SACRAMENTO KINGS

Early struggles doom Kings as Thunder secure Super Bowl Sunday win

Feb 11, 2024, 2:36 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - FEBRUARY 11: Luguentz Dort #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder puts up a shot...

(Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

As San Francisco 49ers fans around the Sacramento area prepared to take in Super Bowl LVIII, those with the Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game on their TVs likely switched to the pregame show before play entered the fourth quarter.

Fresh off one of their best offensive showings of the season during Friday’s win over the defending champion Denver Nuggets, Sacramento struggled to get into a rhythm during a 127-113 loss to the Thunder.

While the Kings got another triple-double effort out of Domantas Sabonis and a third-straight 20-point performance from Malik Monk, Oklahoma City got whatever it wanted on the offensive end against a lackluster Sacramento defense.

The loss sends the Kings (30-22) back out of the top-six spots in the Western Conference standings and a half-game behind the Phoenix Suns for the fifth spot.

Sacramento will face the Suns in Phoenix on Tuesday in a game that will be broadcast nationally on TNT.

Kings vs. Thunder Recap & Takeaways

It’s been a common–and unfortunate–occurrence this season: Sacramento starting games ice-cold from deep.

Sunday’s game in Oklahoma City was the Kings’ latest rough start from the three-point line, as the Thunder took advantage early by taking a double-digit lead multiple times during the first half.

With All-Star starter Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams (both with 19 first-half points) putting Oklahoma City’s offense on their backs, Sacramento had to weather a brutal start for De’Aaron Fox and the entire team’s three-point shooting while trying to keep the game within reach.

Thanks to another huge first half from Domantas Sabonis (10 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists) and bursts of scoring from Malik Monk, Harrison Barnes, and Keegan Murray (all with 10+ first-half points), the Kings were able to keep things from getting ugly before the halftime break.

The Thunder took a 67-57 lead into the third quarter as Sacramento went five-for-16 (31%) from three-point land during the first half while turning the ball over 11 times. Oklahoma City got whatever it wanted on offense during the first 24 minutes of play, especially from deep (6/13, 46%) and in the paint (26 points on 73% shooting at the rim).

If the Kings wanted to head to their Super Bowl viewing party on a high note, they would have to lock in on both ends of the floor and play a better brand of basketball in the second half.

While it seemed as if Sacramento was on the cusp of making a real run after they trimmed the deficit to six during the opening minutes of the third quarter, things went downhill moments later as Oklahoma City kicked into high gear.

The Thunder used a 16-0 run to stretch its lead past the 20-point mark, and they didn’t look back as the Kings never settled into a rhythm on either end of the floor.

Things did get interesting late as Sacramento cut a 24-point OKC lead to just seven late in the fourth, but Oklahoma City stretched their lead back into double-digits for good before the Kings could cut it to a one-possession game.

As poorly as Sacramento played on Sunday, the game was there for the taking late.

With De’Aaron Fox turning in his latest head-scratching performance (15 points on six-of-16 shooting from the field) and the rest of the offense struggling to knock down looks from three during the first three periods, the Kings simply buried themselves into a hole that was too deep to crawl out of.

Sacramento went 10-for-30 (33%) from three-point range during the first three quarters, while the Thunder (48% for the game) never relented from deep. In the fourth, the Kings caught fire (six-for-12), but it was too late.

Sunday’s loss was the latest example of how Sacramento continues to allow sluggish starts to cost them late, as the Kings outplayed Oklahoma City in the fourth. Basketball is a four-quarter game, and at some point, Sacramento will need to improve its start to games instead of having to dig themselves out of double-digit deficit holes before the final horn sounds.

Fox’s struggles loom large in a game like this, as Sabonis did his job, Keegan Murray racked up a double-double, and Malik Monk added 26 points (6/10 from three-point range) off the bench.

Would the Kings have won this game if Fox was his typical 25-to-30-point self? It wouldn’t hurt–and Sacramento has looked like a much different team without its star guard performing at a high level.

With two games remaining until the All-Star break, Fox and the Kings will have back-to-back tough tests against two teams that they currently trail in the Western Conference standings (Phoenix and Denver).

Sabonis Keeps The Streak Going

It’s not even a surprise at this point.

Domantas Sabonis posted his 35th consecutive double-double while racking up another triple-double–his second-straight and fourth over the past five games–during Sunday’s action at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City.

The three-time All-Star finished the day with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists on nine-of-14 shooting from the field.

Sabonis leads the NBA in both double-doubles (48) and triple-doubles (17), while his 35-game double-double streak is the longest that the league has seen since Russell Westbrook (36 games) did so in 2021.

Notes

  • Davion Mitchell knocked down a season-high four triples during the loss in what was likely the guard’s strongest showing of the season: 14 PTS | 5/6 FG | 4/4 3PT | 20 MIN
  • Malik Monk has scored 20+ points in three-straight games for the first time during his Kings tenure
  • Keegan Murray posted his fourth double-double of the season: 13 PTS | 10 REB | 6/12 FG

Injury Update

Following a brief return from a right ankle sprain, Kings forward Sasha Vezenkov will be sidelined for “a few weeks” after re-aggravating the injury during Saturday’s practice.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will continue its three-game road trip on Tuesday night when they face the Phoenix Suns–a team that is right there with them in the Western Conference standings.

With a win over Phoenix, the Kings can clinch the regular season series and control any tiebreaker scenario over the Suns.

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

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tuesday, February 13th – Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, February 14th – Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets – 6:00 PM PST
  • NBA All-Star break – February 15-21
  • Thursday, February 22nd – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, February 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 6:30 PM PST
  • Monday, February 26th – Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat – 7:00 PM PST

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