SACRAMENTO KINGS

Chaos at G1C: Kings build late rally to scrape by Spurs

Mar 7, 2024, 10:01 PM | Updated: 10:10 pm

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 07: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings slam dunks against ...

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The 2023-24 Sacramento Kings have a long list of unfortunate losses to teams that will be near the top of this summer’s NBA Draft Lottery.

Detroit. Portland. Charlotte. Houston (twice). If the Kings wanted to keep pace in the tight Western Conference playoff race, they would need to take care of business against a San Antonio Spurs team that entered play in possession of the worst record in the West.

In true Kings fashion, it couldn’t be just a comfortable night at Golden 1 Center as Sacramento narrowly escaped with a 131-129 win on Thursday night.

De’Aaron Fox took over late, scoring 17 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter before fouling during the final minute of regulation. Trailing by five points with 57 seconds to go, the Kings went on a furious 7-0 run to stun the Spurs and send a sellout crowd into a frenzy.

It was another big win for Sacramento (36-26), who followed up Wednesday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers with another victory 24 hours later to keep pace in the packed Western Conference playoff picture.

Was it a pretty, perfect win? Of course not–but at this point in the season, a win is a win, and the Kings need them by any means necessary.

Kings vs. Spurs Recap & Takeaways

During Wednesday’s win over the Lakers, Sacramento looked out of sorts early. The Kings fell behind by 19 points before flipping a switch in the second quarter, where they exploded for 44 points on 18-of-23 (78%) shooting from the field.

Sacramento followed a similar script just 24 hours later against San Antonio–minus the large deficit.

After struggling during the first quarter and falling behind 31-30 heading into the second, the Kings caught fire–again–to jump out in front by double-digits. De’Aaron Fox went scoreless during the first quarter, but the speedy guard scored 10 points in the second period to help pace an 11-0 run during the opening minutes of the second frame.

With Fox and Domantas Sabonis locked in (17 first-half points on 8/10 shooting), plus the bench picking up where they left off in Los Angeles with 30 first-half points, Sacramento took a 71-59 lead into the break.

If you were expecting a Spurs comeback during the second half, your intuition was correct.

It was San Antonio’s turn to catch fire from the field during the third quarter as the Spurs shot 58 percent from the field while trimming a double-digit deficit to 100-95 heading into the fourth.

The Kings’ weak three-point defense reared its ugly head in this one as San Antonio–who entered the night shooting 34.6 percent from deep on the season (worst in the NBA)–took the lead in the fourth quarter thanks to their 15th made triple of the game. A 19-6 run gave the Spurs their largest lead of the night at 114-106 with less than eight minutes to go.

Sacramento rode the coattails of reigning Clutch Player of the Year winner De’Aaron Fox down the final stretch as the guard scored 17 of his 33 points during the fourth quarter to keep San Antonio’s lead within reach.

While Fox was the go-to threat late, the Kings faced an uphill road to pulling out a win after the All-NBA talent was whistled for his sixth and final foul with 57 seconds remaining. With Fox sidelined and Sacramento trailing by five points, a near-perfect finish was needed to pull out a win–and that’s precisely how things unfolded.

Harrison Barnes marched down and converted a quick basket before the Kings picked up a much-needed stop on the other end. With time winding down, Malik Monk stepped back into a game-tying triple that created a crowd “pop” that nearly fried the NBC Sports California microphones.

With 23 seconds to go, the score was tied at 129-129 before the game took a final turn.

San Antonio had a chance to hang onto the ball and take the final shot, but Keon Ellis’s on-ball pressure, paired with anticipation defense from Domantas Sabonis on a pass attempt by Spurs guard Malaki Branham, forced a turnover that handed the Kings the game on a silver platter.

Sabonis tipped the pass into the open court and delivered a game-sealing jam, helping Sacramento avoid another letdown loss at home.

“It looked pretty ugly there with a minute left, and I was like, ‘Ugh, not again,'” Sabonis said of the late-game drama. Once the three-time All-Star got the ball in his hands, his thought process was simple: “Just hurry up and dunk it.”

Sabonis posted his 45th consecutive double-double during the win, scoring 31 points (14-of-19 shooting), 17 rebounds, nine assists, and one crucial steal.

Although Sacramento allowed the Spurs to shoot 16-of-34 (47%) from three-point range, the Kings held San Antonio scoreless during the final 57 seconds and picked up another win–an ugly one at that, but it doesn’t matter.

Teams around Sacramento in the standings–Dallas and Phoenix– secured wins on Thursday, while the Golden State Warriors lost and fell three games behind the Kings in the West with 20 games to play.

The race for the top-six is on, and Sacramento did what they had to do to keep pace in the chase.

Notes

  • Sacramento shot 31% from 3PT range on Thursday, improving to 8-17 when shooting undeer 35% from deep.
  • The Kings are now a season-high ten games over the .500 mark
  • Malik Monk added 18 points and eight assists off the bench over 30 minutes
  • Keon Ellis turned in another impressive performance, scoring 11 points (4/6 FG) to go along with two steals over 17 minutes.
  • Sacramento, who is last in the NBA in free-throw percentage, went 17/18 (94%) from the line.
  • The Kings struggled from three, but they pummeled the Spurs in the paint: 76-52

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will continue its six-game homestand on Sunday afternoon with a matinee showing against the Houston Rockets.

If the Kings want to keep pace in the competitive Western Conference, they’ll have to redeem themselves against a Houston team that has had their number in 2023-24.

The Rockets dominated the Kings in two early-season matchups at Toyota Center, winning by an average of 21.5 points per contest while holding Sacramento to just 93.0 points (on 41/30/64 shooting splits) during two wins.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Rockets coverage, beginning at 1:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 3:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

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Upcoming Schedule

  • Sunday, March 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 3:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, March 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, March 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, March 16th – Sacramento Kings vs. New York Knicks – 7:00 PM PST
  • Monday, March 18th – Sacramento Kings vs. Memphis Grizzlies – 7:00 PM PST

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