#1 Charlie O talks about why the Kings didn’t use Buddy Hield in the last five minutes of Monday night’s game in Minnesota. He didn’t want to talk about Hield and why he was benched at the end of the game. The question came up at the beginning of the press conference.
#2 Kings head coach Dave Joeger doesn’t like being questioned about his coaching and why he makes some of the moves that he did. Hield and Joeger got into a jawing match when they were playing Golden State.
#3 The Kings have struggled against Western Conference opponents with a 17-23 road record, but you would have never known that after watching the Kings play the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 119-116 win.
#4 Coming off the game in Minnesota and knowing Joeger’s reaction to the Hield question, will Joeger and the Kings shake the T-Wolves game off and turn the page?
The Sacramento Kings entered the homestretch of the NBA season knowing that they needed to really improve their record versus Western Conference teams. As they began the game in Oklahoma City on Saturday night, Sacramento was 16-22 on the season versus Western Conference foes and just 5-12 playing those teams on the road.
After losing a heartbreaker to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, the Kings had to travel to OKC to face the Thunder who feature Russell Westbrook – “the King of the triple-double” – and the potential 2018-19 MVP Paul George who own the third spot in the Western Conference.
OKC was coming off a tough Friday night
The Thunder hosted the Utah Jazz on Friday night and had to really battle to come away with a victory. That game went into two overtimes before the Thunder finally put the Jazz away 148-147.
Paul George had to play 50-minutes. Russell Westbrook spent almost 43 minutes on the floor before fouling out in the first overtime.
The Kings needed to take advantage of the Thunder playing in the second game of a back-to-back set, especially when the first game went into double overtime.
First half perfection
The Kings did exactly what they needed to do in the first 24-minutes of the game. Sacramento shot 50-percent (25/50) from the floor. They struggled a bit from downtown hitting just 3-of-12 (33.3%) from long range. They dished out 16 assists while turning the ball over just six times. Those six turnovers resulted in eight Thunder points.
Buddy Hield led the SAC scoring attack with 18 points in the half. He went 8-for-12 shooting including two 3-pointers. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 12 points by going 4-for-6 from the floor. Marvin Bagley III came off the bench to score 11 points and grab six rebounds.
To no one’s surprise, Russell Westbrook led the charge for Oklahoma City who looked tired and out of sync right from the opening tip-off. Westbrook put 18 points in the book while Paul George was the next leading scorer with seven points.
The Thunder shot just 35.8-percent (19/53) from the field. The had just eight assists and turned the ball over eight times which resulted in 12 Sacramento points.
At the end of the first half, the Kings held a 63-49 lead over the Thunder.
The second half had to mean a Thunder comeback
Even if they are tired, a visiting team cannot expect to keep a talented team like the Thunder from making big runs in order to get back into the game.
The Thunder went on an 18-6 run to begin the third quarter and cut the Kings lead to just two points with 7:29 to go in the period. The Kings woke up and began to play their game. Sacramento went back up by 14 points with 2:24 remaining in the quarter.
With 36-minutes in the book, the Kings still held a 94-83 lead, but everyone had a feeling that the Thunder were not ready to give up.
The final 12:00
OKC used a combination of strong play from Dennis Schroder, Paul George, Markieff Morris and of course, Russell Westbrook to fight their way back into the game one more time. By the 6:26 mark, the Thunder had cut the Kings lead to three points.
Russell Westbrook would go on to score 15 of the 33 points the Thunder would score in the quarter. The lead changed four times in the period. OKC outscored SAC 33-25 in the final 12-minutes which is what made it such a close game.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Kings free throw shooting down the stretch allowed them to hang on and win the game 119-116.
Kings by the numbers
The win raised the Kings record to 31-28 on the season which allows them to remain in sole possession of ninth place in the Western Conference. The Clippers beat the Grizzlies so they are 1.5 games ahead in eighth place. The Lakers lost to the Pelicans (even with Anthony Davis held out of the game) which means they are now two games back of the Kings in 10th place.
Buddy Hield led the SAC scoring attack with 34 points. “Buddy Buckets” hit 12-of-22 shots overall and went 3-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line. He also was very effective from the free throw line converting 7-of-9 opportunities.
Marvin Bagley III recorded a double-double by scoring 19 points and hauling 10 rebounds. MB35 also added three assists, three blocked shots, and two steals.
De’Aaron Fox also scored 19 points in the game. He also dished out nine assists, blocked three shots and added a steal.
The Kings outscored the Thunder 48-46 in the Paint
The Thunder won the battle of 2nd Chance Points 16-7
Even though they were tired, OKC scored more Fast Break Points than the Kings 25-19
SAC shot 45.8-percent (44/96) for the game
They hit 7-of-19 (36.8%) from long range
The Kings converted 24-of-34 (70.6%) from the free throw line. The key was the number of opportunities.
The team was out-rebounded 59-46 and still managed to win the game
Protecting the ball has become a key trait for Sacramento. They turned the ball over just nine times which resulted in 15 OKC points.
The Kings recorded 24 assists which denotes excellent ball movement
Checking the book for OKC
Key individuals performances:
Russell Westbrook was the game’s high scorer with 41 points. Westbrook connected on 15-of-30 field goal attempts and made 5-of-12 3-point shots. He also had a good night at the charity stripe converting 6-of-8 opportunities. Westbrook made it a double-double game by adding 10 rebounds.
Dennis Schroder came off the bench to score 14 points. The German transplant went 5-for-12 shooting.
Paul George also scored 14 points but he was 4-for-19 shooting for the contest. That 50-plus minutes of playing time on Friday obviously took its toll.
Markieff Morris put 10 points playing some key minutes late in the game for George.
The key number you need to know is the field goal shooting percentage. The Thunder shot just 38.1-percent (40/105) for the game. A team almost never wins a game in the NBA when they shoot under 40-percent. Yet, OKC came within four points of putting this game in the win column.
The Kings wrap up this 3-game road trip on Monday in Minnesota versus the Timberwolves.
The Thunder will return to action on Tuesday on the road in Denver against the Nuggets.
The Sacramento Kings had to play overtime for the second consecutive game in three days in Indiana on Friday night against the Pacers. Unfortunately for the Kings, they came up on the short end of the game this time as they lost 115-111.
Sacramento (18-28) is now 1-4 in overtime games this season. Indiana (24-22) is 4-1 when have to play an extra session. Four of their 24 wins have come in overtime. That is not only impressive but it may vital to their seeding come playoff time.
The Kings started the game strong – something they have had trouble doing all season long. Sacramento shot 61.8% in the first half and hit 11-of-16 3-point attempts to take a 64-55 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second half was not as kind to the Kings. Being on the road came back to haunt Sacramento. They shot just 39.3% in the second half and hit just 1-of-8 3-point shots. The Kings also gave up a 16 lead to the Pacers who came back to tie the game at the end of regulation to force the overtime.
Indiana changed their tactics and began to play very physical in the second half. The Kings did not respond very well to the physical play and were taken out of their game by the Pacers. Paul George also came to life and took over the game for his team scoring 16 points – 14 of those points from the free throw line.
George scored six of the Pacers 11 points in overtime. When needed, the superstars of “the association” always do their best to step up to lead their teams.
The Kings played well for 40 of the 48 minutes in regulation. If they could have added another three to four minutes to that total, they might have been able to avoid overtime and notched another victory.
Joerger’s analysis of the game
Heck of an NBA game
Proud of guys (Joerger is consistent in trying to build his players up)
Ran into a team that has our number right now
Shot just 37.5% in second half
They were on the foul line 28 times in the second half
We got to go on and play the next night in Charlotte tomorrow
Who did what in the game
Cousins – 26th double-double game 26 points, 13 rebounds five assists
Darren Collison – 26 points, 4-for-6 3’s, five assists, three steals
Ty Lawson – 16 points, 8-of-8 from free throw line, six assists,two 3’s
Arron Afflalo – 15 points, 6-for-9 field goals, three 3-pointers
Team 49.3 FG%, 50% 3-pointers, 77.8 Free Throw %
The stat they would change 19 turnovers that resulted in 25 Pacer points
Paul George – game-high 33 points, 16-for-17 at the free throw line
CJ Miles – 18 points, 6-for-9 from 3-point land, all attempts were 3’s
Team – 48.7 FG%, 35.7% 3-point shooting, 87.9 Free Throw%
Up next on the schedule
For the Kings, the incredible four games in five days schedule continues. They are off to Charlotte for the back end of a back-to-back road set. Charlotte is in seventh-place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 23-24.
Indiana will return to action on Sunday when they will host the Houston Rockets.
Sacramento – On Saturday night in Sleep Train Arena, it was DeMarcus Cousins’ world and the rest of us were privileged to live in it.
The Kings won their fifth consecutive game downing the Indiana Pacers 108-97 behind Cousins’ 48 points and 13 rebounds. Cousins literally controlled the paint on the offensive end of the floor fighting off two and three defenders on his way to the basket.
The Kings went on a 7-0 run to open the game and served notice that they had come to play and play hard. Sacramento led the game wire to wire as they posted their 20th win of the season.
A game that appeared to be a possible “cake walk” for the Kings turned into a battle on both ends of the floor. The Kings controlled the paint outscoring the Pacers 58-32 down low. The Pacers turned up their defense and held the Kings to 44.7-percent (38-for-85) shooting from the floor and causing Sacramento to turn the ball over 15 times resulting in 19 Indiana points.
Kings head coach George Karl said before the game that his team would have battle the very athletic hands of the Pacers. Indiana lived up to that billing making the Kings work hard for every point they scored after the opening run.
Sacramento also brought its defense to game. The Kings held the Pacers to just 41.9-percent (36-for-86) shooting from the floor. It was the second consecutive game that the Kings held their opponents under 100 points. Sacramento had averaged giving up 107.4 points per game coming into Saturday night’s contest.
The Kings had not won five consecutive games since October 31 to November 7,2014. Sacramento’s record now stands at 20-23. They are now 12-11 at home.
The loss caused Pacers record to fall to 23-21. Indiana has lost five of their last six games.
Cousins scored his career-high 48 points going 17-for-29 from the floor. He was 1-for-2 from 3-point range and 13-for-20 from the free throw line. Cousins recorded a double-double by grabbing 13 rebounds. He played a game-high 39 minutes.
Rajon Rondo posted another triple-double against the Pacers. Rondo scored 11 points, distributed 10 assists and pulled down 10 rebounds in the game. It was his sixth triple-double of the season and made Rondo the all-time leader in the Sacramento era in that category.
Willie Cauley-Stein played another strong game for Sacramento. He played 34 minutes scoring six points and recording 12 rebounds. Five of those rebounds were on the offensive end and extended possessions for the Kings.
Darren Collison scored 11 points, Kosta Koufos 9, Omri Casspi 8, Marco Belinelli 7, Ben McLemore 5 and James Anderson 3.
The Kings won their second consecutive game without Rudy Gay on floor. Gay missed the game due to a left heel contusion.
Paul George led the Pacers scoring attack putting up 34 points. George shot 9-for-20 from the field but was 4-for-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also went 12-for-14 from the free throw line.
Center Jordan Hill scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds to make it a double-double game for him.
Monta Ellis scored 16 points while dishing out seven assists for the Pacers.
Lavoy Allen put up nine points, Myles Turner 11, George Hill 8 and Joe Young 2.
What they said after the game
Kings head coach George Karl called DeMarcus Cousins performance, “Pretty special. They kind of didn’t have an answer and they were letting us have almost everything. I think what Cuz didn’t do at a high level tonight was make the 3-ball. Even his mistakes or turnovers or his forced issues at times were still pretty powerful for us; kept the rhythm, kept the flow.”
Karl added, “His (Cousins) skills are off the chart, his hands, and his ability to put it on the floor and get to the rim. Defensively he’s good, maybe very good. He does all of the fundamental nature of the game of basketball at a high, high level.”
“Honestly I’m more happy about the win,” said Cousins after the game. “I’m glad I got a new career high, but I’m more happy about the way this team is playing. We’ve been through a lot this season – a lot of ups and downs, but we’re on the right path right now. I think we’re growing each and every game. Like I’ve been saying, my mindset is just playoffs.”
“Well they went to him (Cousins) every time down the floor for 48 straight minutes”, said Indiana head coach Frank Vogel. “You get 29 field goal attempts and 20 free throw attempts – that’s high usage. That’s what the analytics people call a high usage rate. Our top big man defender is out. Guys that were in there – our three bigs – battled, did the best they could, but he’s a big load. He’s a load and when he’s going to get touches every single time … he’s going to put up those kind of numbers.”
The Kings will be back on the floor Monday night when they host the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets beat the Kings 127-122 in overtime on November 23, 2015.
Indiana heads home to host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
The enigmatic road trip continued for the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night when the host Indiana Pacers, owners of an NBA-best home record of 29-4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, narrowly snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat. Klay Thompson’s 25 points, including the game-winning jumper with .6 seconds remaining, willed the Warriors to a 98-96 decision over Indiana (46-14), owners of the top record in the association, despite Golden State blowing a 13-point lead with a half dozen minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Thompson rallied the Warriors (37-24) to the win with a 16 point fourth quarter when fellow guard Stephen Curry, the usual bell cow in the clutch for Golden State, went ice cold. Curry finished the night with 19 points, all scored in the first three quarters. Andrew Bogut and David Lee were hemmed in by the Pacers league-best defense for a combined 14 points and 11 rebounds. Pacers forward David West dropped a game-high 27 points while Paul George added 26 of his own. George completed the double-double with a game-best 12 rebounds.
Despite the Pacers topping practically every defensive metric available, the Warriors still connected on close to their season average in field goal percentage (45.5 percent), hitting 44 percent Tuesday on 37 makes out of 84 attempts. The Dubs hit exactly half of their shots from beyond the arc, going 10-for-20 from downtown and their bench outscored the Pacers reserves 34-11.
The Warriors took their first lead, 10-8, after Curry connected on a layup 4:15 into play before Paul George hit a three to restore the Indy edge. Led by a seven-point run from Curry, the Warriors closed out the final seven minutes of the first quarter outscoring Indiana 15-10, finding themselves up 25-21 after 12 minutes of play. The Warriors netted 23 second quarter points to the Pacers 21 to establish a 48-42 cushion at the half.
Indiana pulled within one, 51-50, just 2:18 into the second half and took their first lead since the first quarter two minutes later after Lance Stephenson hit a two-pointer with 4:32 of the clock and the scoreboard reading 56-54 Pacers. The Warriors closed out the final three minutes of the third on a 10-7 run to lead 73-70 three-fourths of the way through play.
The initial six minutes of the fourth and final frame were all Warriors, as they notched 19 points to the Pacers 9, but the home team held the guests to only two field goals in the final five minutes to draw even 96-96 after George hit his second of two free throws with just over a minute left. Klay Thompson’s buzzer beater, a turn-around jumper off a Draymond Green feed, would be the only basket made over the final minute of play, handing the Warriors their first triumph in Indiana since February of 2007.
With Tuesday’s win, the Warriors guarantee they will finish the second-longest road trip of the season going at least .500 after picking up wins in Brooklyn, Detroit and Indiana while falling to Chicago and Toronto. The Warriors can complete the road swing with a fourth win in a Wednesday night swing in Boston to complete the current six-game road set.