Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) takes it to the hoop against Sacramento Kings guards Davion Mitchell (15) and Terence Davis (3) at the Golden One Center in Sacramento on Mon Nov 8, 2021 (AP News photo)
by Marko Ukalovic
SACRAMENTO—One quarter can make or break a team.
For the Sacramento Kings, it was a horrendous third quarter doomed them in a 109-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday evening at Golden 1 Center.
Sacramento have lost three out of its past five games. Phoenix has won a season best five games in a row after starting the season 1-3.
Sacramento (5-6) were without the services of guard Tyrese Haliburton who was out with lower back tightness.
Phoenix (6-3) were without their star center DeAndre Ayton who was out with a lower leg contusion.
The Kings got off to slow start for its second consecutive game. The Suns opened the game on a 12-4 run led by the backcourt duo of Chris Paul and Devon Booker who combined for 10 of the 12 points.
Sacramento were able to get back into the game thanks for forward Harrison Barnes’ eight points to pace the Kings in the second quarter.
Phoenix finished the first quarter on a 7-2 run as they led 34-28. Cameron Payne had nine points off the bench in the opening 12 minutes.
Davian Mitchell gave the Kings its first lead of the game with a mid-range jumper with eight minutes left in the second quarter to put Sacramento up 42-21.
Sacramento found their rhythm in the second quarter as they outscored Phoenix 36-33 to close the gap to three points as they were down 67-64 at halftime.
Point guard DeAaron Fox, who had a quiet first quarter, responded by scoring 10 points in the second quarter. Terrence Davis had a strong half with 11 points and Buddy Hield scored eight points in the second quarter.
Payne paced the Suns with 17 points in the first half as he was the only Phoenix player in double digits at halftime.
The Kings played their worst third quarter of the season. A combination of poor shooting a multiple turnovers allowed the defending Western Conference champions to take control of the game and pull away from Sacramento.
The Suns started the quarter on a 14-0 run aided by four Kings turnovers. Sacramento’s first points of the quarter were a Mitchell layup with 6:52 left. Phoenix outscored Sacramento 31-12 and ended the quarter with a comfortable 98-76 lead. Fox and Hield provided no offense for the Kings.
“We let them get easy shots, easy looks and offensive rebounds,” said Mitchell. “We didn’t play with (any sort of) pace in the third quarter.”
The Suns scored 38 points off of 24 Kings turnovers, 10 of them in the third quarter. They had more fast break points than Kings (15-13) and their bench outscored Sacramento’s 48-33.
Kings head coach Luke Walton emptied his bench in the fourth quarter as he had seen enough watching his starters perform badly after a good first half. He had Mitchell, Chimezie Metu and Damian Jones play the entire fourth quarter along Fox and Barnes.
“What I’m most disappointed in is wasted opportunities,” said Walton. “We let Phoenix take us out of what we’re doing (as a team). We gave in. So at that point, we might as well not even play and stay here and have a practice we how we came out in that third quarter.”
Phoenix allowed the Kings back in the game playing isolation ball on offense for the entire fourth quarter. The Kings stepped up their defense and got the game to under single digits.
Sacramento were able to cut the lead to 105-100 with 2:36 left in the game.
We loved the fight that the group showed, the bench. Unfortunately it took the bench to come in and do that.”
Barnes scored a layup on what was originally called a blocking foul with 1:12 left that would’ve cut the lead to one point. Suns head coach Earl Watson challenged and the call it was overturned after review with Barnes earning the offensive foul and turnover.
Still the Kings had a chance to force overtime when Booker missed two free throws with 7.4 seconds. The ensuing play ended up with a fatal turnover that led to Paul sealing the deal with two free throws to ice the game for Phoenix.
Payne led all scorers with 24 points off the bench. Booker had 18 points on 8-15 from the floor. Mikal Bridges and Paul finished with 16 points.
Barnes led the Kings with 26 points to go along with six rebounds but committed a team high six turnovers. Fox had 24 points with five turnovers. Mitchell finished with 12 points and six rebounds in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: Robert Woodward II was out with a hamstring injury for Sacramento and Dario Saric did not play for Phoenix with a knee injury.
Sacramento finished 5-7 in Pacific Division games and 16-20 at home last season. The Kings averaged 113.8 points per game while allowing opponents to score 117.6 last season.
Phoenix went 51-20 overall and 30-12 in Western Conference play during the 2020-21 season. The Suns averaged 7.2 steals, 4.3 blocks and 12.0 turnovers per game last season.
The two teams played for the second time this season. The Kings defeated the Suns 110-107 in their last meeting on Oct. 28. Buddy Hield led the Kings with 26 points, and Devin Booker led the Suns with 31 points.
UP NEXT: Sacramento begins a four-game road trip on Wednesday 11/10 as they take on the San Antonio Spurs at 5:30pm at AT&T Center.