacramento's winning streak comes to an end despite 33 points from Keegan Murray and yet another triple-double from Domantas Sabonis.
By | 35 Comments | Jan 31, 2024

Jan 31, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) controls the basketball against Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) during the fourth quarter at Kaseya Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

All good things must come to an end and tonight saw the end of Sacramento’s four game winning streak at the hands of Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. The Heat ended a seven-game skid of their own by beating the Kings 115 to 106 behind 31 points from Jimmy Butler and a season-high 24 points from Josh Richardson.

Keegan Murray led the way for the Kings with a game-high 33 points, including 7 of 11 from three, and Domantas Sabonis notched another triple-double with 19 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists.

Everyone knew coming into this game that the Heat would be extremely poised and focused to try to end their losing streak and that certainly was the case tonight.  Miami played like a cohesive unit throughout the game on both ends of the floor.  On offense, the Heat swung the ball to get the best look possible and finished with a whopping 38 assists (ties an opponent season-high) on 42 made shots.  Defensively, the Heat spent a lot of time in a Zone Defense that stymied the Kings and took away the paint.  The Kings tried to respond by taking the three pointers that were given to them as a result but only Keegan Murray found any success; the rest of the team shot just 5 of 29 from distance (17.2%).

Bench play was another big factor in this game, as Miami’s bench outscored Sacramento’s 47 to 18.  Thomas Bryant, who played only 2:41 seconds, was the only Heat bench player to not have at least seven points.  On the Kings bench, Malik Monk led the way with a paltry six points to continue his January slump.  Monk looked out of sorts for much of the night, shooting just 3-8 from the field and 0-4 from three. More shockingly, he finished without a single assist but did have three turnovers.

The Kings started the game off decently enough, leading 18-17 after a Kevin Huerter three with four minutes to go in the 1st quarter.  The Heat proceeded to finish the quarter on an 11-5 run and lead 28-22 whereupon Josh Richardson took it upon himself to turn into Shiva, destroyer of worlds.  After the King started the second quarter by cutting the lead to 28-26, Richardson made 3 three-pointers and also assisted on Miami’s only other basket in what was a personal 11-0 run to give Miami a 13 point lead.  From there it only seemed to get worse as the Heat ended up building an 18 point lead after a Caleb Martin layup with 6:02 left in the half.  It was looking like it was going to be one of those nights again for the Kings, but then Domantas Sabonis woke up from whatever slumber he had been in and had a dominant end to the half.  Up until this point, Sabonis had yet to score.  Sabonis proceeded to score or assist the Kings next four baskets and the Kings went on a 21-6 run to cut Miami’s lead to three. By the end of the half, the Kings had actually ended up outscoring the Heat in the 2nd quarter by two and trailed 59-55.

The start of the 3rd quarter saw the Kings and Heat trade blows and leads for a while until the Kings took a 70-67 lead on a Domantas Sabonis three pointer.  That would end up being the last lead the Kings held in the entire game.  Tyler Herro tied the game up with his own three shortly after, and then Jimmy Butler scored 9 straight points to give Miami a 79-75 lead with 5:22 left.  The Kings still managed to keep the game within reach though, with De’Aaron Fox hitting a jumper with two seconds left to cut Miami’s lead to six heading into the final frame.

The Kings went cold as ice to start the fourth, with their only field goal in the first few minutes being a JaVale McGee putback.  Despite only scoring 10 points as a team midway through the quarter, the game was still in reach, and the Kings cut it to a six point game off a Domantas Sabonis And-1 with 5:41 left.  Jimmy Butler and Jason Richardson responded with some huge shots however, together combining for a 7-0 run over the next minute while the Kings missed some more open three point attempts.  The Kings wouldn’t make another field goal (They made a few free throws) until Keegan Murray hit a three pointer with 2:12 left after Miami had rebuilt the lead back up to 15. But by then it was too little, and Miami ended up closing the game out to end their losing streak and give the Kings their first loss of this road trip.

The Kings continue their road trip on Friday in Indiana where they’ll get their first look at Pascal Siakam as a Pacer.

Random Observations:

  • This was a very disappointing game for De’Aaron Fox who finished with just 13 points on 4-16 from the field.  He made his 120th three of the season tonight, which is already a career-high for makes in a season, but he did so on just 1-8 shooting from the field.  Fox’s growth as a three point shooter is to be commended, but it feels at times this season that he has too often resorted to settling for these threes instead of seeking his more traditional shots in the paint or the midrange.  The Kings need Fox to assert himself and take over games when it matters.
  • Harrison had another rough shooting night, going 0-6 from three. A couple of those threes I don’t necessarily blame him on because they were passes to him at the end of shot clocks but the rest were absolutely wide open. It’s fair to have some regression with Harrison after those three huge games but it’s the inconsistency in what we get from him that can be so frustrating.  There has to be some sort of middle ground between shooting 30% and 80%.
  • Keegan Murray was tremendous, especially in the first half where he scored 21 points.  It was surprising to me that the Kings didn’t opt to try to get him going in the second half as much after how well he had been playing in the first.  He was the only Kings shooter with a hot hand.  He should have been featured a bit more down the stretch.
  • Kevin Huerter continues his excellent play on both ends of the court. I’ve been impressed with his defense of late, especially in terms of getting deflections and contesting.  He also chipped in 14 points and had several nice takes to the rim, which I like to see as someone who thinks the Kings too often settle for threes when the paint is open.
  • Domantas Sabonis is just so consistent. It took him a while to get going in this one but there he is again with yet another triple-double. At one point it looked like he wasn’t even going to get a double-double and then 10 minutes later he had a triple-double.  Sabonis also hit his only three attempt of the game, making him 10-14 from three for the month of January. He’s now up to 45.1% from three for the season.  But he only shoots one a game, and only when he doesn’t have anyone within five feet of him. He needs to up these percentages to at least a couple a game, if not three. I’m not asking for a ton here but if you’re going to be knocking down nearly half your long range attempts, you gotta let it fly more my man.
  • One of my biggest requests for Monte McNair at the trade deadline (aside from the oft-requested 3&D wing) is a steady backup PG.  Davion Mitchell is not great at doing the things a Point Guard should do, and Malik Monk is too wild at times to reliably run an offense.  The Kings need a veteran, steady hand who can get the Kings into their offense and knock down the occasional shot or two. Someone like a Tyus Jones or Malcolm Brogdon would be great, but even just someone like Ish Smith would be fine.  The Kings need some reliability off the bench.
  • Jaime Jaquez Jr. is like the ultimate Miami Heat player. He’s only a rookie but he looks like he’s been playing with the team for years already.  He didn’t put up any ultra gaudy stats or anything (8 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist) but I was impressed with how often he seemed to make the right read, whether it was a cut or pass.
  • Kevin Love caught Trey Lyles with a pump fake in the second quarter and got to the line as a result. Trey, you don’t need to bite on Kevin Love pump fakes, he can’t jump anymore.

 

 

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Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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January 31, 2024 8:30 pm

Something I noticed and gave me serious cause for concern is how the Heat attacked Barnes. They singled him out on defense and feasted on him in isolation. He was slow of foot and got blown by many times. Even worse was he’d didn’t seem to give the effort to even foul. He was the POA weak link tonight and allowed the heat to do whatever they liked off the dribble. It was something I had not seen before.

Also, Fox is off. Maybe it’s just lingering bumps and bruises, but he’s not with it at the moment. I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t make the All-Star team if it allows him to rest and come back with a chip on his shoulder.

Lastly, heaps of praise for Sabonis and Keegan. They carried the Kings tonight. The game would have been an ugly blow out with either of them not there.

Amonk81
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January 31, 2024 8:56 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

its disconcerting how off Fox seems on and off the court.

That post game interview a few weeks back when Fox finally talked to the media——he looked irritable and refused to answer the ? Of why he hadn’t been talking. He looked tired, cranky…not typical Fox. And he made a remark about. Having to practice over the three days off rather than just getting time off.

Perhaps he needs a break but doesn’t feel is allowed one? I don’t know, but he does not look at all happy or engaged out there on the floor either.

He is obviously injured and hurt. He needs time off. But I’m wondering if some of the problem is that there’s a disconnect between him and the coaching staff whoever over having to play hurt?

Something isn’t right with Fox obviously and something is off about this entire team right now.

Yakshi
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January 31, 2024 9:05 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

In the game threads especially, Fox’s recent dip in production has brought the anti-foxxers out of the woodwork (not saying that you are one). I don’t think I’ve followed a player that has proven doubters wrong–sometimes staggeringly so–at every stage of his development . . . and yet somehow they find a way to recycle the same complaints today, as if his improvement never even happened.

And to his credit, he doesn’t seem to be using injuries as an excuse.

If injuries are a factor, then I second your notion of him taking the All-Star game off to get rest instead.

Inthestarz
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January 31, 2024 10:19 pm
Reply to  Yakshi

The complaint is the same as it was since he first donned a Kings uni

he has a inconsistent motor which results in sporadic bad play

I’m not sure how long the entire fan base isn’t accepting it

RikSmits
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January 31, 2024 10:41 pm
Reply to  Yakshi

Game threads are immediate – heat of the moment – reactions to what happens in a game. If you are looking for thought-out, measured takes in a game thread, you’re on a fools errand.

Also, it is possible to root for Fox while still having valid criticism about certain things. For instance, I can applaud Fox’s improvement from 3 while still wishing that he’d go to the rim more at certain moments.

DutchKingsFanInUK
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January 31, 2024 10:43 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Ew, you mean a take on basketball can be nuanced? You make me sick!

RikSmits
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January 31, 2024 10:49 pm

It doesn’t have to be. But it can.

RikSmits
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January 31, 2024 10:49 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

That’s my main issue with Barnes; not that he isn’t scoring that much, but that he has no added value when he isn’t scoring.

His defense has deteriorated, he doesn’t rebound much or sets play-winning screens like Sabonis.

Given his role, I can’t fault him much for the lack of consistency, especially when everyone not named Domas has been inconsistent this season. But he needs to provide more in other aspects of the game.

keith_kar
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February 1, 2024 5:56 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Yes, good point. Barnes certainly doesn’t rebound too much. It seems that burden is given to Sabonis. I’ll have to watch a little closer, but I don’t usually see Barnes mixing it up under the glass very often, fighting for boards.

MichaelMack
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February 1, 2024 9:41 am
Reply to  keith_kar

I think my problem with Barnes, in regards to rebounding, isn’t that he doesn’t mix it up under the glass. It would be nice if he did, but Sabonis isn’t missing too many rebounds right at the rim, and Keegan has a knack for rebounding in traffic too (Trey holds his own as well).

My problem is how immobile he is once the shot goes up. With teams shooting 40+ threes a game, there are so many long rebounds, and HB only gets those that come right at him. Kevin is making a great effort to go find the ball, and having guards and wings who do that is so key. HB can be a statue when the ball pops out. Drives me crazy.

Jack
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February 1, 2024 7:57 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I’m concerend about quite a few things. In no particular order Fox, our bench is terrible, Monk especially turnovers, a backup point guard, Lyles as a trusted backup, our 3 point shooting(except Murray and Huerter), our defense except Murray and sometimes Fox, what to do with Barnes as a starter, who we can trade for with what we have to work with (a trade worth something), what will happen if we stay pat? Will we make theplayoffs? Just a few.

Jack
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February 1, 2024 8:04 am
Reply to  Jack

I also worry about how the coaches are coaching the team. They are great coaches and can only do what are given them. What happened to Ellis? I thought he was doing just fine as a backup point guard. Why isn’t Murray when he’s hot not given more touches? Last night for example he should have gotten more touches in the second half but didn’t. Don’t understand. Maybe he doesn’t smile enough.

BeTheBall
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January 31, 2024 9:23 pm

After seeing Josh Richardson have his way with us tonight, I’m not looking forward to facing Ben Sheppard in Indy.

NorCalKingsFan
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January 31, 2024 9:51 pm

That just wasn’t going to be good enough, there were a couple of good defensive stops and a whole bunch of just shit defense.

rockbottom
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January 31, 2024 10:27 pm

Kings can’t win with key players like Fox, Barnes and Monk being unproductive .

Jack
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February 1, 2024 8:11 am
Reply to  rockbottom

If we stay pat at the trade line then this is probably what you are going to get. IMO Fox will be alright but something has to be done with the other 2. Barnes just doesn’t have it anymore and Monk lately has more turnovers than assists. I don’t envy Monte. Not much to work with.

Hobby916
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February 1, 2024 4:34 am

Does the team not trust Keegan in the 2nd half? Is there some kind of ego/pride thing happening with Fox where he rarely seems to find Keegan? He came back in around the 7:30ish mark in the 4th and I don’t think he touched the ball offensively until he had the 3pt shot around the 2:10 mark (which he made, oh and then he made his next one too). Feed this man. Especially when he is the only one making outside shots.

The bench is just bad. No consistency.

As for the backup PG need. I like Monte Morris as a vet who knows what to do and plays within himself. He has an expiring contract, so if things don’t work out he doesn’t have to be retained. Davion just doesn’t bring it enough, and he was being switched on to almost every possession by Jimmy/Jaime. They knew the size difference.

Jman1949
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February 1, 2024 6:03 am
Reply to  Hobby916

Someone else mentioned in the game thread this hypothetical distrust between Fox and Keegan. Moments after that comment, Fox passed to a wide-open Keegan for a three-point attempt, which he missed. Looking at the play-by-play, I think that happened at the 4:43 mark of the fourth quarter.

Given the fact that Fox reportedly worked with Keegan all summer long and the two developed a pretty close off-court relationship, I’m not sure how likely this “Fox may resent Keegan” speculation is.

Last edited 25 days ago by Jman1949
Hobby916
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February 1, 2024 6:15 am
Reply to  Jman1949

Just watching the games it seems to happen late in the 4th where Fox tries to do it all himself. Maybe he just gets tunnel vision and tries to will the team to a victory, idk. An obversation is all.

I wonder what Fox’s assists to teammates looks like. Who is he is looking for more during the games.

Last edited 25 days ago by Josh Hobson
Jman1949
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February 1, 2024 10:45 am
Reply to  Hobby916

I think Fox is more of a combo guard than a traditional pass-first point guard. His tendency to “do it himself” down the stretch of games is what earned him the clutch player award last season. The rest of the team also has a tendency to stand and watch when he goes to work, resulting in lack of movement to get open. Some of that may be to avoid drawing additional defenders into Fox’s path.

I also wanted to address fans’ speculation about some rift between Fox and Keegan. It just doesn’t make sense to me that Fox would spend time and effort working with Keegan all summer, then undermine Keegan’s progress by intentionally keeping the ball away from him.

Hobby916
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February 1, 2024 10:52 am
Reply to  Jman1949

Yeah, I don’t know if there is a rift between, I just have noticed that passes tend to not go Keegan’s way later in games. The same could be said for Huerter and Barnes. So it is probably a product of the game plan to get out of Fox’s way and see what he can do.

Movement offense works all game, and then things just stop, and we see the lack of offense in the final few minutes.

RealMaKoi
February 1, 2024 1:31 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

It is a problem when the team isn’t getting the ball to Keegan when he has the hot hand. He is more aggressive this year, but he still needs someone to actually let it touch his hands before he can do something with it. Maybe rotate him out of his short corner duties?

You think Fox doesn’t like the guy he refers to as Uncle Keegs to his kid?

Keegan Murray went from NBA rookie to “Uncle Keegs” following his first season in the league.

The 23-year-old Kings forward has spent a lot of time with the Fox family this offseason, including De’Aaron and Recee Fox’s baby Reign. And even though his rookie obligations are no longer, Murray has been put on babysitting duty at times this summer.

Jack
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February 1, 2024 8:14 am
Reply to  Hobby916

Then where is Keon Ellis? 6’6″ and plays defense. Probably isn’t the entire answer but should play more until answers are gotten.

Hobby916
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February 1, 2024 10:42 am
Reply to  Jack

That is a question for the coaching staff. Ellis is more of a Shooting/Combo guard. He played well and then started riding the pine.

Dorde34
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February 1, 2024 6:14 am

PSA……Back PG is needed. Check on the prices of Tyus Jones, Monte Morris, Caruso. They can be had, so get it done! Done with Davion and Monk playing PG in non Fox minutes. It’s atrocious. In addition, an upgrade at the wing is paramount. Barnes has to go. Dorian, Kuzma, Grant, whoever. Don’t care. Get it done. Change the trajectory of the team before it’s too late.

Hobby916
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February 1, 2024 6:40 am
Reply to  Dorde34

They have helped dig large holes recently that make winning a challenge.

Jack
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February 1, 2024 8:48 am
Reply to  Dorde34

Hypothetical trade: Barnes Jones a first and as many seconds it takes or maybe just maybe another first to the Rockets for Olipido( expiring contract ) Right now he’s hurt but only a filler. Tari Eason who replaces Barnes. He is an excellent defender like Herb Jones, rebounds, is an excellent weakside defender, shoots the 3 at or around 40% is only 22 so has not even reached his potential. Has a 7’2.5″ wingspan and runs the floor well. Doesn’t have to be a scorer but can stretch the floor. Can play either PF or SF. We would also get Cam Whitmore a 6’7″ SF who is only 19 but scores around 11 or 12 points a game. Shoots over 39% from the 3 and especially is a really good defensive player. I know this doesn’t count for much but came from Villinova which LMPO is great. Villinova sends really good players to the NBA. They all have exremelly gteat fundamentals. I looked at his highlights and was very impressed.

Jack
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February 1, 2024 8:52 am
Reply to  Jack

PS. The reason I did this trade is the Rockets are looking at Barnes to help with development of younger players and a great loocker room presents. Jones in up and coming and would help with replacing Whitmore. And they get our draft picks.

Hobby916
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February 1, 2024 10:48 am
Reply to  Jack

I was hopeful for an Eason/Whitmore trade, but it appears that Houston would like to keep them. They want impact players, and that ain’t Barnes. My hunch is that Barnes remains a King until the offseason, and some ancillary moves are made to consolidate the Kings bench/DNP-CD guys.

As ineffective as Barnes has been, the bench production is also worrisome and probably easier to upgrade mid-season. It seems that every team thinks their players are worthy of 1st round picks, which is truly laughable. So expect names like Bones Hyland, Nassir Little, Jonathan Isaac, Monte Morris, Doug McDermott, etc. to be the ones that end of being talked about and traded. None of them are 1st round worthy players (I am not advocating for any of them to be moved to the Kings, FWTW).

UpgradedToQuestionable
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February 1, 2024 9:19 am

Sac really struggled with the Miami zone D and the Princeton like offense that really clicked for Coach Spo last night.

Next.

keith_kar
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February 1, 2024 9:46 am

Yeah, Kings had no answer for that zone.

ajonez81
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February 1, 2024 9:26 am

Lots of questions with this team despite a pretty good record. My main one right now is what happened to Brown having solid rotations? So Barnes can go 0-6 from three and Sasha can’t even get some playing time, Lyles hasn’t stepped up either. Davion can suck all year and be in and out of the rotation, just keep him out and let Keon cook at least he has some size. Len and McGee should both be getting consistent minutes even if it’s not many each game.

Jman1949
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February 1, 2024 10:26 am
Reply to  ajonez81

Sasha has been out the last few games with ankle injuries:

Wed, Jan 31, 2024Out (Ankle) – Vezenkov is out for Wednesday’s (Jan. 31) game against Miam

TerzoM
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February 1, 2024 2:12 pm

Shot 12/40 from 3. Simple math.
comment image

Hobby916
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February 1, 2024 2:59 pm
Reply to  TerzoM

Usually the recipe for a Kings loss.

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