A win is a win: Sabonis, Monk lead Kings past Blazers in OT

Nov 8, 2023, 10:13 PM | Updated: Nov 9, 2023, 8:50 am

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Not all winning efforts are pretty, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. In the Sacramento Kings’ case, Wednesday’s 121-118 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers came at a much-needed time as the ‘Beam Team’ snapped a three-game skid in thrilling fashion at Golden 1 Center.

It might have taken everything that this shorthanded Kings team could muster, but the Kings posted their first win in 10 days and improved to 3-4 on the young season.

On a night that saw Sacramento shoot 11-of-37 (29%) from three-point range and turn the ball over 21 times, Mike Brown summed things up best during his postgame press conference:

“That was a grimy, gritty, ugly win.”

Sabonis & Monk Lead The Way

De’Aaron Fox missed his fourth-straight game due to a sprained ankle, meaning that Sacramento needed someone–or multiple players–to step up and assert themselves against Portland.

During the Kings’ two blowout losses in Houston, nobody could get in a flow on offense as the Rockets blew a sluggish Sacramento offense out of the water.

On Wednesday night, the Kings got two meaningful performances out of Domantas Sabonis and Malik Monk, as both players came up big down the final stretch.

After missing four of his first seven attempts from the line during the first half, Monk–an 85 percent free-throw shooter during his seven NBA seasons–locked in during the final two quarters and extra period.

The Sixth Man of the Year candidate knocked down all 12 of his second-half attempts from the line, including seven during the final 2:30 of regulation.

With the game on the line during the closing seconds of overtime, Sabonis knocked a loose ball out to Monk on the perimeter, who was able to corral the ball and draw a foul before going to the line for two game-icing free-throws.

Monk finished the night with his third-career double-double, scoring 23 points to go along with six rebounds and a career-high ten assists over 29 minutes.

“We always feel like he’s going to give us a huge spark off the bench,” Brown said of Monk’s contributions during the win. “He had a huge game for us and found a way to get something done.”

Although Monk struggled from the field (four-of-16), he was able to create for his teammates on offense by finding the open man and continuing to attack the basket and draw fouls.

“I just try to do stuff different if I’m not making shots,” Monk said postgame of his double-double and bounce-back effort at the foul stripe. “I knew they were going to drop at some point, so I just kept attacking.”

Monk often hooked up with Sabonis in the two-man game, with the All-Star center receiving four of Monk’s 10 assists.

One game removed from a tough performance in Houston, Sabonis responded with a season-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting while pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds and passing out nine assists over 39 minutes.

Sabonis was a force on the offensive glass, with seven of the center’s boards coming on Sacramento’s end of the floor.

As long as Fox is sidelined, the Kings need Sabonis to display a similar aggression to Wednesday’s output, as the All-NBA product came up huge in a close game while staying out of foul trouble.

Mike Brown Shakes Things Up

On the heels of two blowout losses in Houston, it was fair to expect that head coach Mike Brown could tinker with his rotations on Wednesday night.

While many expected that any potential change to the starting lineup would involve Malik Monk supplanting Davion Mitchell at the point guard spot, Brown went in a different direction by placing two-way guard Keon Ellis in the first five.

Ellis, an undrafted guard on his second two-way contract, earned a shot in the starting lineup after scoring 15 points over 14 minutes during the final stretch of Saturday’s loss in Houston.

While Ellis has primarily played shooting guard during his time in the G-League, Brown gave the 24-year-old a chance to run the offense on Wednesday night while other players who were initially on the outside looking in were bumped into the second unit.

Instead of seeing JaVale McGee come off the bench, Alex Len was called on to play backup center behind Domantas Sabonis, while Kessler Edwards took rotation minutes from Sasha Vezenkov and Chris Duarte as Brown appeared to prioritize physicality over offense.

While Ellis’ numbers (four points and three steals over 21 minutes) don’t jump off the stat sheet, the young guard did an admirable job of bringing the ball down on offense and playing solid defense on the other end of the floor.

Len made the most significant impact of the newest members of the rotation, as the seven-footer scored 10 points (four-of-four shooting from the field), pulled down six rebounds, blocked two shots, and swiped a steal over 13 impressive minutes.

While it’s unknown if Brown will roll out a similar rotation on Friday if De’Aaron Fox and Trey Lyles are unable to return, the shakeup did wonders for the second unit as Len and Davion Mitchell (season-high 16 points) provided the Kings with a boost during the win.

Huerter Bounces Back

Entering play on Wednesday night, Kevin Huerter was searching for his breakout performance from the perimeter.

The Kings veteran guard had struggled from three-point land (24%) over six games, but a matchup against the Trail Blazers did wonders for ‘Red Velvet.’

Huerter had his strongest showing of the young season against Portland, as the two-guard finished the night with a season-high 17 points on five-of-13 from the field and five-of-nine from three-point range over 39 minutes of playing time.


  • Keegan Murray continued to struggle during the win: 9 PTS | 4/17 FG | 1/6 3PT | 31 MIN
  • Davion Mitchell thrived in a reserve role after being replaced by Keon Ellis on Wednesday. The defensive-minded guard came up with some big defensive plays late in the fourth and overtime while adding a season-high 16 points on six-of-nine shooting (three-of-four from deep).
  • Late in Wednesday’s game, Brown swapped out Malik Monk and Kessler Edwards during each possession change in a move that traded offense-for-defense and defense-for-offense. Edwards picked up a crucial stop during the final stretch of OT that helped put Sacramento in a position to win the game.

Injury Report

De’Aaron Fox (ankle sprain) is closing in on a return to action but will not suit up on Wednesday night.

The All-Star guard was seen getting shots up at Toyota Center while the Kings were in Houston, but it looks as if Sacramento is taking a cautious approach with their franchise centerpiece.

Trey Lyles (calf strain) will miss Wednesday’s game and has yet to appear in a regular season game, although the forward is going through return to competition conditioning as he inches closer to a return.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

Are you ready for some NBA In-Season Tournament action?

Sacramento will play its first Group Play game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden 1 Center on Friday while debuting their new court and City Edition uniforms.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Thunder coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, November 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder** – 7 PM PST
  • Monday, November 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 15th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, November 17th – Sacramento Kings @ San Antonio Spurs – 4:30 PM PST
  • Sunday, November 19th – Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks – 4:30 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play

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