Kings v Suns

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It’s a bad back-to-back weekend for the Kings

ESPN Radio
December 31, 2019 - 8:20 am

By Charlie O. Mallonee

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The Sacramento Kings (12-20) had to play a home and away back-to-back set of games on Saturday and Sunday. The Kings went into the weekend having lost five consecutive games and were in desperate need of a win.

The injury bug had also bitten SAC once again as both De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III went down with injuries for the second time this season. Fox had to exit the game the Minnesota game with back spasms. Later in the Timberwolves game – Bagley had to leave with extreme foot pain.

We now know that Bagley has a mid-foot sprain that will keep him out of action for “several games”.

Saturday vs. the Suns

PHX came into Sacramento on an eight-game losing streak and looked like the perfect team for the Kings to play and get healthy against. The teams had played twice this season and won the game played on their homecourt.

The Suns (12-20) let the Kings know in the opening quarter that they came to play as they took a 31-30 lead into the second period. Then, PHX went wild in the second quarter outscoring SAC 28-18 shooting 57.9% from the field. The Suns were led by Mikal Bridges who came off the bench to score nine points by going a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor.

Phoenix held a 59-49 lead at the half.

The Kings came out of the locker room like a new team after halftime. Buddy Hield scored 11 points in the third quarter to lead his team to a 28-point period while the Sacramento defense held Phoenix to just 22 points. After 36-minutes, the Suns lead had been cut to just four points, 81-77.

SAC managed to tie the game five times in the final quarter but was never able to take the lead. With 5.9-seconds remaining in the game and the Suns leading 112-110, the Kings inbounded the ball in the frontcourt to Harrison Barnes who attempted a 26-foot, 3-point shot that would have won the game. The shot hit rim and bounced into the hands of Kelly Oubre Jr. as time expired. Sacramento had lost their sixth consecutive game.

SAC stars

  • Buddy Hield scored a team-high 23 points shooting 8-for-17 (four 3-pointers)
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic put up 22 points hitting 8 of 12 shots (five 3-pointers)
  • Harrison Barnes had a double-double game with 21 points and 10 rebounds

PHX standouts

  • Devin Booker scored a game-high 32 points and added 10 assists for the double-double
  • Kelly Oubre Jr. had a double-double putting up 20 points and grabbing 16 rebounds
  • Ricky Rubio recorded 21 points and added eight assists

If it’s Sunday, it must be Denver

Things did not get any easier for the Kings (12-21) on Sunday as they had to face the 23-9 Nuggets at Mile-High in Denver. The Nuggets are a big, physical team that loves to beat opponents up while they seem to score at will.

SAC came out of the gate fast staying right with the Nuggets by shooting 68.2% from the field. The Kings gave Denver the chance to stay in the quarter by sending their opponent to the free throw line nine times. The Nuggets hit all nine of their free throws. The Kings did not go to the charity stripe once in the quarter. At the end of the first 12-minutes, the Kings were up 32-31.

The Nuggets reasserted control the second quarter as Mason Plumblee (a Kings killer) and Michael Porter Jr. led Denver with six points each. Jerami Grant, Nikola “the Joker” Jokic and Malik Beasley all added five points apiece in the quarter as the Nuggets outpaced the Kings 31-25. Denver made seven steals in the period. The Nuggets held a 62-57 lead at the half.

Unlike what they have done in many games this season, the Kings did not experience a letdown in the third quarter. SAC stayed right with DEN and cut the Nuggets lead to just two points halfway through the quarter. Denver pressed on the accelerator and opened a seven-point lead by the end of the quarter, 88-81. It looked like back-to-back game fatigue and the altitude might be taking its toll on the Kings.

The Nuggets sensed that Kings might be fading, and they moved in for the kill. Denver opened a 14-point lead three times in the final period and held that 14-point lead with just 5:32 left to go in the game. Game over – right? Wrong!

Bjelica, Bogdanovic and Hield began hitting 3-point buckets as Fox started dropping dimes. SAC cut the Denver lead to just three points with 20.7 seconds remaining in the game. The Kings had to foul in order to stop the clock and Murray hit both of his free throws to seal the win for the Nuggets – 120 to 115.

-- Throwing it down 5,290 feet above sea level --

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Who are those guys in Kings uniforms?

  • De’Aaron Fox was back after missing one game and recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 assists

  • Harry Giles III (that’s right H20) returned to floor after not playing for over a month. Giles scored 11 points, made three rebounds and added three assists.

Leading Scorers

  • Nemanja Bjelica scored a game-high 27 points shooting 10-for-13 from the floor
  • Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton led the Nuggets with 19 points each

The Glass Cleaners

  • Bjelica was the Kings leading rebounder with six
  • Nikola Jokic was the game’s leading rebounder with eight

Dropping Dimes

  • Fox led all players with his 13 assists
  • Jamal Murray was the assist leader for Denver with seven

Up next

The Kings host Kawhi and the Clippers in a matinee affair on New Year’s Eve.

Denver will spend New Year’s Eve in Houston facing the Rockers.

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