Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes (22) gets the rebound as the Los Angeles Clippers’ Nicolas Batum (33) and Ivica Zubac (40) defend at the Golden One Center in Sacramento on Wed Dec 22, 2021 (AP News photo)
by Marko Ukalovic
SACRAMENTO —The Sacramento Kings hope they don’t get coal for presents from Santa Claus for Christmas.
Their ineffective shooting and not being able to take care of the ball might have gotten them on Santa’s naughty list in 105-89 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.
Sacramento have lost two games in a row and three out of its last four. Los Angeles have snapped its three-game losing streak.
Interim head coach Alvin Gentry missed his fifth consecutive game since being placed on the Covid-19 protocol on December 15th with assistant coach Doug Christie handling the head coaching duties for a fifth straight game.
Sacramento (13-19) came out flat and started out as cold as the weather outside. They began the game shooting 1 for 9 from the field and were held to just 33% (8-24) shooting in the opening quarter and had six turnovers. Guard Buddy Hield played all 12 minutes and was 0-6.
“We just played bad,” Haliburton said. “It’s a make or miss league. I thought we had some descent looks. But we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket, especially early.”
Los Angeles (16-15) started game on 13-5 run. Terrance Mann sparked the offense in the first quarter with nine points and center Ivan Zubac had six. They led 25-20 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was even less kind to the Kings as the Clippers began the quarter on a 11-3 run. Sacramento continued its carelessness with the ball with five more turnovers as they shot an anemic 32% (6-19).
Serg Ibaka chipped in five points and Eric Bledsoe scored the last four points for Los Angeles in the half as the Clippers led 49-38 at halftime.
Los Angles looked to have the game in hand when they went on a 13-2 run to increase its lead to 67-49 with 6:09 remaining with Bledsoe scoring seven of the 13 during the two-minute stretch.
However, Sacramento responded an 11-2 run of their own as Tyrese Haliburton scored five points in a row. Tristian Thompson and Hield made back-to-back three pointers to close the gap to 69-62. The Kings outscored Clippers 30-25 in the third quarter as the were down 74-68 to start the fourth quarter.
Sacramento wasn’t able to overcome their poor shooting and 19 total turnovers in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles closed out the final 5:47 on a 14-4 run to seal the deal as Ibaka scored 12 of his 17 points in the final quarter off the bench for the Clippers.
“It’s attention to the small things,” Christie said about the sloppy play by his team. “Attention to details. It’s making sure where is the ball and where am I supposed to be. You gotta hold yourself accountable and you gotta make sure you’re doing it. ‘My bad’ isn’t going to cut it in this league. You’re going to lose saying that.”
Haliburton led all scorers with 22 points to go along with a team high 13 assists. Harrison Barnes chipped in with 18 points and Hield finished with 16.
Bledsoe led the Clippers in scoring with 19 points and seven assists. Paul George chipped in with 17 points, including a dagger three pointer with 3:23 left in the game to put Los Angeles up comfortably 99-86.
GAME NOTES: Sacramento finished 12-for-38 from beyond the arc. Los Angeles was 7-for-24.
Sacramento signed Emmanuel Mudiay to a 10-day deal. Mudiay had been playing in Europe this season.
Queta Neemias was placed on the Covid-19 protocol yesterday.
UP NEXT: Sacramento hosts the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday 12/26 at 3:00pm at Golden 1 Center.