by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings broke up a three-game losing streak on Sunday by devouring the hapless Chicago Bulls 129-102 before a delighted sellout crowd at the Golden 1 Center. After returning home from a very disappointing four-game road trip that saw the team pick up just one victory, the young Kings were in need of something to put a smile back on their faces. There were plenty of smiles after the game on St. Patrick’s Day.
Kings head coach Dave Joerger said, “… they do work so hard, it’s fun to see them get the result that does make them feel good.”
The teams played a tough first quarter that saw seven lead changes and four ties. It appeared that the Bulls had arrived ready to put up a fight on Sunday.
Sacramento was trailing 23-21 with 6.7-seconds to go in the first quarter. Bogdan Bogdanovic brought the ball up the court while watching the clock, took a step back behind the 3-point line, and sank a 26-foot shot to give the Kings a 24-23 lead at the end of the first period.
The Kings would never trail in the game again.
Why did the Kings win?
- Sacramento was ready for a win, and they came out willing to work for it. Dave Joerger revealed after the game that their plan was to work the for a shot in the paint early in the possession (four to six seconds) then start looking for open shots outside if layups were not available. The Kings outscored the Bulls 80-56 in the paint.
- The Kings shot the basketball very well in the contest. They shot 52.4-percent (54/103) overall and 34.8-percent (8/23) from 3-point land. They also converted 13-of-16 (81.2%) or their free throw attempts. Poor free throw shooting had hurt them on the road trip.
- The Kings also banged on the boards. Sacramento out-rebounded Chicago 48-39. They also outdid their opponent on the offensive glass 15-10. The Kings scored 23 2nd chance points to 15 for the Bulls.
- Sacramento continued to take very good care of the basketball as they turned it over just 12 times (13 CHI points) while the Bulls turned it over 20 times (25 SAC points).
- Marvin Bagley III played an amazing 21-minutes of basketball (we believe the minutes restriction from his knee injury is still in place). He scored a game-high 21-points by shooting 9-for-14 from the field and going a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. MB35 also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out two assists.
- The other young big – Harry Giles III – also played 21-minutes. H20 scored 16 points while shooting 8-for-14 in the contest. He also hauled in six rebounds, added three assists and blocked three shots.
- And those other guys: De’Aaron Fox scored 17 points, Buddy Hield, 16, Harrison Barnes 15, Willey Cauley-Stein 9, Bjelica 8, and Bogdanovic 8.
- All 13 players on the active roster saw playing in the game on Sunday.
- Zach LaVine was the leading scorer for the Bulls with 18 points. You may remember that Kings tried to get LaVine in the off-season, but the Bulls matched the Sacramento offer to keep talented guard in Chicago.
- The real star for the Bulls is “tankathon”. Chicago is 19-52 on the season and their real goal is to finish with the best chance to get the number one pick in the NBA Draft Lottery in June. Right now, they have the fourth worst record in the league and have a 12.5-percent chance in Zion Williamson sweepstakes. It is tough to be too motivated when you know your team’s goal is to be “the biggest loser”.
The Kings record improved to 34-35 after the win on Sunday. That is most wins for Sacramento since back in 2007-08 when the team won 38 games. The prognosticators at FiveThirtyEight.com predict that the Kings will win 39 games this season.
The Kings are off until Tuesday night when they will face the much improved and playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets at the Golden 1 Center.
Chicago traveled to Phoenix after the game and will play the pesky Suns on Monday night.