by Charlie O. Mallonee
Sacramento — At the end of three quarters on Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings held a 25 point lead over the visiting Brooklyn Nets, 103-78. The Kings largest lead of the night had been 28 points. All of the fans in the Golden 1 Center were settling in and getting ready for some “Showtime” basketball in the final period. Things did not go as planned.
The Nets – behind an incredible 27-point scoring barrage by D’Angelo Russell – outscored the Kings 45-18 the fourth quarter to end a three-game losing streak and defeat Sacramento 123-121. The stunned sellout crowd left the arena trying to figure out how the Kings allowed what appeared to be a sure victory to become such agonizing defeat.
This was just the fourth time in the NBA shot clock era that a team has come back to win after trailing by 25 points through three quarters. That is not the kind of stain you want to have on your season if you are the Kings.
Why Did the Kings Lose?
- The took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. The looked at the scoreboard, saw a 25 point lead and relaxed. After all, there was no chance the Nets were going to mount a comeback down by that many points.
- Sacramento did not hustle back on defense. D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made them pay for that as the two Nets combined for 39 points in the final quarter. Russell hit 10-of-15 shots including four 3-point baskets. Hollis-Jefferson was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field in the fourth quarter.
- The Kings also shot horribly in the final stanza. They connected on just 5-of-22 attempts (22.7%) and went 0-for-8 from behind the 3-point line. They also turned the ball over seven times which resulted in six Brooklyn points.
- Marvin Bagley III was the Kings top scorer with 28 points. He shot 12-for-15 in the game and went 2-for-2 from 3-point range. Bagley has been working on adding the 3-point shot to allow him to become a true “stretch four”. Bagley also played just over 29 minutes. That is the most playing time he has seen since returning from his knee sprain.
- De’Aaron Fox added 27 points as he hit 10-of-20 shots from the field. Fox went 2-for-5 from downtown. The point guard dished out nine assists and made four rebounds in almost 35 minutes of playing time.
- Harrison Barnes put up 17 points, added seven rebounds and played just over 38 minutes in the loss.
- Buddy Hield did not have a “Buddy Buckets” type game. He scored just eight points shooting 4-for-13 overall while going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc. His off night was not the cause of the Kings loss.
- SAC shot 51.6-percent (49/95) for the contest. They sank 9-of-25 (36.0%) of their 3-point attempts.
- The Kings went 14-for-20 (70%) from the free throw line. Both the percentage and number of attempts are a little low.
- The turnover to assists ratio was awful. The Kings made 25 assists but they turned the ball over 21 times. That missed the desired 2:1 ratio by a “country mile”.
- Sacramento was outscored in the paint 68-64. The Kings usually own the paint when they win.
- The Kings are now 34-36 for the season. They are 7.0 games out of the eighth-place and the final playoff slot in the Western Conference with 12 games to play.
- D’Angelo Russell was the games leading scorer with 44 points. He shot 17-for-33 from the floor and connected on 6-of-15 from downtown. Russell made it a double-double by distributing 12 “dimes”. He made four steals. Hey Lakers, Mr. Russell is a Restricted Free Agent in the off-season. Maybe you should make a play for the one you traded away.
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench when it looked like it was going to be “mop-up” time and wound up scoring the winning bucket. He scored 14 points in just under 17 minutes on the floor. Hollis-Jefferson went 6-for-7 shooting from the field.
- Jared Dudley scored six points in the contest. Why is that significant? All six points came in the fourth quarter when all the points were scored by three players – Russell, Hollis-Jefferson, and Dudley.
- The Nets shot 50.0-percent (47/94) from the floor and hit 12-of-35 (34.3%) attempts from 3-point land.
- Brooklyn hit 17-of-23 (73.9%) of their shots from the charity stripe.
- BKN recorded 28 assists and committed 18 turnovers. The TOV’s were too high but they made it work.
- They made 16 steals versus 13 for SAC.
- The Nets blocked four Kings shots. The Kings recorded only one blocked shot.
- The Nets are now 37-36 on the season and one-half game back of sixth-place Detroit in the Eastern Conference.
The Kings will return to action on Thursday when the Dallas Mavericks come to Sacramento for a 7:00 PM tipoff. This will be a chance for Sacramento fans to see rookie Luka Doncic and possibly see Dirk Nowitzki for the final time.
Brooklyn will continue their seven-game road trip on Friday night in Los Angeles when they will take on the Lakers.