by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings are now on the verge of mathematical elimination from playoff contention after losing to the Pelicans in New Orleans 121-118 on Thursday night. The Kings chances of making the playoffs were remote, but now, they are non-existent.
The Kings are just 14-23 on the road after the loss in New Orleans. That really is not surprising for a young team like Sacramento. Learning to win on the road in the NBA is one of the most difficult lessons to learn for a young team.
The biggest lead in this game was nine points by the Pelicans. The game was tied 13 times and the lead changed between the teams 15 times. This was the very essence of what is defined as a “close game”.
Julius Randle put a driving layup through the basket for the Pelicans with 8.7-seconds to go in the game to give New Orleans a 121-118 lead.
Buddy Hield took a potential game-tying 3-point shot from 28 feet away from the basket with 4.0-seconds remaining on the clock. Unfortunately for the Kings, the shot was not good and the Kings would lose by three points.
The loss dropped the Kings record to 37-38 on the year with seven games to play on the schedule. The Pelicans are now 32-45 for the season.
Key Performers in the Game
- Buddy Hield – the Pels former first-round draft pick – was Sacramento’s leading scorer with 27 points. He shot 11-for-21 from the floor but went just 1-for-8 from 3-point range.
- De’Aaron Fox recorded a double-double by scoring 25 points and dishing out 12 assists. Fox hit 11-of-22 his shots from the field. He also grabbed five rebounds, made three steals, and had one blocked shot.
- Willie Cauley-Stein also put a double-double in the book by scoring 18 points and hauling in 12 rebounds. WCS who has struggled at the charity stripe went 4-for-4 at the free throw line on Thursday night.
- Bogdon Bogdanovic scored 14 points in just over 18 minutes of playing time.
- Marvin Bagley III and Harrison Barnes each scored 10 points.
- The Kings were outscored in the paint 74-64.
- The Pelicans won the battle of 2nd chance points 14-9.
- Julius Randle was the leading scorer in the contest with 34 points. He hit 12-of-24 shots from the floor and went a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Randle made it a double-double game by pulling down 10 rebounds.
- Christian Wood came off the bench and scored 25 points in just over 27 minutes on the floor. He sank 11 of his 16 shots.
- Elfrid Payton put 16 points up on the board shooting 50-percent from the floor (7/14). He also recorded nine rebounds.
- Anthony Davis did not play due to “lower back spasms”.
The Kings traveled to Houston after the game and will take on the Rockets on Saturday night.
The Pelicans will host the “hapless” LA Lakers on Sunday.