Shots On Target: Efficient Kings build a big lead and hold on, beat the Bulls 112-103

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–The crowd showed up, and the Kings showed out.

If any NBA team needs circumstances to be just right from available players, a representative start to the early evening sunset bestowing sufficient daylight within the Golden 1 Center, it’s the Kings.

On Monday, the circumstances were right and the Bulls were made to pay, in a 112-103 loss to the Kings.

Sacramento built a 20-point halftime lead by hitting 3’s and going near perfect from the free throw line, and held on, surviving a Bulls’ 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to break a four-game losing streak.

De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 34 points, six rebounds and six assists, capped by a pair of made free throws in the game’s final minute that increased Sacramento’s lead to 110-103 with 36 seconds left.

“De’Aaron is playing so well right now and he’s doing an extremely good job of controlling the game,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “Night in and night out what he is doing for us is amazing. He’s playing as well as anybody in the league if you go back over the last month or so.”

Domantas Sabonis returned from a two-game absence and added 22 points, seven rebounds while keeping Bulls center Nikola Vucevic to similar numbers (23 points, 10 rebounds). That virtual draw at the center spot allowed the Kings to fully benefit from off-shooting games from Demar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.

The dangerous backcourt duo for the Bulls shot 15 of 35 which dragged the visitors shooting from the floor to 41 percent. The Kings far more efficient shooting numbers–including 10 for 25 shooting from distance–spelled the difference in a game driven by each team’s surges offensively.

Bulls 12-0 run down 90-89 with 8:17 remaining after DeRozan FT’s.

Doncic Out: Kings catch a break, then get broke off late and lose to the Mavs, 114-113

By Morris Phillips

No Luka? For the Sacramento Kings that late, injury news appeared to be the opening needed for a victorious Saturday afternoon in North Texas.

But the Mavericks taking the floor without their singular superstar and his 27 points a game wasn’t the determining factor. The fact that the Mavs–winners of 22 of 29–are red hot was.

Dallas overcame a 19-point deficit and shocked the Kings in the game’s final minute, winning 114-113.

De’Aaron Fox scored a game-best 44 points and his jumper with 2:55 remaining gave the Kings a 110-103 lead. But they would miss their next five shots and commit a turnover, putting the Mavs in position to steal it.

Spencer Dinwiddie hit a jumper to cap an 8-0 run for Dallas that gave them a 111-110 lead. Then after Fox made one of two free throws, Dorian Finney-Smith hit a 3-pointer to give the Mavs a 114-111 lead with three seconds left.

Harrison Barnes attempted a long 3 and missed, and the rebound was scooped up by Justin Holiday, who scored from under the basket just ahead of the final horn.

Dinwiddie scored 36 points in just his fifth game with Dallas after he was main piece coming back from Washington in the trade of Kristaps Porzingis. The gifted scorer moved into the starting lineup for Doncic, but the hosts started slow, and trailed the Kings 65-51 at halftime.

“We want Luka playing, and it took us some time to get used to him not being on the floor,” coach Jason Kidd said. “I thought the guys got their legs, and got their rhythm without Luka out there. It helps us – makes us a better team – but hopefully Luka’s back Monday.”

“I do what I do, and I don’t do what I’m not supposed to do,” Dinwiddie said. “That goes 1-through-15. Everybody here follows that type of mentality because we understand that to not just win basketball games in the regular season, but in the playoffs, you need that.”

Domantas Sabonis was the Kings only other bright spot offensively with 15 points, 10 rebounds but he wore down late against the defense of Finney-Smith.

With the loss, the Kings saddled themselves with a 16th consecutive losing season that will likely be joined by a just as lengthy streak of missing the playoffs. At 24-42 only a torrid finish with just two or three losses would put them in position to pass Portland, New Orleans and San Antonio and move into the 10th spot and a two-game shot at a playoff berth.

On Monday, the Kings return to the Golden 1 Center to host the Knicks at 7:00pm.

Mike Can Coach!: Malone makes history in Nuggets 128-110 win over the Kings

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Doing big things after leaving the Sacramento Kings has a familiar ring. Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo did that. Tyrese Haliburton is a pretty good bet to do that. And Mike Malone might be the best example of that and he’s not even an NBA player.

Remember Malone? Not even his working relationship and belief in the mercurial Cousins could save his head coaching job eight years ago. The Kings fired Malone in 2015 after the team went 39-67 in a rough season and a sluggish start to the next. And Malone picked himself up and moved to Denver, where he’s won 300 games in seven seasons, culminating with the milestone win at Golden 1 Center Thursday night, 128-110 over the Kings.

“This is a tough business,” a proud Malone said after the game. “I got fired in my first job. I’ve seen my father get fired. This business is not for the weak-minded. Here’s to 300 more.”

That Malone has racked up the wins in Denver with a defensive mindset, and a versatile center who plays like Cousins in reigning MVP Nikola Jokic couldn’t sit well with the Kings’ leadership. While Malone continues to do with Denver what many think he could have done in Sacramento had there been more patience, the Kings are floundering defensively, allowing a league-worst 115 points per game after allowing 128 in their first game since the All-Star break.

“Against a team like that, if you turn it over they’re going to convert on the other end. In that fourth quarter they made a couple of 3s in a row that really hurt us,” Domantas Sabonis said.

The Kings trailed by as many as 13 points in the third, but rallied to within five, 92-87 at the end of the quarter. But the hosts became even more generous in the fourth, allowing 36 points as Denver ran away.

Jokic led the Nuggets with 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists as his 34 minutes of floor time was the only hindrance to him posting a triple-double. Will Barton and Monte Morris added 31 and 19 points respectively as Malone’s big victory was engineered by his three, most tenured players.

Sabonis led the Kings 33 points and 14 rebounds, and his 15 for 23 shooting was a major reason the Kings stayed within range for three quarters. De’Aaron Fox had 20, and Harrison Barnes 14 giving the Kings a balanced attack, inside and out. What hurt them was 20 misfires from distance, with ten, different Kings missing at least one 3-point attempt.

“We have to shoot the ball better,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “We had a lot of open looks we missed and they came down and converted. That’s where the separation starts.”

The Kings fell to 22-39 with 21 games remaining in their season. Their prospects for a 10th place finish aren’t great, but they could improve if the club can win at New Orleans and San Antonio next week, two of the three clubs ahead of them in the standings that must be displaced.

CRISIS IN UKRAINE TOUCHES SACRAMENTO: Kings’ center Alex Len and Svi Mykhailiuk of the Toronto Raptors issued a joint statement before the game that impassionately placed both natives of Ukraine in support of their homeland in the face of the Russian invasion of the Eastern Europe country.

“We pray for our families, friends, relatives and all the people who are in the territory of Ukraine. We hope for an end to this terrible war as soon as possible. Dear fellow Ukrainians, hold on! Our strength is our unity! We are with you.”

Sacramento Kings podcast with Jeremiah Salmonson: All Star Break couldn’t have come at a better time for weathered Kings

Sacramento Kings Davion Mitchell will not participate in the NBA All Star break’s Rising Star’s Challenge in Cleveland due to suffering from a hand contusion. Mitchell is expected to return to action on Thu Feb 24, 2022 at the Chase Center in Sacramento (file photo from Hoops Habit)

On the Sacramento Kings podcast with Jeremiah:

#1 Jeremiah, going over some of the Sacramento Kings Domantas Sabonis who is averaging 18 points per game, 12 rebounds, and has 5.1 assists. How important is he since joining the team?

#2 The Kings DeAaron Fox led the Kings with 33 points against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. When the Kings struggle in some of their games they always seem to look for Fox as their go to guy for offense.

#3 Sobonis didn’t hold back landing second on the Kings leaderboard behind Fox on Wednesday fending of the Bulls defense and scoring 22 points.

#4 Jeremiah the Kings Davion Mitchell has a hand contusion and will not participate in All Star weekend during the Rising Stars Challenge. With Mitchell out that means the Kings will not be represented at all during All Star weekend in Cleveland.

#5 Mitchell will rest the hand and hopes to be back in the Kings next game Thu Feb 24th against the Denver Nuggets at Golden One Center in downtown Sacramento.

Join Jeremiah for the Kings podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

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.

Queeta Provides A Boost: Rookie impresses, but Kings suffer heartbreaking 109-108 loss to Cleveland

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–The Kings’ inconsistencies are so far reaching, they intersect with everything the faltering club touches. In this case, the first NBA basket for rookie Neemias Queta was muddied by a dubious footnote.

Queta, the rookie of Portugese decent, who was a standout center for Utah State, was rushed into duty with the Kings missing Richaun Holmes and Damian Jones (COVID protocols) along with Tristan Thompson, a late scratch with a quad issue. That left the Kings with starter Alex Len and an anxious Queta to combat the Cleveland Cavaliers’ imposing front line.

Just 30 seconds after Queta’s first quarter appearance, his nifty, jump hook in the lane gave him his initial points in the NBA. But six seconds later while the Kings’ defense took a pause, the Cavaliers’ Cedi Osman cruised in for an uncontested layup at the other end.

Monday’s fourth quarter was a mixed bag as well with Cleveland riding a 20-5 run to seize control and lead by double-digits only to see the Kings answer with a 9-0 run but come up short when De’Aaron Fox’s shot in the lane was a little long. That conclusion saddled Sacramento with a painful 109-108 loss at Golden 1 Center.

The Kings’ fifth consecutive loss came one night after the team was embarrassed in Portland by the Blazers, who were without their dynamic Lillard/McCollum backcourt. Against the Cavs, the Kings battled, only to come up short at the final horn.

Their biggest issue Monday? A lethargic start in which they missed eight of their first 10 shots and dug themselves a hole they ultimately couldn’t climb out of. But after an uninspiring start–and that issue of getting back on defense after a made basket–the embattled club played hard, and hit difficult shots.

Yes, the inconsistencies. But this time, interim coach Alvin Gentry generally seemed pleased.

“We did all we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump,” Gentry said. “If you tell me that I could get De’Aaron Fox a foul-line jumpshot to win the game, I’ll take that. If we play that way night in and night out, we’ll change the direction of our team.”

The Cavaliers–also on a back-to-back–aren’t inconsistent at all. In fact, as one the league’s hottest teams, they’ve ruled the paint against all their opponents for better than a month. They were the unfortunate opponent for Golden State’s Klay Thompson’s return on Sunday, scoring a season-low 82 points. But the Kings’ porous defense immediately had Cleveland back on track; they scored their first 17 points on Monday in the paint.

Then Kevin Love got hot, pouring in 14 of his 19 points in the first half. The Kings appeared whipped at the break, trailing by 13, and not doing enough to inspire the smallest home gathering of the season.

“We were rebounding the ball, protecting the paint, doing everything that made us a good team, said Jarrett Allen, who finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds for the Cavs. “It was a huge step in the right direction.”

The Kings made it interesting in the second half by hitting 12 of their 14 3-pointers along with some blue collar work on the glass that would yield 15 offensive rebounds. The Cavs did their part in aiding the home team with 17 turnovers.

With Fox clearly laboring, likely due to a shoulder issue he’s battled, the Kings got scoring from Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Haliburton’s three with 7:51 remaining extended the Kings only lead of significance to 94-89.

But the ensuing Cleveland run sealed it. Laurie Markkanen’s three with 2:34 remaining put the Cavs up 109-99.

Haliburton led the Kings with 21 points, 8 assists. Hield contributed 19 points while connecting of five of his eight 3-point attempts. Four other Kings scored in double figures, and Queta added 11 points, five rebounds in a career-high 24 minutes.

The Kings continue their five-game home stand on Wednesday when the Lakers visit, this time likely with the streaking LeBron James in tow. James has scored at least 30 points in 10 of his previous 11 games, with the exception being a 26-point, 7-rebound effort in a 108-103 win over Minnesota.

Metu, But Not For Two: Kings get three from an unlikely source at the horn to beat Dallas, 95-94

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Alvin Gentry wanted more passion and desire, Gentry’s players were desperate for a different storyline, and Kings’ fans demanded a win on a blustery, cold night.

And the key to pulling all these wishes together?

Trust your teammates. That’s exactly what De’Aaron Fox did with his decision to find a wide open Chimezie Metu with the game on the line.

“He turned the corner and went so quickly,” Gentry said of Fox’s decision. “He said, ‘I was either gonna dunk it and try to get to the line or if I saw them pull in so far I was going to try to hit the corner guy.'”

“It’s tough,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “Unfortunately if we give up a layup the game is tied, we go into overtime. But DP (Dwight Powell) went to help and they made a shot.”

Metu’s 3-pointer at the buzzer made the Kings winners, 95-94 over the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks, who were without superstar Luka Doncic for the ninth, consecutive game due to COVID protocols. The Kings found themselves in far more favorable circumstances regarding COVID with Davion Mitchell, Alex Len and Louis King gaining clearance for Wednesday’s game although only Mitchell saw playing time.

The Kings took control with a 35-13 second quarter only to see the Mavericks respond with a pair of significant runs in the third quarter, which set the scene for a tense, tight fourth quarter in which the Kings had just one lead, 92-90, until Metu’s final shot.

Gentry’s frustration with his club got the desired effect, as the Kings were better defensively. But at critical junctures, the hosts had no answers for the 1-2 punch of Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson, who combined for 49 points to lead Dallas.

The Kings got efficient efforts from the rookie Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox who combined for 30 points. They were two of six Kings that scored in double figures, though none scored more than Fox’s 16.

The Kings satisfied Gentry’s desire for more focused play by shooting 38 percent from three along with a 46-40 edge in points in the paint. The Kings free throw shooting perked up as well with the team canning 13 of 15.

Defensively, the Kings were far from stout, but there was a competitiveness in their play, as they collapsed on drivers in the paint, and showed some resistance, especially with Dallas’ wings and their aggressive guards, particularly Brunson, who made tough shots throughout.

Wins on consecutive nights pulled the Kings within a half game of 10th place San Antonio in the densely packed Western Conference playoff race, and made it more likely that the club will look within for improvement as opposed to trying to orchestrate a high profile trade.

How unlikely was Metu’s decisive shot? The 6’9″ forward didn’t make a three in either of his first two seasons in San Antonio, and was shooting just 26 percent from three this season. But with game in the balance, Metu was composed and ready to shoot. His mean mug reaction to the game winner was priceless as well, as he never broke a smile even after his teammates mobbed him in celebration.

“It was a great moment,” he said. “Since I’ve been in the league, for sure one of the best moments I’ve had. For us to grind that one out, it felt good.”

The Kings again host Dallas on Friday night with the possibility that Doncic and some combination of seven other Mavericks in protocols could be cleared to play.

THE RETURN OF I.T.: Did anyone attend Wednesday’s game expecting to see Isaiah Thomas in uniform? Probably not, but Kings’ fans were ready with a hearty ovation when Thomas entered the game for Dallas in the second quarter. The 32-year old signed a 10-day deal with Dallas on Wednesday under a COVID hardship rule, and scored six points in 13 minutes. Thomas was originally drafted by Sacramento and played his first three seasons with the Kings.

Harrison’s Hot Hand: Barnes, Kings offense come alive in 4th quarter of 119-105 win over the Wizards

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Say you’re not LeBron, Steph or KD. But you’re not chopped liver either, a dude with a nice deal and a niche in the vast pantheon of the NBA. If that’s your bag, then Wednesday was your night, and Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center your place.

With defense seemingly optional, shot blockers and defenders nowhere to be found, the Kings got their fit in the fourth quarter with Harrison Barnes scoring 15 of his 19 points, leading to a 119-105 home win over the Wizards.

The Kings snapped a three-game losing streak and moved ahead of the stumbling Trail Blazers in the dense Western Conference playoff hunt. Meanwhile, the Wizards have dropped six of seven, including all three on their current Western road swing.

Of course, neither coach wanted a loss here. With their season tenuous, twice interim coach Doug Christie was intent on starting in the win column, and Washington’s Wes Unseld Jr. was desperate to avoid falling within a game of .500 after an impressive 10-3 start to the season.

The harsh circumstances certainly impacted 46-year old Unseld’s thoughts. But the 51-year old Christie’s as well.

“The competitive spirit always isn’t there. The collective mind-set isn’t always there. Our care factor isn’t always there. That’s my frustration,” said Unseld, no doubt pointing to a finishing stretch Wednesday that saw Wizards score just 16 of the game’s final 58 points after leading by 12 late in the third quarter.

“For us to come back and fight the way we did … if it was easy everybody would do it, but it’s not,” Christie opined.

The day began with the news that Alvin Gentry, William Bagley Jr. and Terence Davis had entered COVID protocols and weren’t available. That elevated the 51-year old Christie into his first head coaching assignment less than a year after he resigned from his role as the team’s broadcast color voice. It also thrust Chimezie Metu, Alex Len and Moe Harkless into significant roles against the Wizards.

The Kings maintained their approach of putting their most credible defenders on the floor, and Christie was the visual reminder, given his status as one the NBA’s best defenders at his peak in 2000 through 2005. But these Kings aren’t a one-game fix. They allowed the Wizards’ three-point looks, and a one-point halftime lead which they expanded with a 32-point third quarter.

Luckily, the Kings did better with shot selection and just attacking. They also dramatically reduced their turnovers after the break. For one night, sticky defense got trumped by being persistent and getting to the basket.

De’Aaron Fox best personified Christie’s wishes by eschewing deep balls and attacking the basket on his way to a 28-point night. Davion Mitchell added 13, which justified Christie playing him 29 minutes and getting his resistance defensively.

Barnes followed and he absorbed some contact in delivering some big points down the stretch. His made free throws put the Kings up 109-98 with 3:24 remaining.

Better opponents loom immediately with Memphis up twice and a visit to San Francisco in the Kings’ next five games. So which path will they follow?

Who knows. Tyrese Haliburton couldn’t supply anymore wisdom in simply saying, “the only consistent thing we’ve done is be inconsistent.”

No King? No Kings Either: Promising start devolves into a 117-92 loss against the Lakers without LeBron

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Alvin Gentry’s not settling for this.

The Kings’ hard earned double-digit, first half lead over the Lakers evaporated into a 25-point loss and the team’s interim coach was embarrassed.

Gentry’s been around: he was an assistant for the world champion Warriors, he’s led successful, playoff teams in New Orleans and Phoenix, and what he saw Tuesday hurt his eyes.

“They don’t deserve what they got tonight,” Gentry conceded. “As the coach of this team I want to apologize to every Kings’ fan out there.”

Worse than an embarrassed coach, the Kings had their two most recent outings as examples not to follow (loss at Memphis) or keep that blueprint (3OT win at the Lakers) and they couldn’t choose, mixing in each for one half of Tuesday’s roller-coaster.

In the first half, the Kings fought through screens defensively, controlled the glass, then backed it with 56 percent shooting and all the smart ball possession decisions they could muster. The result: a 59-50 lead at the half in which they led by as much as 13. Conversely, the Lakers looked slow, disinterested and leaderless without LeBron James, who was placed on COVID protocols earlier in the day.

But it turned out, the visitors, led by Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and wild card Malik Monk were surreptitiously waiting for the Kings to fall flat, and they did just that in a third quarter that was so lopsided it could decide 90 percent of all NBA games.

That was the prelude to a 67-33 wipe out, a second half that enlivened every Lakers fan who walked into Golden 1 Center and left the Kings and their crowd spent.

“A team goes on a run, you punch back and if there is no punch back, you’ll get run out the gym like we did,” Richaun Holmes said.

Holmes was actually the only Sacramento player to lift his fists in the third. The undersized center who returned after missing the three, previous games made all three of his field goal attempts while his teammates were 1 for 15. The Lakers shot 58 percent and with the Kings flailing, they needed just seven minutes to pull even at 72. But their run was just beginning: with the Kings in the midst of a stretch where they missed 17 of 18 shots, the Lakers ended the third on a 15-2 run to lead 87-74.

“We weren’t giving the necessary effort to transition defense and with our pick-and-roll coverages,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Sometimes you have to let them hear about it.”

Davis had 10 of his team-best 25 in the third, and Russell Westbrook 11 of his 23. Monk came up with the 41-foot, buzzer beater to end the first half, then got nine more in the third, finishing with 22 points.

Holmes led all scorers with 27, missing just one of his attempts from the floor. Chimezie Metu was just as integral with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the absence of the injured, front court trio of Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley and Moe Harkless. But all four Sacramento guards had nights to forget.

De’Aaron Fox had 17 points, but his five assists and seven turnovers were telling. Buddy Hield missed six of his seven shots and finished with five points. Rookie Davion Mitchell was a demon defensively in the first 24 minutes, but he missed 11 of his 14 shots and turned it over three times. Tyrese Haliburton missed eight of his 10 shots and finished with six points.

Rookie Louis King, a significant name from the Kings’ summer league push, got his most significant NBA minutes to date by doing a bang up defensive job on Carmelo Anthony. But King too was fallible; he shot 1 for 6 and committed four fouls in 14 minutes on the floor.

The Kings get little time to regroup, they’ll travel to Los Angeles on Wednesday to face the Clippers.

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.