Photo credit: @SacramentoKings
By Jeremiah Salmonson
The Sacramento Kings have been struggling. That’s no secret. They haven’t started the season the way they wanted to and are were on a three game skid. Things didn’t get easier either as the Kings took on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center on Sunday. Tip-off was set for 4 PM PST.
In the first quarter, the Kings came out strong. Nemanja Bjelica and Buddy Hied both came out shooting very well. Nemanja up 12 in the first and Buddy dropped 11 on the Mavs defense. The Kings also played lock down defense in the first. The Mavs were able to put up 27 points in the first. However, that doesn’t accurately depict the quality of the defense by the Kings. The score going into the second was 36-27 Kings.
In the second quarter, the Kings came out just as strong as the first quarter. This had been arguably the best half of basketball the Kings had played l year. The Kings continued to get good looks off screens and ball movement while holding the Mavericks and Luka Doncic down on defense. Leading the Kings in scoring for the first half was Buddy Hield with 18 points. The leading scorer for the Mavericks in the first half was Tim Hardaway Jr. with 17 points. Heading into the second half of basketball, the Kings were up 66-46 and looking to finish the job on the road.
In the third quarter, both teams played at a high level. One thing entering the third that the Kings could not do was give up a large run to the Mavs. They didn’t allow that to happen. Even though the Mavs began hitting some of their tough looks they failed to cut significantly into the Kings lead. The Kings started the quarter with a 20-point lead and ended the third with a 14-point lead. The quarter would end with the Kings ahead 92-78. Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to put up big numbers finishing the third with 29 points. Nemanja Bjelica also continued his torrid play finishing the third with 25 points.
In the fourth quarter, it was the Kings game to lose with a 14-point lead. The Kings needed to continue to compete on the defensive end and knock down shots. However, the game got a little dicey late. The Kings, who had done such a good job taking care of the ball in the first three quarters, started being careless. The Kings turned the ball over multiple times leading to easy baskets for the Mavericks. What was a 14-point lead entering the fourth had evaporated into a two-point 108-106 lead with 13.4 seconds left and Dallas ball. In the last possession of regulation for the Mavs, they got the ball to Luka Doncic and he pulled up and missed a jumper. Kings rebounded and were immediately fouled with four seconds left. Kings head coach Luke Walton drew up a great play on the inbound to give Nemanja Bjelica a clear path to the basket and the dunk to seal the win. The Kings won 110-106.
The Kings finish up the Texas swing next with a game against the Houston Rockets on Monday at 5 PM PST.