The Sacramento Kings returned home refreshed after a three-day layoff to face off against the Los Angeles Clippers. This was an intriguing game to pay attention to, as heading into the evening the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the Western Conference (Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies) faced off at the same time as the Kings took the floor in Sacramento.
With the Nuggets making a fourth-quarter rally to defeat the Griz 113-97, the “Light the Beam” Kings have now pushed just one-game back of the No. 2-seeded Grizzlies in the standings after De'Aaron Fox led Sacramento to a 128-127 victory over the Clippers.
Here are my takeaways:
Kings have SWAGGER
There are moments in each Kings' game that have you wondering when will they "turn it on." At times it happens instantly, in others it may take a quarter. But this Sacramento squad never seems to back away from a moment. In this matchup, their swagger came in the second quarter, led by 'Red Velvet' Kevin Huerter (18 points on 6-of-9 shooting). After picking up three fouls in three minutes in the first quarter, Huerter came out on fire when he returned in the second.
Red Velvet – Silky Smooth Decadent pic.twitter.com/BDCVp0v447
— The Kings Herald (@thekingsherald) March 4, 2023
This mojo Sacramento carries itself with is just a site to see on a nightly basis. Malik Monk (4 points, 2 rebounds and 8 assists) just brings a beam (*wink) of energy that also carries this Kings pace off the bench. This was a great team effort win by Sacramento in this nailbitter finish, as six players in their 10-man rotation scored in double-figures.
De'Aaron Fox doesn't get calls
While Fox was fantastic in this win (33 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists) there were multiple missed calls by the refs, especially down the stretch which drew this game close. It's becoming a bit of a trend and it could be something concerning heading into the postseason.
How Fox isn't getting any of these calls is ridiculous. The push off from PG. The body push from Westbrook. The hand swiping while driving. I've seen 6 free throws missed by these refs. It's ridiculous.
— Vince Miracle (@VMCENTER) March 4, 2023
This is definitely something to be monitoring heading down the stretch of the season. Fox gets plenty of contact on all of his drives and because of his speed you see a lot of defenders body bumping him into as he pushes the pace. We all already see the lack of calls for Domantas Sabonis (23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists), so if Fox starts seeing the same lack of calls down the stretch of games we may be seeing more of these nail-biting finishes.
Away from these two keys, this game was just another piece of proof that the Sacramento Kings are on their way to the postseason for the first time in 16 years. The Western Conference is a battle right now and the Kings, along with the Grizzlies and Nuggets, are showing a bit of separation from the rest, but they can't lose their sense of urgency.
Kevin Huerter speaks on the Kings' sense of urgency to compile wins and their ability to score on any given night pic.twitter.com/DpbfMYhOVP
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) March 4, 2023
Sacramento will look to carry their momentum into Saturday's matchup against Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
LIGHT THE BEAM!!!