Photo credit: @SacramentoKings
By Jessica Kwong
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Sacramento Kings were in rhythm in the first half to beat the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and win their third straight game, but fell apart in the second half to lose 123-94.
“It was a tough game for us,” Kings head coach Dave Joerger said postgame. “I thought we had a nice rhythm in the first half. We made a lot of mistakes in the first half but we were making some shots.”
Buddy Hield scored a triple for the Kings to start but the team played poor defense, allowing the Nets to get off with a 14-7 lead with 12 of those points coming in the paint. Brooklyn’s young star D’Angelo Russell made a triple to put the Nets up 26-20 with a minute to go. Bogdan Bogdanovic made a driving shot but Russell hit another three-pointer to put the Nets up 29-23 to end the quarter.
Sacramento had a solid second quarter offensively, scoring 37 points.
Russell hit another three-point jump shot, but Justin Jackson answered with a triple of his own and Bogdanovic made a pulp shot to tie the game at 32 a few minutes into the quarter. Then Yogi Ferrell made a triple to give the Kings a 35-32 lead.
Brooklyn took a one-point lead halfway through the quarter when Alan Williams made a slam dunk. Bogdanovic followed up with a jump shot and the teams went back and forth with the lead until the final minutes. Buddy Hield made a triple to give the Kings a 60-55 lead to end the half.
“The last three, four minutes of the second quarter we were much better defensively and we just didn’t come out with that same intensity in the second half,” Joerger said.
He said the game started to get away from the Kings “about three minutes into the third quarter.”
Russell, who was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week, made a pullup shot, then stole the ball, missed and running layup but rebounded and made a triple to put the Nets up 66-64. Sacramento called a timeout with just over 9 minutes left in the quarter.
It didn’t help much. At the halfway mark, the Nets were up 77-70 and seemed to have more hustle. By the two-minute mark, Brooklyn extended their lead to 88-78. Harry Giles III made a cutting layup but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made a cutting dunk to give the Nets a 93-85 lead at the end of the third.
Sacramento failed to regroup in the fourth. A minute in, DeMarre Carroll made three-point jump shot to boost the Nets to 98-85, a 13-point and biggest lead of the game. The Kings took a timeout. Spencer Dinwiddie made a running layup, putting Brooklyn up 100-87 with 10 minutes left to play.
The Kings were unable to cut the deficit to single digits for the remainder of the game, instead trailing up to 29 points when the game ended.
“It was a blow-by, a backdoor, a couple turnovers and Brooklyn’s in a really nice rhythm right now,” Joerger said. “They’ve got guys making shots, but they put it on the deck and they get to the rim. They’re playing really well and they’re difficult to defend, so hats off to them.”
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said he was most proud of his team’s “excellent” defense in the second half.
“I thought TG’s (Treveon Graham) job on Buddy Hield was fantastic,” Atkinson said. “I don’t think he scored in the second half. He was a real concern for us but great job on him and great defensive performance.”
Bogdanovic scored a team-leading 22 points, Justin Jackson had 14 points, Willie Cauley-Stein had 12 points and Hield had 11 points. Jackson said he appreciated time to play with the starters.
“For him to feel confident enough to put me out there on the floor, for one, helps a lot,” Jackson said of Joerger. “For him to put me in different types of situations is definitely big because then I know I can just go out there and play because then I know he has the confidence in me.”
Sacramento is now 24-23 and 10th in the Western Conference. They continue their road trip on Tuesday and face the Toronto Raptors (35-13). Tipoff is at 4 p.m. PST.