SACRAMENTO KINGS

Despite a late rally and Fox tallying 40, Sacramento falls to Boston

Apr 5, 2024, 7:13 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2024, 8:09 am

De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings goes to the basket against Al Horford #42 of the Boston Cel...

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 5: De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings goes to the basket against Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during the second quarter at TD Garden on April 5, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

(Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Sacramento’s defense growth has been on display recently, but their offense has struggled for stretches. Friday night in Boston, De’Aaron Fox scored 40 of his team’s 100 points in an up-and-down battle that came down to the wire.

The league-leading Boston Celtics had already secured the first seed in the Eastern Conference with a ridiculous 13-game advantage over the Milwaukee Bucks in the second coming into the night. As a result, most of their starters were seated for a majority of the final quarter. Jayson Tatum sat with 9:24 remaining. Kristaps Porzingis didn’t play in the fourth.

Fox and the Kings attempted a late miracle run to sneak away with a victory, managing a 21-1 advantage as time winded closer to zero. Fox banked in a triple to give Sacramento a one-point lead with seconds remaining, but multiple allowed efforts for the Celtics proved too difficult to hold off.

Yet, an opportunity still remained to come out victorious as the Kings had possession down one. Fox missed a jumper, Murray failed to convert a putback, as did rookie Colby Jones — or did he miss due to the contact?

Every loss stings for Sacramento at this point in the season as they attempt to climb the standings prior to the start of the postseason.

Kings vs. Celtics Recap & Takeaways

Boston has the best record in the NBA for a reason. Ranking first in offensive rating (122.6) and third in defensive rating (110.6), they can win games in various ways. After an early 10-3 lead for Sacramento, the Celtics ended the quarter on a 24-5 run.

Even with Jaylen Brown and Derrick White unavailable, the underdogs from California’s capital had a tough opening quarter, converting just 5/21 from the field.

Searching for offensive solutions, head coach Mike Brown went away from Alex Len and elected to play small ball while Domantas Sabonis sat. Trey Lyles and Sasha Vezenkov shared the front court to space the floor for Fox, who upped his aggression.

With ideal spacing and Boston’s switching defense, the Kentucky guard attacked ideal matchups and knocked down shots off the bounce and layups around the rim. It came in a hurry and served as a reminder of why he was named to the All-NBA Third Team last season.

Fox managed 20 points in the second quarter. As the defense attempted to slow Fox, his teammates found look, including a late 13-0 run en route to a 35-point quarter. At the half, Boston’s bench had a 23-7 advantage over Sacramento’s, which remains impacted by losing Sixth Man of the Year favorite Malik Monk to injury.

After tallying 15 in the first quarter, the Kings put up 35 in the second. Then, the question became which of their offenses would show up in the second half.

Kristaps Porzingis, who has started in all 54 games he’s played this season, was not on the floor at the beginning of the third quarter. Yet, it took less than two minutes for the big man to return to action.

While basketball is known to be, and often referred to, as a game of runs, Friday night’s showdown in TD Garden was an extreme example. The third quarter maintained the up-and-down nature of the first half, with stretches where Sacramento couldn’t buy a bucket and subsequent flurries of conversions.

The recent returns of Trey Lyles and Sahsa Vezenkov have aided Sacramento’s lack of size, but 7’2 Porzingis still gave them troubles. Some of that comes with going small without a traditional behind Sabonis, hoping it pays off offensively.

Led by Payton Pritchard, Boston’s second unit extended their lead at the start of the final frame. Attacking mismatches and knocking down triples following rotations was a successful recipe for the home squad. It looked all but over as the Celtics starters rested.

Fitting the dramatic up-and-down nature of the night, Sacramento rallied late, managing a 21-1 run to take a one-point lead with seconds remaining.

Down one with the ball, the reigning Clutch Player of the Year rose up for a quality mid-range look only to hit back iron and watch it rim out. Keegan Murray managed a put-back attempt that was no good, but rookie Colby Jones was there for another opportunity. Despite clearly getting hit in the face by Sam Hauser, there was no call from the officals.

With the loss, Sacramento’s 44-33 record is now identical to the Los Angeles Lakers, who currently sit ninth in the West. With five games remaining, each holds drastic postsesason ramifications most likely regarding the play-in.

Notes

  • Sacramento lost the free-throw battle 13 to 7 on Friday, with the Kings missing six of their 13 attempts.
  • De’Aaron Fox logged 44 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. Keegan Murray played 42 minutes.
  • Before tonight’s win, Boston held a record of 3-8 when shooting under 30 percent from three

Injury Updates

Malik Monk (right knee) will be reevaluated in four weeks after suffering a right knee MCL sprain last Friday night vs. Dallas.

Kevin Huerter (left dislocated shoulder and labral tear) will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery and is slated to be ready for the start of the 2024-25 season.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will play their third game of this final road trip, heading to Brooklyn to take on the Nets (30-47) in another pivotal matchup. Brooklyn, who are ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference, is eliminated from postseason contention at this point but the stakes remain high for the Kings.

After their loss to Boston, they have an identical record to the ninth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. For the sake of the having at least two play-in opportunities, maintaining top-eight in the conference will be essential as the postseason grows near.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Sunday, April 7th – Sacramento Kings @ Brooklyn Nets – 4:30 PM PST
  • Tuesday, April 9th – Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 5:00 PM PST
  • Thursday, April 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, April 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, April 14th – Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 12:30 PM PST

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