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Knicks 98, Kings 91: Brunson’s 42 spoils solid Kings’ defensive effort

Sacramento played with energy and intensity but couldn't hit clutch shots down the stretch in the loss.
By | 78 Comments | Mar 16, 2024

March 16, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) shoots the basketball against Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

SACRAMENTO — This one started extra “friendly”, when Isaiah Hartenstein took Domantas Sabonis to the ground early with an embrace, one that didn’t draw a whistle. It was a sign of things to come, as the Kings and Knicks battled in a physical affair Saturday night at the Golden1 Center.

“We knew that’s the style of play that they wanted, to play,” De’Aaron Fox said. “As best as we could, we tried to get out and run to negate that physicality, but we played right into their hands.”

Sabonis took the affection personally, scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds in the first quarter. Unfortunately for his team, players not in a number 10 jersey shot just 2-12 from the field with five turnovers as the Kings’ offense started slower than molasses against the physical Knicks. Fortunately, New York wasn’t much better, converting on just nine of their 21 first quarter attempts to trail Sacramento 22-21 after one.

“The game was a physical game,” Mike Brown said. “Their physicality, I thought, impacted us shooting the ball even when we were open. Because of how physical they are – they hit, they grab, they push you throughout the course of the game – it impacted how we shoot the ball.”

The second quarter was much of the same, though the bench finally got involved in the action. Sacramento shot just 39% from the field, and while the Knicks weren’t much better, Jalen Brunson did start to heat up, scoring 15 points in the frame, including a string of seven straight. After a scoreless first quarter, the Kings reserve managed 11 in the second, led by Malik Monk’s eight. Though the went into the locker room trailing 53-48, Sacramento had effectively matched New York’s physicality, and hadn’t let their struggles on offense dictate their effort on D.

“We were able to get to the free throw line, we just weren’t able to convert on the breaks that we had,” Fox said. “We got good looks, but a lot of it – we just didn’t make shots. That’s a good defensive team, so you have to be able to capitalize on your opportunities. We just didn’t do that.”

The highlight of the third quarter wasn’t a play on the court but a moment from the Knick’s bench; after Josh Hart hit Keegan Murray on the top of the head during a shot attempt, drawing a review, the jumbotron showed Brunson and Hart on the Knick’s bench. Brunson looked into the camera, pointed at Hart, gave a thumbs down and booed his teammate, drawing a good laugh from the crowd. The call sparked something in Sacramento, as Murray made the two free throws, Harrison Barnes converted on the extra possession, De’Aaron Fox converted a bad Hartenstein pass into two more points, and the Kings forced a shot clock violation the next time down to make it a three point game.

After Fox was called for a technical and Brunson made the free throw, Barnes connected from deep to draw the Kings within one. But the Knicks would create separation again as Brunson stayed hot. But, as has often been the case over the past several weeks, Keon Ellis and Davion Mitchell came up big, spurring a Sacramento run that saw them take the lead at 63-61 thanks to a Monk three and excellent defense by the guard duo. The teams would go back and forth the remainder of the quarter, combining for six lead changes and seven ties over the final 5:36 of the quarter as both teams kept the intensity ratcheted up.

“I knew [defensive intensity] would take some time, but I knew our guys were capable,” Brown said. “We just need to make sure we don’t lose our identity on offense. We’ve faced two physical defensive teams [in last two losses] and they dare you to spray the ball. And if you don’t it’s going to be a slugfest. If I was disappointed tonight, it was that we didn’t have enough sprays.” Brown went on to say that Sacramento was just 3-9 on sprayed threes after being around 50% on 20 attempts in their last two wins.

The fourth quarter was a tale of missed opportunities; the Kings had two chances on a fast break layup trailing 79-75 but Ellis missed the layup and Monk couldn’t convert the put back dunk attempt. With 8:30 remaining and the Kings up one, Sabonis missed two free throws, sparking a 6-0 Knicks run. After a Barnes three, Brunson went on a personal 5-0 run to put his team up seven, but the Kings would respond behind five straight from Monk to make it a four point game with 3:24 to play.

Needing a stop, the Kings couldn’t get one, as Hartenstein went right at Sabonis for a three point play to make it 94-87 Knicks with just over three minutes remaining. A Keon Ellis baseline jam would cut the lead to three with 2:25 to play, but back to back misses by Fox and Monk and a double dribble call against Sabonis – who was really trying to sell a foul call – preceded a Brunson floater that all but iced the game with 36.7 to play.

Brunson would finish with a game-high 42 points, his second straight game of cresting the 40 point mark.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Jalen – he’s a hell of a player,” Brown said. “I don’t know if we’ve blitzed anyone – Steph maybe – we send two at him every time and he still had 42.”

After his strong start, Sabonis managed just three points in the second half thanks to a swarming Knicks paint defense that forced him into a 1-5 effort down the stretch. He did extend his double-double streak to 49 straight, grabbing 14 rebounds to go with his 21 points. Fox finished with 20 but was 5-19 from the floor and just 2-11 in the second half including 1-7 in the fourth. Barnes added 16, Murray 11, and Monk 18 off the bench.

Sacramento shot just 35% from the floor and were 10-37 from three, but held the free throw advantage (21-26) for the first time in the past several games. The Knicks defense also held the Kings to just nine fast break points on eight opportunities.

“I thought we tried to push the basketball,” Brown said. “We kept telling them get stops and get out and go. But I thought they did a hell of a job getting back in transition, too. We didn’t have any easy looks in transition when we tried to push the pace. But it was definitely an emphasis of ours to be who we are and push the pace.”

“Outside of JB [Jalen Brunson], we did a great job,” Fox said. “He had almost half their points – so we have to do a better job of guarding their star player – but as a whole defensively, we did a pretty good job. We have to be better on the offensive end – not many games you’re going to win shooting that low of percentages.”

“Defensively, we did enough to win the game, but offensively, we didn’t spray the ball.”

Sacramento will end their home stand with Memphis on Monday night before hitting the road for three straight.

 

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Ellis5
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March 16, 2024 10:32 pm

comment image

Last edited 4 months ago by Ellis5
AnybodyButBagley
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March 16, 2024 10:55 pm

Did anyone watch the defense in the last five minutes?

Wow!

Have the Kings done this before?

Ellis5
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March 17, 2024 12:02 am

Check the game thread… nothing like this has ever happened on this date in time ever. I’m hoping someday you achieve avatar status and that’a when we can start worshipping you.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ellis5
AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 11:13 am
Reply to  Ellis5

I was at the game. Not on the game thread.

The avatar makes you special?

WiltLives
March 18, 2024 10:14 am

Ellis5 is being not a nice guy. Ignore him.

rockbottom
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March 16, 2024 11:15 pm

Playoff defense and Knicks had the best player by a lot . Thibs sent a good message hope it was received .

Daydreamer
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March 18, 2024 7:31 am
Reply to  rockbottom

Brunson was the best player in that game. If they played again, the performances of Fox and Brunson could be reversed. Long season.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 18, 2024 10:11 am
Reply to  Daydreamer

Fox puts up 40 plus and plays defense?

Amonk81
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March 16, 2024 11:18 pm

To me, this was disappointing amd expected. A game with playoff type D and intensity -and the Kings do their shrinking act. Like last year in the playoffs.

Disappointed that the Kings saw all these issues last year but failed to do much if anything about it. they are still not constituted to win playoffs hoops.

Sabonis continues to dominate in regular season but not when it matters. He completely spazzes out-doesn’t think-forces shit at the end of games and he did it again tonight. I mean- calm down dude. Breath.

Disappointing/expected. We need Sabs to fix these issues in playoffs/big games. I was hoping to see improvement tonight but did not. Same old playoff losing hoops in end.

RikSmits
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March 16, 2024 11:37 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

I mean, he wasn’t good but I find it strange to single out Domas when Keegan, Barnes and Fox were terrible on offense, Fox especially in the 4th. And Huerter was a non-factor. And as much as I like Keon, he was far from perfect.

Also, we fought hard on defense but weren’t particularly good at it. Brunson mostly got whatever he wanted and several of his teammates bricked wide open 3’s.

Brown insisting on these spray threes while ignoring that nobody shot well from outside has me worried. It seems that he’s a system coach who’s not very adept at adapting when the need rises.

Amonk81
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March 17, 2024 11:31 am
Reply to  RikSmits

I wasn’t singling him out I just lost energy and didn’t point out Huerter as a non factor etc. Brown. But Sabs is supposed to be the dominants force and how their O runs.

but my point was-this was the problem in playoffs. D and 1/2 court O. Heurter stinks- and the DHO gets taken away. So now Sabonis is meh at best on O. He’s supposed to be a building block/badass but disappeared in playoffs essentially and last night too.

So, the O needs to adjust when DHO taken away. Sabonis has not gotten better at that yet, Nor has the team. Brown isn’t adjusting, Hierter etc not stepping up.

It’s the same shit we knew from last year playoffs and yet nothing has changed. Been done.

rockbottom
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March 17, 2024 5:48 am
Reply to  Amonk81

Sabonis is about number 5 on problems in this game . He had little responsibility for Brunson who was the difference .

Amonk81
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March 17, 2024 11:33 am
Reply to  rockbottom

It’s not about this single game. It’s about the Kings becoming contenders. In this test of playoff type ball they showed they aren’t. And I don’t think they will be until new people are brought in.

But I’m also concerned that Sabs doesn’t have a playoff winning style.

TheGrantNapear
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March 17, 2024 6:11 am
Reply to  Amonk81

You’re not permitted to be critical of Domas on this forum. Haven’t you learned that yet? And he is not the reason we lost to the duds last year.

RikSmits
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March 17, 2024 6:52 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Actually he is permitted to be critical about Domas here. And I am permitted to respond to it, with arguments. It is called a discussion. And again, I don’t say that Domas was great.

Complaining wrongfully that something isn’t permitted is disingenuous.

Amonk81
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March 17, 2024 11:36 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Right, and as I stated above, this isn’t about a single game.

This is about seeing the Kings and Sabonis haven’t showed they can play playoff winning hoops as constituted.

I was hoping to see Sabonis or Brown adjust enough but they have not.

So, I’m concerned they’re stuck and won’t go further until new people come in or adjustments are
made. Or maybe you can’t go far with these guys?

RikSmits
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March 17, 2024 12:26 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

Yeah, those are valid concerns.

I agree that Brown’s coaching style seems more suited to the regular season than the playoffs. Maybe that’s a matter of playing a style that suits his roster, and then that also falls into Monte’s lap (which is the case, in any event). I hope Brown has got some cards up his sleeve for the postseason.

I find it difficult to take much away from Sabonis’ play-oiff series against the Warriors. he was injured and they gameplanned specifically against him and he got exposed defensively by horrible PoA defense of others.

Also here, it is mainly up to Brown to avoid the same issues there, and also up to Sabonis to execute. He really needs to shoot from outside to avoid the crowding in the paint. But there must also be structured movement withoiut the ball by the others.

rockbottom
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March 17, 2024 12:18 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

This team is not a contender due to several factors that come well before any Sabonis consensus . Jokic and Embid aren’t walking through that door .

Marty
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March 16, 2024 11:32 pm

Knicks interior defense made all the difference.

KingsSince85
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March 16, 2024 11:47 pm

I had guests over tonight… Did Domas get hit in the face at least once, but perhaps twice in the second or third to last possessions in the game (a quite pivotal possession) and the refs opted to NOT blow the whistle? I did see that, right?

Last edited 4 months ago by KingsSince85
ForKingsandCountry
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March 16, 2024 11:59 pm

The Kings played hard but in the end the result was the same as it is against all the physical teams who beat you up. With a loss. This team just doesn’t seem equipped to beat these teams.

RikSmits
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March 17, 2024 12:16 am

The fact that they stressed the physicallity so much postgame and said how good it was to deal with it only emphasizes that this is not a physical team.

With the possible exception of Len and Domas, none of our guys are in the least bit physically imposing. I mean, Sabonis deals out as much punishment as he receives, but he doesn’t have the rep of an enforcer.

We’re too nice. Which is nice, I guess.

TheGrantNapear
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March 17, 2024 6:13 am
Reply to  RikSmits

As the saying goes, nice guys finish last.

Amonk81
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March 17, 2024 11:38 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Overall, this is about playing playoff winning hoops.

In playoffs it’s D and 1/2 court O. Pace/fast break ain’t shot.

Kings are lacking in both.

ForKingsandCountry
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March 17, 2024 8:59 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Yeah I think we just need a couple guys who are willing to mix it up. I think Trey Lyles may be the guy who does that the most but he’s obviously out for a while now. This team needs to get bigger and more physical in the offseason. It’s not anything we didn’t already know but I figured Monte would have done something to address it over the last year or so.

Ellis5
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March 17, 2024 12:06 am

comment image

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 7:33 pm
Reply to  Ellis5

?

RikSmits
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March 17, 2024 12:54 am

IT signed a ten day contract with the Suns after shooting 25-of-56 (44.6%) from 3 in the G-league. I hope he succeeds in finding a regular rotation spot on a decent team next season.

DutchKingsFanInUK
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March 17, 2024 1:33 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Hope the Kings sign Alex Oriakhi to a ten day as well!

RikSmits
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March 17, 2024 1:36 am

comment image

TheGrantNapear
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March 17, 2024 6:14 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Shows how desperate the Suns are for rotation players.
Will be fun to see what IT has left in the tank. That random season with the C’s seems like forever ago.

rockbottom
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March 17, 2024 12:31 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

He had two All Star seasons there and a 3rd in MVP vote . No King has had that kind of season . Scored 52 in a game 7 win and on a bad hip which may have ended his career . The little Pizza Guy deserved better.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
March 17, 2024 9:13 am
Reply to  RikSmits

He is not playoff eligible, right?

HongKongKingsFan
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March 17, 2024 1:31 am

I don’t remember how many offensive rebound the Knicks grabbed….

and that generated lot of 2nd chance points….

Hartenstein is a freaking huge dude, and he gave Sabonis lots of troubles…..

It just sucks that Murray and Huerter not able to hit those “wide wide open” 3….

Amonk81
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March 17, 2024 11:42 am

Yes. Yet another issue. Huerter stinks-and doesn’t make up for it w clutch shots. Keegan, I hope will learn but he leaves the game mentally far too often.

I don’t know if this is a coaching adjustment. Fix the O so Keegs gets more sets?

Esentially, if Fox doesn’t go off in 4th quarters they can’t win.

Not to mention Fox and Sabonis are shitty at free throw line.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 7:35 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

ISO Fox was shut down in the fourth. Forced the ball into the paint for Domas and the entire Knicks roster simply dropped into the paint and destroyed him.

DutchKingsFanInUK
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March 17, 2024 1:42 am

Disappointing result in a pretty interesting game. Knicks imposed their identity on this game and the Kings struggled to overcome it.

TheGrantNapear
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March 17, 2024 6:16 am

Brunson is something else.
Amazing that the Mavs passed on giving him 4/$78 just a few years ago and let him walk…shades of letting Nash walk some two decades prior. Dirk stuck around, will Luka?

Jack
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March 17, 2024 7:18 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

We hold Brunson to 34 and we win. Couldn’t do it. I thought we played and stayed with them until the last of the fourth quarter then it was who wanted it more. Sabonis as good as he is wasn’t a factor in those minutes. Missed 2 free throws and had a couple of really important turnovers. Only scored 3 in the entire second half, My worry was Huerter was non exsistent when out there and Murray after getting that foul by Hart, who by the way seems to be smiling, looked somewhat scared when on the bench. I thought Keon played really good defense and that last lapse when Brunson took it to the hole it seemed to me was looking at the bench. Might not have been his fault but on the coaches. Bad timing. Overall offense was just not there mainly caused by Knick’s defense. Yes it seemed like last years playoff. Somehow we need to fix it and learn from it so maybe we at least make the playoffs.GO KINGS!

Jman1949
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March 17, 2024 9:49 am
Reply to  Jack

Keon’s lapse was the result of a shrewd move by Brunson, who noticed Keon often turning his head to look for screens. Brunson called for a non-existent screener and took off as soon as Keon turned his head to look for it. That was a veteran move on a relatively inexperienced defender.

On the other hand, I noticed Brunson heading over to encourage Keon as soon as the game ended. Seemed like he was impressed with Keon overall.

Jman1949
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March 17, 2024 10:08 am
Reply to  Jman1949

Here’s a clip of the play:

RikSmits
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March 17, 2024 10:12 am
Reply to  Jman1949

That’s a great play but as you pointed out, that also means that Brunson recognized that Keon turns his head way too much. Something he has to improve on.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 11:21 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Do you think the scouts have noticed anything about Ellis?

eddie41
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March 17, 2024 11:44 am

that he dribbled off his own foot in the 4th

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 11:20 am
Reply to  Jman1949

How dare you criticize Ellis?!

Jack
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March 17, 2024 12:50 pm

Everyone makes mistakes even Fox and Sabonis. Even Ellis.

Jman1949
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March 17, 2024 12:53 pm

Criticizing Keon for this mistake doesn’t appreciably diminish my optimism that he can be a contributor to improving the Kings defense going forward. I haven’t noticed any of my fellow Keon enthusiasts suggesting that he’s the total answer or that he can’t or shouldn’t be criticized.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 10:18 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

Keon made a basic mistake that all new players make. He was taken advantage of by an NBA player with a high basketball IQ.

Keon might get there. His two game performance is nothing to determine what he is. Hopefully he is the next Wilt Chamberlain.

Jack
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March 17, 2024 12:47 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

I see that now. Thanks.

eddie41
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March 17, 2024 9:28 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

in a game being called like last night’s game, I’m wondering if Davion can try Brunson’s fullback block move. it’s not his style, but he’s probably stronger and can hit the middy.

eddie41
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March 17, 2024 11:12 am
Reply to  eddie41

maybe Keegan could experiment with Brunson’s fullback block move also in a game like that.

Timmy_13
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March 17, 2024 10:06 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

It’s even worse than that. He was going to sign for 4/$55M

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 11:18 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Ellis owned Brunson.

rockbottom
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March 17, 2024 12:33 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Cuban let Nash go under similar circumstances . Opps

UpgradedToQuestionable
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March 17, 2024 7:09 am

Being unable to score the last half of the 4th, Brunson, and the offense from Burks and Bogdanovic were major factors.

Being outrebounded, and the absence of offense – when have the Kings won when scoring less than 100? completed the deal.

16 minutes of Red Velvet and no points, 1 rebound, 2 assists is not a starter level contribution. Keon played 29+ min and that isn’t likely to change with those numbers.

Sac showed gritty toughness tonight, just came up short.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 11:22 am

Sac was steam rolled in the last eight minutes. The grit and toughness vanished.

Amonk81
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March 17, 2024 11:49 am

Right. Because the Kings don’t have playoff winning style or enough players, as we saw last year.

Again, why it’s so frustrating they didn’t nothing about it.

Last playoffs-Huerter stinks. They can really defend when needed. Keegan gets lost. Sabonis can’t score when take away DHO-and panics with turnovers/forces shit. Davion can’t shoot. Brown doesn’t adjust. The most goes on.

Same shit last night. Unfortunately, this is who the Kings are until they make moves.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 2:11 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

Real moves. Not signing G league players to appease the fanboys.

Jack
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March 17, 2024 12:52 pm

Huerter is out there to score points. Which he didn’t. Ellis is out there to play defense. Which he did.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 5:18 pm
Reply to  Jack

Brunson vs. Ellis

Did you watch the game?

Is Ellis the next Davion but not able to shut down an opponent?

Is it not typical for a decent team to defend and score?

This team is either racing to 140 hoping the other team only scores 135; or keeping the other team at 90 while only scoring 60.

Jack
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March 18, 2024 9:12 am

IMO Ellis is just as good or better than Mitchell. Really good hands and wing span and his height is a plus’ He can also shoot. Give him a reasonable chance and see what happens. I’ll bet you will be surprised.

AnybodyButBagley
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March 18, 2024 10:16 am
Reply to  Jack

Just as good or better than a guard that cannot score and is being replaced by G league and two way players.

Winning!

eddie41
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March 17, 2024 8:09 am

missed Keegan in the closing minutes. recalling the number of times he has followed up a teammate’s missed shot with a tip-out to another teammate leading to a Kings bucket and win. he makes plays. he’s a guy you want on the court at the end.

Amonk81
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March 17, 2024 11:51 am
Reply to  eddie41

I do think Keegan can amd has made big shots. Same for Monk and Fox. But that’s probably it.

eddie41
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March 17, 2024 12:15 pm
Reply to  Amonk81

they have a lot of shot makers … but relatively speaking, yeah Fox and Monk tend to do it more often.

Jack
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March 17, 2024 12:55 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Played OK defense just couldn’t manage any offense.

NowLoveThemOnceAgain
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March 17, 2024 12:05 pm

Live by the 3, die by the 3. Kings need more inside offense aside from Sabonis. Give Knicks credit–they took the Kings out of their offense, and limited second chance opportunities.

Jack
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March 17, 2024 1:08 pm

Murray as a starter is the only other rebounder that is consistent. Barnes is big enought but doesn’t rebound well at all. Lyles can rebound but isn’t a starter. I to believe the Knick’s offensive rebounding had a lot to do with the King’s loss.

jwalker1395
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March 17, 2024 2:05 pm

Surprised by the doom and gloom. That was a high level game played by both teams and either would’ve deserved the win. Hat tip to the Knicks defense and Jalen Brunson who is freaking awesome.

I was really impressed with the defensive effort, shots just weren’t falling when they were needed. Oh well. My view is that if the Kings play like that through the rest of the season, they’re gonna win more often than not.

Now is when the schedule softens up a bit. I’d like to see 3 straight wins against Mem, Tor, and Was. If they are the sixth seed over PHX, this is where they prove it. I have no qualms about losing a tough game against a tough team. But no more missing gimmees.

Jman1949
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March 17, 2024 3:54 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

I think we have a good chance of finishing ahead of the Suns, given the difficulty of their remaining schedule. However, the Mavs beating the Nuggets today puts them in a virtual tie with us and the Suns, and the Mavs remaining schedule is second easiest in the league. It could come down to the two games we play against the Mavs here at home later this month.

Dan Houlder
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March 18, 2024 1:01 am
Reply to  jwalker1395

I am never surprised by the doom and gloom.

RikSmits
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March 17, 2024 3:04 pm

Wow. Kyrie Irving. Damn!

AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 7:41 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

A religious experience.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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Nostradumbass 18
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March 17, 2024 9:48 pm

It was out of this (flat) world.

Last edited 4 months ago by Klam
AnybodyButBagley
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March 17, 2024 10:13 pm
Reply to  Klam

He definitely pushed it to the edge.

SelecaoKOJ
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March 17, 2024 9:11 pm

No Randle and no Robinson. Not really impressed. This team rarely beats big dogs(outside of young OKC) unless the other team is missing key players Tonite they played a team that commit to D on the daily.

Jman1949
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March 18, 2024 9:51 am
Reply to  SelecaoKOJ

I guess you must have been at least a little impressed with beating the T-Wolves when Fox was out for the whole game vs Ant for just the second half; and the Bucks when Keegan was out; and the L****s when Huerter was out!

WiltLives
March 18, 2024 10:13 am

Since Sabonis rarely wants to try to block shots, it is overdue that we get a big power forward who does want to protect the rim and can get tough rebounds and is a decent shooter. Not a 6’8″ 215 lbs PF, but a 6’10” 245 lbs animal.

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