Deja Vu for the Sacramento Kings in 2nd Straight Late Collapse
by Matt George
The comeback Kings have made quite the name for themselves in recent weeks, erasing big deficits and closing out wins with heroic 4th quarters. Down 14 at halftime to the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento took full control in the 2nd half, building a nine point lead with just three minutes remaining. But that’s when things fell apart, as the Kings’ offense came to a screeching halt, allowing Portland to send the game to overtime. Sacramento managed only one made shot in the bonus five minute period, dropping their 18th game of the season; 113-108.
2018 came to an end with the Kings dropping a game in similar fashion against the Lakers in Los Angeles. Three times in the last month, Sacramento has been in full control before the offense goes ice-cold. In a tight playoff race in the Western Conference, games like these can be the difference maker between securing the 8th seed and watching the post season from the couch.
“I think it’s a good learning opportunity of what we’re looking for,” said Kings head coach Dave Joerger. “We shot 55 shots in the paint, we converted 22 of those. So I think that’s kind of where the game was.”
Damian Lillard did what he does best, taking over for the Blazers in crunch time. He hit back-to-back layups to send the game to overtime and finished the night with 25 points. Portland center Jusuf Nurkic had a monster night all over the stat sheet; 24 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and five blocks.
On the Kings’ side, Buddy Hield was Sacramento’s only offense in the first half, scoring 19 of his 27 point by halftime. Bogdan Bogdanoivc, who failed to score a point until the middle of the 3rd quarter, led the comeback charge for the Kings with 19 points off the bench. He was the only King to make a shot in overtime.
“We’ve just got to execute at the end of the game,” said De’Aaron Fox, “We had shots, we had makeable shots and we just didn’t make them. They made the plays that they needed to”.
As important as Bogdanovic was to Sacramento’s comeback, the game really changed when Dave Joerger substituted Harry Giles into the game in the 3rd quarter. Giles brought instant energy on both sides of the floor, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds in 13 minutes. He did well to make up for Willie Cauley-Stein’s dreadful night; just five points on 2/14 shooting.
“He changed the whole game for us,” said Bogdanovic, “He changed the whole rhythm of the game. It’s great for him, he is a confident guy, and it’s what we need him to do”.
Coach Joerger told the media postgame that he brought Giles in for his energy but doesn’t know if his solid contributions will result in more playing time in future games.
The Kings, now 19-18, are back in action Thursday against the Denver Nuggets, who currently sit at the top of the Western Conference.