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.”

Headline Sports with Tony Renteria: Will the rest of Mickelson’s sponsors walk out on him; Holmes could be on his way out at Kings; plus more

Phil Mickelson seen here during the third round at the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course on May 22, 2021. Mickelson this week lost two of his sponsors because on controversial remarks made possibly joining a Saudi super golf league (AP file photo)

On Headline Sports with Tony Renteria:

#1 After golfer Phil Mickelson’s remarks in his new autobiography that were actually suppose to be off the record according to Mickelson saying that the idea of a Super Golf league in Saudi Arabia would be a great idea and saying he was aware of human rights abuses in Saudi including the death of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered on Oct 2, 2018 by Saudi and Turkish officials in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul that he would like to join a Saudi Super golf league. After the remarks were published Mickelson’s sponsors Heineken and Amstel dropped him. Because of the heavy fall out of the remarks do you think Mickelson could lose the rest of his sponsors?

#2 Talk to the hand: The Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard has received a tsunami of coverage since his open slap to the head of the Wisconsin Cowboys assistant coach Jake Krabbenhoft after the line hand shake last Sun Feb 20th. Howard who was suspended for the rest of the season and fined $40,000. Howard will be back in front of the bench on March 9th for the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

#3 Tony talk about former Oakland A’s pitcher Goose Gossage who said this week that he would to stuff Yankees general manager Brian Cashman in the trash bin head first for using analytics saying “it breaks my heart what happened to this game.” Gossage said he would like to punch MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in the nose. Baseball writer Bob Nightengale wrote “what is Gossage doing these days? Nothing but burning bridges.”

#4 How much danger does baseball get into if they can’t get an agreement this Sunday and as announced by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred the beginning of the season March 31st could you see one to three weeks of the regular canceled?

#5 The Sacramento Kings after picking up Domantas Sabonis most likely will trade Richaun Holmes. If that happens Holmes would have played for the Kings for three seasons since the 2019-20 Holmes is averaging 11 points per game.

Join Tony for Headline Sports each Thursday at