Celtics end game on massive run as Kings’ losing skid hits two games
It appeared as if the Sacramento Kings were on the verge of taking a lead into the fourth quarter during Friday night’s game in Boston, but things would take a turn for the worst late in the third period.
With the Kings holding an 84-78 lead at the four-minute mark during the third quarter, the Celtics completely flipped the script on Sacramento as they went on a devastating 37-4 run to completely put this game away before the mid-point of the fourth period.
As well as the Kings responded to a rough first quarter in which they turned the ball over 10 times while being outscored by 14, they changed their plan of attack late in the third–something would prove fatal during a 122-104 loss at the TD Garden.
After winning seven-straight games, Sacramento (10-8) has lost its past two games as the team will hope to get back on track on its home floor on Monday night.
DOMAS CAUGHT A BODY pic.twitter.com/G5eBtrWq0x
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) November 26, 2022
Sacramento erased a 14-point deficit during the second quarter as the team’s bench unit acted as the leading charge behind a 40-point outburst. Davion Mitchell’s 10 first-half points and some strong defensive contributions from KZ Okpala had the Kings right back in the game as Boston’s lead was reduced to 64-62 at the break.
The sloppy play that plagued the Kings during the first quarter (10 turnovers) was cleaned up during the second period as Sacramento only turned the ball over two times while shooting 64 percent from the field.
With Boston’s star trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart all battling foul trouble late in the third quarter, it seemed as if the Kings were on the verge of going on a run as they took their largest lead of the game at 84-78 with 4:04 remaining in the period.
Then, disaster struck.
Sacramento went ice cold for the remainder of the game while the Celtics used a 35-4 run to extinguish any hope that the Kings may have been feeling after looking strong for most of the second and third quarters. The Kings had controlled the paint for most of the night, but it was evident during Boston’s big run that the offense had changed its plan of attack.
Instead of continuing to attack the paint like they had for the previous 20 minutes of action, Sacramento began settling for contested mid-range looks and forced three-point field goal attempts while the Celtics made their run. As momentum grew for Boston and the TD Garden crowd became more involved, a sense of panic washed over the Kings as inexperience reared its ugly head.
These Boston Celtics, the reigning Eastern Conference champions and owners of the best record in the NBA at 15-4, are not a team that rolls over easily. The Kings learned that the hard way on Friday night.
Domas hits the tough layup over Horford pic.twitter.com/oCMHvhEdTm
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) November 26, 2022
Attacking the paint was the key on Friday as it was clear that the Celtics had no clear answer for Domantas Sabonis. Boston’s defensive big man Robert Williams did not play due to injury, so the defensive assignment fell on longtime veteran Al Horford.
Sabonis finished the night with 18 points (seven-of-13 shooting from the field), 10 rebounds, and six assists over 33 minutes. Not only was Sabonis the most-efficient scorer for Sacramento, he was also creating offense in other ways by drawing in Celtics defenders to free up his teammates.
The Kings ended up outscoring the Celtics in the paint 50-42 on Friday, while struggling to convert from the outside as they shot a season-worst 25 percent (nine-of-36) from beyond the three-point line. If you lump in Wednesday’s rough performance from three-point land against the Atlanta Hawks (nine-of-31), it’s clear that this team is in a shooting slump right now.
Sacramento shot 38 percent from three-point land during the first 16 games of the season, but they are unable to knock down open looks right now.
Players like Keegan Murray (two-of-19 from three-point range over the past five games) and Kevin Huerter (0-of-6 from deep on Friday in Boston) have been integral to this team’s early season success, and the fact that both struggled mightily during the loss to the Celtics didn’t make life any easier on key contributors like Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox.
Fox himself had an uncharacteristic game as the 24-year-old shot six-of-17 from the field during a 20-point night. When you shoot 41 percent from the field as a team and only convert 25 percent of your three-point field-goal attempts, you aren’t going to win many basketball games–certainly not games against championship contenders like the Boston Celtics.
Friday night’s game was the Kings’ worst loss of the season and largest point differential in defeat, but this offense has shown what it’s capable of during the seven-game winning streak. Now it’s time to see how Sacramento will respond to a two-game skid.
Can the Kings stop the losing streak before it gets out of hand, or will they repeat previous teams’ mistakes by letting the skid snowball? We’re about to find out on Monday night.
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The Kings will return to Golden 1 Center on Monday night for a matchup with its Pacific Division foe Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.
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Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
Monday, November 28th – Sacramento Kings vs Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST
Wednesday, November 30th – Sacramento Kings vs Indiana Pacers – 7:00 PM PST
Saturday, December 3rd – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 1:00 PM PST
Wednesday, December 7th – Sacramento Kings @ Milwaukee Bucks – 5:00 PM PST
Friday, December 9th – Sacramento Kings @ Cleveland Cavaliers – 4:30 PM PST