By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings shocked the 18,055 fans at the Toyota Center in Houston — when with one-second left to go in the game — Nemanja Bjelica put up a 33-foot, 3-point jump shot that went in for the winning basket. The Kings players ran off the bench to mob Bjelica, while the Rockets stood around with mouths wide open trying figure out what had just happened.
What had happened was the Kings had beaten the Houston Rockets 119-118 to close out their four-game road trip. What was even more of a surprise was this was the second game of a back-to-back set on the road. On Sunday, the Kings beat the Dallas Mavericks on a last-second basket also by Bjelica.
The Kings finished the road trip 2-2. SAC suffered back-to-back losses in Portland and San Antonio before putting together consecutive wins over Dallas and Houston (15-8). After losing the first two losses, the Kings could have easily gone 0-4 on this road trip. Finishing with two last-second victories over two of the best teams in the Western Conference is a testament to the Kings tenacity and response to the new coaching staff.
Sacramento (10-13) has endured a very tough time without two of their star players – Marvin Bagley III and De’Aaron Fox. The good news for the Kings is that Bagley — who has been cleared for full basketball contact — may well be back in the lineup on Wednesday night when the OKC Thunder visits the Golden 1 Center. The team reports that Fox’s rehabilitation is going well, but no timetable has been set for his return.
This game was truly a battle that featured 12 lead changes and 14 ties.
- Russell Westbrook was the high scorer in the game putting 34 points in the scorebook.
- Buddy Hield led the Kings scoring attack with 26 points.
The Glass Cleaners
- J.P. Tucker pulled down 19 rebounds and made it a double-double game by scoring 10 points.
- Harrison Barnes was the Kings top rebounder with eight.
Dishing out dimes
- James Harden was the leading assist distributor dishing out 10 dimes to go with 27 points.
- Trevor Ariza contributed seven assists for the Kings.
- The Kings hit 40 of 88 (45.5%) field goal attempts in Houston. 20 of those buckets were 3-point baskets.
- SAC worked the free throw line in this game. The went to the line 22 times and put the ball through the hole 19 times.
- The Kings kept the turnovers to a minimum again making just 10 giveaways that resulted in 13 Houston points.
- Both coaches used just eight players in the contest.
- The Kings bench outscored the Rockets second unit 27-23.
- Cory Joseph must be given credit for the incredible job he did on defense. He spent most of the game guarding “The Beard”. Joseph put up 14 points and added six assists while guarding Harden.
The Kings return to action on Wednesday night when they will host the OKC Thunder at the Golden 1 Center.
The Rockets head out to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.