Not Tyrese!: Haliburton trade shocks Sacramento, Wolves clock the Kings, 134-114

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Kings’ fans already knew they have to patient and resilient, but they certainly didn’t know bidding adieu to their brightest, young star was the harsh addition to that reality.

Their message to the Kings’ organization:

It’s a lot (more) to ask.

Tyrese Haliburton was dealt on Tuesday to Indiana along with Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson for Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb and a second-round pick in 2023.

Throughout the league, the reaction was the same, why move Haliburton, a fan favorite that was a steal as the 12th pick in the 2020 Draft, who had posted career bests in points (38) and assists (17) in separate games in the last two weeks?

Well, the faltering Kings had to move someone, and no other Sacramento player possessed Haliburton’s trade value, reference the fact the move fetched an All-Star in Sabonis, and two quality, veteran additions to the team’s backcourt, which was desperate for a defensive upgrade, which they got.

In addition, Hield’s declining numbers didn’t match his sizeable contract, which has two years remaining, and the 25-year old Sabonis has a far friendlier deal that has him also signed for two more seasons.

But Haliburton is viewed as the most promising player in the deal, and that tilts it towards the Pacers.

The Kings took the floor Tuesday without the three traded players, but also without Richaun Holmes due to personal reasons, and Marvin Bagley, who has a sprained ankle. That left the hosts without much of defensive presence, and the Wolves pounced with 73 first half points, and 22 made threes in the game. The Kings trailed by 11 at the half, and showed life early in the third when they cut the deficit to four, but the Wolves seized control for good at that juncture.

Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 24 points, and Malik Beasley was spectacular off the bench with 21, consisting of seven made threes. Naz Reid added 12, and Jordan McLaughlin added 11, as did Taurean Prince.

Ironically, Beasley has also been the subject of trade speculation with the trade deadline approaching on Thursday at 12:00pm. His play and his words afterwards displayed his focus.

“This is my sixth year in the league, and I’ve been traded before,” he said. “The only thing you can do is control what you can control. … I’d rather be here, but it’s a business, so you can never know what can happen.”

The Kings got 29 from De’Aaron Fox and 21 from Harrison Barnes. Rebounding (49-38 for the Wolves) hurt the Kings, as did their 19 turnovers.

The Kings have dropped 14 of 18 and sit in 13th place in the Western Conference.

The clubs get a quick turnaround and face each other again on Wednesday at the Golden 1 Center.

Shamrock Shakedown: Kings fleeced from the opening tip, lose 128-75 to the Celtics

By Morris Phillips

Down 60 to the Celtics, the Kings rallied to lose by 53.

It’s a story lead that NBA sportswriters get one opportunity in a career to utilize. Think about it. When’s the last time you saw one of the league’s 30 franchises completely disappear from the scoreboard?

December 2. Okay, that night, the emerging Memphis Grizzlies eviscerated the COVID-decimated Thunder, 152-79, which ranks as the biggest blowout in the 75-year history of the league.

But the Kings’ ragged outing at TD Garden in which coach Alvin Gentry said “we basically got our ass kicked,” now ranks as the 25th most lopsided margin of defeat in NBA history. That’s undeniably distinctive… in a negative sense.

“They made shots, we couldn’t make nothing,” Richaun Holmes conceded. “They didn’t have much resistance from us so it was just an old-fashioned whooping.” 

Jaylen Brown scored 15 of his 30 points for the Celtics in the first quarter, which topped the Kings, who trailed 38-13. The margin grew to 33 at halftime, 42 points after three, and briefly hit 60 in the fourth as the Boston reserves took on the appearance of the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Kings were without De’Aaron Fox and elected not to play center Alex Len, but that left them with their other 13 most significant producers who shot 30 percent from the floor and 18 percent from three. Effort, or lack thereof, played a huge role in the thrashing as the Celtics enjoyed a 67-45 advantage on the glass, and every concession was made to insure the Celtics had access to the best available scoring opportunities. The Kings allowed 56 points in the paint, and 17 offensive rebounds to contribute to that cause.

“We had very little ball movement, very low assists and they were able to force us into some tough shots because we were always on the shot clock,” Gentry said.

Josh Richardson needed far less analysis to explain the Celtics’ abundance of easy baskets, which officially produced just 12 fast break points.

“I mean, first the Kings had a tough shooting night,” Richardson said. “I think that’s part of it.”

Actually a big part.

The win is the Celtics second biggest by point margin in their long, winning history. The Kings have actually had three, worse losses in the Sacramento era. The worst was a 150-91 drubbing by the Run TMC Warriors in 1991. They also lost to the Bucks by 56 in 1985, and by 55 to the Suns in April 1989.

The Kings fell to 18-31 on the season, and they’re as many as three games out of the coveted 10th spot in the Western Conference for the first time this season. They’ve dropped 17 of 24, with a game at Atlanta up next on Wednesday night.

Rocket Blast Of Reality: Kings start slow, squander opportunity in 118-112 loss to Houston

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–The NBA’s done its part, providing a postseason format tailored for the Kings’ shortcomings. Now the suffering ballclub has to fall in line, and provide the needed buckets and hard-earned, defensive stops to gain a spot.

Kings are you ready?

Well, not yet.

Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. each scored 23 points, and the Rockets held on for a 118-112 win over the Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Kings fell 10 games below .500 with the loss and, for now, relinquished the coveted 10th spot in the Western Conference to the Spurs.

Buddy Hield led the Kings with 27 points in 30 minutes off the bench, and five others scored in double figures, but the hosts were doomed by a ridiculously poor start in which they trailed 13-0 and 21-5 six minutes in.

Struggling teams blow leads, that’s what they do, and the youthful Rockets followed suit. Their shooting, which topped 65 percent early, dipped to 48 percent at the half. The Kings got to the hoop and kept visiting to lead 60-55 at the half, and maintained a 88-85 advantage after three. Interim coach Alvin Gentry liked his team’s fight, but couldn’t ignore the residual effects of the lackluster start.

“They kept enough of a lead that it puts a lot of pressure on you to score,” Gentry said. “We created some really good shots. It’s just a matter of us knocking them down.”

The disjointed ballgame played in front of empty seats and fans wearing 49ers’ jerseys didn’t gain intensity until leading scorer De’Aaron Fox was ejected with 8:14 remaining. A video review revealed his Flagrant 2 foul for slappin at the ball as Houston’s Garrison Mathews attempted to cruise in for a layup. While Fox could legitimately claim he made a basketball play, Mathews fell awkwardly, landing on his hip with his legs taken from beneath him. Fox departed with 14 points, four rebounds and the Kings suddenly trailing by five.

Tyrese Haliburton was unavailable after it was announced earlier on Sunday that he entered COVID protocols, but the Kings got Richaun Holmes and Damian Jones back after protocols forced both into isolation and physical inactivity for a week. Marvin Bagley III couldn’t go due to shoulder soreness.

The Rockets remain last in the Western Conference but they’ve won three of their last four away from Houston’s Toyota Center. They opened the season with a win at Minneapolis, then lost 10 straight road games. Coach Steven Silas prefers what he sees now: an emerging team with youth, and time on it’s side.

“We’re not a playoff team yet but when we are this is what it’s going to look like,” Silas said. “We’re trying to learn as many lessons as we can. I was proud of them for that.”

The Kings host the Pistons on Wednesday, giving them three, consecutive home games against two of the NBA’s worst teams, but there’s no sweep to show for their scheduling luck.

Jazz Interpretation: Utah wins a close one at home, beats the Kings 119-113

By Morris Phillips

If you’re the Sacramento Kings, now 15 seasons removed from a playoff appearance, a trip to Utah to face the Jazz, the reigning champions of the regular season, turned out to be a good place to start if postseason play is still the goal.

While the Kings fell short, and dropped to 3-4 on the season, they played well enough to disrupt a Jazz team that’s now won 58 of their previous 79 regular season games, easily the best mark in the NBA dating back to the beginning of the truncated ’19-’20 season.

The Kings came up empty in the game’s final five minutes, losing a back-and forth contest 119-113 in which neither team held a double-digit lead. The Kings effectively put the Jazz on their heels by limiting their trademark made threes, but ultimately couldn’t respond as the home team dominated the glass, and picked up their defensive intensity down the stretch.

Essentially, a 7-0 run by the Jazz decided it, after the Kings’ Richaun Holmes hit a short jumper to tie the game at 104. After a two-minute scoreless drought, the Kings trailed 111-104 with 2:27 remaining.

A key sequence in the deciding run was a foul on Utah’s Rudy Gobert that was challenged by the Jazz, and overturned upon video review. The ensuing jump ball saw Holmes whistled for a violation, which awarded the ball to the Jazz. Ten seconds later, Donovan Mitchell scored on a driving layup to put the home team up five. After a Holmes miss, Gobert capped the surge by the Jazz with a pair of made free throws.

Mitchell led the Jazz with 36 points, and Mike Conley contributed 30. The dynamic Utah backcourt combined for 25 made baskets including 11 threes. Bogdan Bogdanovich had 20 for Utah.

The Kings were led by Harrison Barnes with 23 points. Buddy Hield was next with 19 points off the bench, but he was hit with two technical fouls and ejected with less than a second remaining.

Davion Mitchell, the rookie, had 18 as seven of the eight Kings to see action scored in double figures. Still the initial NBA meeting of the D. Mitchells went to the veteran.

“He hit shots. He hit tough shots. You can’t really do anything about that,” said Davion Mitchell of Donovan Mitchell.

The Jazz enjoyed a 58-39 advantage on the glass. That disparity helped off set an unusually poor shooting night from distance for Utah, in which they missed 34 3-point attempts.

“I love the fight of our team,” Kings coach Bill Walton said. “It’s really fun coaching these guys. We’re learning these hard lessons. I hope we figure it out soon, but the details of the game is what’s costing us right now. Tonight, it was defensive rebounding.”

The Kings return home on Wednesday to face the New Orleans Pelicans, the start of a four-game home stand.

The Kings make it rain in Portland to get a big 123-111 win on Saturday night

Photo: Richaun Holmes returned to the Kings lineup on Saturday night @NBCS

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Where were you on December 8, 2012? The Sacramento Kings were in Portland and that was the last time they won a basketball game in “Rip City” until Saturday night. After suffering 12 consecutive losses over seven-plus years in Portland, the Sacramento Kings broke the curse and beat the Trail Blazers on their homecourt 123-111.

Playoff implications

The Trail Blazers (28-37) and Kings (28-35) are both fighting to jump into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. That slot is currently held by the Memphis Grizzlies who have not been able to distance themselves from the Kings, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Spurs and even the Suns who have a real chance to qualify for the playoffs.

This was the final meeting of the season between the Kings and the Blazers. The teams split the series 2-2.

The Kings started fast

The Kings started the game like a “Top Fuel” dragster. Harrison Barnes led the way scoring 11 points in the first quarter that saw Sacramento outscore Portland 40-24.

The Kings shot 55.2-percent (16-for-29) overall in the period and went 5-for-9 (55.6%) from behind the 3-point line. They dished out 11 assists in the first 12 minutes while making five steals. SAC was simply overwhelming.

The train kept rolling in the second quarter

The Kings did not cool off in the second period. Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic decided it was time “to make it rain” 3-pointers. The two shooting guards combined to hit 7-of-8 shots from downtown. As a team, Sacramento shot 9-for-12 (75%) from behind the arc.

The Kings outscored the Blazers 37-30 in the quarter.

Hield put up 14 points while Bogdanovic added 11.

At halftime, Sacramento held a 77-54 lead over Portland.

The Trail Blazers did just roll over and quit

When you have CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard on your team, you are never out of contention as long as there is time on the clock. Portland did not get hot, but they did play better than the Kings in the third quarter.

Sacramento cooled off in the third stanza as might have been expected. They shot 6-for-21 (28.6%) from the field; however, five of those baskets came from 3-point land.

Portland won the quarter 26-23, but the Kings still held a 100-80 lead after 36 minutes of play.

Wave the white flag

The Kings opened the final quarter by going on an 8-2 run that broke the Trail Blazers back. Portland tried to get back into the game, but it was too late.

Terry Stotts emptied his bench and the reserves played with vigor, but it was a futile effort.

The Kings won the game 123-111.

Top Performers

Leading scorers

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic was the game’s leading scorer with 27 points
  • Hassan Whiteside and CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 19 points each

Glass cleaners

  • Whiteside was the top rebounder with 11 grabs to give him a double-double
  • Richaun Holmes – who supplied some much-needed energy to the Kings – hauled in eight rebounds

Dropping dimes

  • De’Aaron Fox made it a double-double game by dishing out 11 assists in the contest
  • Lillard and McCollum led Portland with six assists each

Up next

The Kings jumped on their plane and flew back to Sacramento where they will host the defending NBA Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.

Portland will be off until Tuesday when they will host the Phoenix Suns.




Sacramento Kings podcast with Charlie O: Heild chalks winning three point contest off bucket list

photo from The Sacramento Kings Buddy Heild takes aim as he came out the winner of the All Star game three point shooting contest in Chicago Sunday

On the Kings podcast with Charlie O:

#1 Who would have ever expected that the Sacramento Kings Buddy Heild would win the three point contest at the All Star game in Chicago

#2 It took 108 shots for Heild to beat the Phoenix Suns Devin Booker, Heild hit four of five shots to get past Booker to win it.

#3 What does it mean for the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings organization for Heild to win the three point contest at the All Star game.

#4 “Like I said earlier, as a shooter, this is on your bucket list. You have to come in, and you want to win a 3-point shootout. With a stacked field like that, it makes it even better” said Heild after the contest.

#5 The Kings host the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night at Golden One a 7pm tip, Charlie sets this game up for us.

Sacramento Kings podcasts are heard Tuesdays with Charlie O at


Doncic and Prozingis lead the Mavs to a 130-111 win over the Kings in “Big D”

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings wanted to close out their short two-game road trip on a high note by handing the Dallas Mavericks (33-22) a loss on their homecourt heading into the All-Star Break. The Kings (21-33) knew they would have a big task on their hands because All-Starter Luka Doncic was going to make his return to the lineup after missing the previous seven games due to an ankle injury.

The Doncic Factor

For the rest of his career, Luka Doncic will always be tied to the Sacramento Kings in a bad way. Almost everyone associated with the NBA expected the Kings to draft Doncic because of his Euro pedigree and the Euro leanings of the Sacramento front office. When that did not happen, most experts and analysts were shocked. Now that Doncic is on the verge of becoming a real superstar, the decision to pass Doncic in the draft has become magnified.

Every Doncic success will be viewed as a Sacramento failure because they could have drafted Luka with their number two pick in 2018. Doncic will start the All-Star game on Sunday and he could have done that as a Sacramento King.

On Tuesday night, Doncic was the leading scorer in the game putting up 33 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Some will say that Doncic will always be in the mood to punish the Kings. Do not believe that rubbish. Doncic does not care about the Kings. He is very happy playing for billionaire Mark Cuban in Dallas who will spend whatever is necessary to put the players around him to win an NBA Championship.

Lack of defense

The Kings allowed the Mavericks to score at least 30 points in all four quarters of the game on Wednesday night. They allowed Dallas to shoot 56.5% from the field in the game. The Mavs hit 17 of 40 (42.5%) of their 3-point attempts.

A team like Dallas cannot be defeated when their opponent fails to show up on defense.

Top Scorers

  • Doncic was the game’s leading scorer while Kristaps Prozingis also had a double-double game with 27 points and 13 rebounds plus he added five assists
  • Buddy Hield was the Kings leading scorer coming off the bench to put up 22 points to go along with nine assists

The Glass Cleaners

  • Prozingis was the game’s leading rebounder with 13
  • Hield, Barnes and Bjelica all pulled down seven rebounds each for SAC

Dropping Dimes

  • Buddy Hield was the game’s assists leader with his nine dimes
  • Luca Doncic led Dallas with eight

Up next

The Kings will return to play on Thursday, February 20 when they will host the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Mavericks will return to action on February 21 in Orlando.

Hield, Kings shock the Wolves with fourth quarter, overtime blitz

By Morris Phillips

Buddy Hield coming off the bench? Yeah, that’s working quite nicely.

After shooting poorly over an extended period dating back to December which in part prompted coach Luke Walton to take his leading scorer out of the starting lineup, Hield put on a good face and took his demotion in stride.

But being a team player didn’t immediately perk up his game. That transformation came on Monday night in Minneapolis… in the fourth quarter with the Kings in a seemingly helpless place trailing by 19 points after a sleepy, defensive effort through three quarters.

Hield scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, part of his career-best 42-point night, as the Kings wiped out a 22-point deficit in the final 5:42 and shocked the Timberwolves in overtime, 133-129. The Kings’ comeback was so improbable, it hadn’t been accomplished previously in the next generation statistics era beginning in 1997. Over the final 2:49, the Kings wiped out a 17-point deficit to send the game into overtime, where they prevailed. Over the previous 24 seasons, and in well over 8,000 occasions, teams had trailed by 17 points with less than three minutes remaining in regulation or overtime, and lost each time.

Then the Kings came up with the comeback of comebacks on Monday.

“We should be able to play with a 15-point lead with a couple of minutes left. They made shots. We didn’t execute our defensive game plan. We didn’t get rebounds when we needed to. We didn’t make the needed plays,” said Wolves coach Ryan Saunders.

Over the final 5:42 of regulation, the Kings scored 33 points, in itself a once-in-a-generation accomplishment for offense in such a short period. Hield came up with four of the seven Kings’ 3-pointers in the final stretch, including a 29-foot bomb with 30 seconds remaining. Only one more three, from Nemanja Bjelica, came in overtime, as the Kings shot 18 of 40 from distance for the game.

But that was small bits compared to the Wolves, who made a franchise-record 23 (in 46 attempts) but still came up short. Minnesota lost for the 10th consecutive outing, which led to a locker room filled with disbelief after the game. Shabazz Napier, who missed a pair of critical free throws with 34 seconds remaining even invoked the memory of Kobe Bryant in relaying his disappointment in his and his team’s performance.

“The competitor he is, he would be upset with us, truly upset with us,” Napier said. “Today we did a dishonor to him , to the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, to the fans.”


The Kings play defense and beat the Bulls 98-81 on Friday in Chicago

By Charlie O. Mallonee @Charlieo1320

The long national nightmare is over for “Sacramento Proud” as their team’s six-game losing streak has come to an end in Chicago. The Kings (16-29) downed the Bulls 98-81 on Friday night at the United Center.

The last time the Kings won a basketball game was on January 7th in Phoenix. Those 16 days between wins seemed like an eternity for Sacramento fans.

A major change to the starting lineup

Sometimes a coach must shake things up to in order to get his team’s attention. In this case, Kings head coach – Luke Walton – made a change to his starting lineup. Guard Buddy Hield has been in a shooting slump, so Walton took Hield out of the starting rotation and replaced him with Bogdan Bogdanovic who has been the Kings sixth man all season.

Moving a starter to the bench is always dangerous because a coach never knows how the player will react. In this case, the lineup moves worked.

Hield took the change in stride

In reality, Hield did more than take things in stride – he thrived. Hield led the Kings in scoring by putting up 21 points in the game. He shot 7-for-12 overall and hit 5 of 9 from behind the 3-point line. Hield also grabbed eight rebounds.

After the game, Kings head coach Luke Walton was full of praise for Hield for his play and his reaction to his change in the rotation.

The key to the win was defense

This was the second game this season that the Kings held their opponent to under 90 points. The Kings are 2-0 in those games.

Sacramento held Chicago to just 39.2% (31-for-79) shooting overall and the Bulls hit only 8 of 37 (21.6%) from 3-point range.

The Kings caused the Bulls (17-30) to turn the ball over 21 times which resulted in 16 Sacramento points.

The Bulls largest lead of the game was three points.

Top performers

Leading scorers

  • Buddy Hield was the Kings leading scorer with 21 points
  • Zach LaVine led the Bulls scoring attack with 21 points

The Glass cleaners

  • Cristiano Felicio of the Bulls was the game’s leading rebounder with nine
  • Buddy Hield led the Kings with eight rebounds

Dropping dimes

  • De’Aaron Fox was the game’s assist leader with seven dimes
  • Kris Dunn led the Bulls with six assists

Up next

The Kings travel to the Twin Cities where they will play the Timberwolves on Monday night.

The Bulls will play in Cleveland on Saturday night.




Royalty Flushed: Kings drop sixth straight in Detroit,127-106

By Morris Phillips

Losing streaks are hard enough to digest, and the individual moments within those streaks even more so.

For the Kings, losing at the middling Pistons, the ninth-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, for their sixth straight loss while allowing Detroit 19 points more than their season average may rank as the nadir for fading Sacramento.

It certainly felt like it in the third quarter when the Pistons turned a 57-50 advantage at the half into a rout.

“Basketball is a simple game: Defend without fouling, make the right play and knock down shots early,” coach Bill Walton said. “I feel like we didn’t do any of those things.”

The Kings certainly didn’t defend. The Pistons were without Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, along with taking the occassion to send a message regarding punctuality to rookie Sekou Doumbouya, who didn’t start for the first time in 10 games. Despite the absences, the Pistons got way too comfortable shooting the basketball at 53 percent for the game, and at an even higher clip than that in their 36-point, third quarter that put the game away.

Meanwhile, the Kings certainly didn’t have a coherent plan to match the high-scoring Pistons. Missing 25 of their 35 3-point shot attempts kept Sacramento’s offense disjointed and unable to make up the deficit, which grew and grew.

“There are times where we are out there playing good basketball and there are times when we’re not,” De’Aaron Fox said. “I said it before, you just try to play the best basketball you can for the most amount of time. I don’t think we’re doing that right now.”

With the recent trade of Trevor Ariza to Portland, and the Pistons’ lineup changes, the game became a battle of new faces. One stood out: Reggie Jackson, playing in his first game after missing 42 due to a back injury, led the Pistons with 22 points and four assists.

“When you alternate (Jackson with Derrick Rose, who also scored 22 points), you have stability at the point guard position, and that’s what this league is all about, guys that can create and run the floor,” coach Dwayne Casey said of his team’s offense.

Rose, the NBA’s renaissance man, and the guy most frequently mentioned to upgrade a playoff contender’s outlook down the stretch of this season, scored better than 20 points for the 10th straight game, matching his career-best stretch from his MVP season in 2011.

Christian Wood added 23 points to give Detroit three scorers with 20 or more, and Svi Mykhailiuk added 13. The Pistons poured it on in a 70-point, second half that far too much resembled a basketball clinic for the Kings’ liking.

“It’s about where we’re going and I’m a very patient person,” Walton said. “I believe in our group, but we need to do a lot of things including starting games with a much more competitive, engaged mindset. So, I still have all the belief in the world in our team. It’s still surreal to be coaching this team, but there are some things that we need to improve on and improve on quickly because it’s too late in the season to be having these same types of mistakes so frequently.”

The Kings continue their road swing on Friday in Chicago. The Kings and Bulls will be meeting for the second time this season after the Chicago held on for a 113-106 win at Golden 1 Center on December 2.