Kings can’t overcome rough second quarter in loss to Pelicans

Dec 4, 2023, 9:48 PM | Updated: 10:11 pm

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans dunks the b...

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings’ NBA In-Season Tournament run is over.

Monday night’s elimination matchup started off strong for Sacramento, but the New Orleans Pelicans used a big second quarter to lift themselves to a 127-117 win on Monday night at Golden 1 Center.

With the loss, the Kings (11-8) saw their NBA Cup hopes dashed as the Pelicans punched their tickets to Las Vegas for a semifinal matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers or Phoenix Suns that is set to take place on Thursday.

Sacramento’s struggles against New Orleans continued as they fell to 0-3 against their Western Conference counterpart on the season.

The Kings will have three days off before playing their next game on Friday night on the road against the loser of Tuesday’s Lakers vs. Suns showdown.

Kings vs. Pelicans Takeaways

Hot & Cold

You could feel a strong sense of energy in the building leading into tip-off, and the Kings harnessed a rowdy atmosphere into a red-hot start from the field.

Keegan Murray, who scored eight points during 23 minutes on Saturday night, led the charge early by scoring eight points during the first 2:30 of action on Monday night.

Malik Monk was the closer during Sacramento’s win over the Denver Nuggets, and he picked up right where he left off against New Orleans as the Sixth Man of the Year candidate scored eight points during his first two minutes as the Sacramento went 13-of-20 (65%) from the field and seven-of-11 (64%) from three-point range in the first.

While the Kings were knocking down attempts from the field, they turned the ball over seven times during the first 12 minutes as New Orleans battled back by ending the period on an 18-4 run to trim Sacramento’s lead to 36-35.

It was a different story for the Kings in the second quarter, and things got ugly in a hurry.

An aggressive Pelicans offense extinguished Sacramento’s scorching hot offense as the Kings scored 25 points on seven-of-20 (35%) shooting during the second, while New Orleans (57%) found its rhythm.

After trailing by as many as 13 points in the period, Domantas Sabonis (12 points in the quarter) helped keep things close as Sacramento closed the gap to 69-61 at the break.

The Kings’ three-point shooting was an issue during its two losses against the Pelicans last month (29% over two games from deep), and New Orleans turned up the pressure while holding Sacramento to one-of-seven shooting from beyond the arc in the second, with the lone triple being a buzzer-beater from Monk to end the half.

It was a physical start to Monday’s In-Season elimination game, and the Pelicans even had De’Aaron Fox off his A-game as the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week went three-for-12 from the field while turning the ball over a season-high four times.

With a trip to Las Vegas on the line, Sacramento would need to rediscover its offense if they wanted to avoid elimination and lose to the Pelicans for the third time this season–but a complete turnaround never came.

Close, But No Cigar

A tough second quarter would end up being the true difference in this one, as the Kings and Pelicans were neck-and-neck during the second half.

Sacramento made a run late and trimmed the deficit to 110-105 with less than six minutes to go before New Orleans mounted a 9-0 run to put the game away for good.

While the Kings were outscored 34-25 in the second period, the rest of the game was anyone’s game (93-92 Pelicans) as Sacramento dug a hole that was too deep to climb out of.

After the Kings missed 12 of their first 13 shots from the field to open up the second, New Orleans changed the tone of a game that appeared to be heading Sacramento’s way. Instead, Brandon Ingram (30 points) and CJ McCollum (23 points) did enough late to stave off a late Kings comeback en route to securing the victory.


Zion Williamson, who was playing in his first game in front of fans at Golden 1 Center, was held to just 10 points after torching Sacramento for a combined 51 points during the first two regular-season matchups at Smoothie King Center.

Domantas Sabonis was an anchor for the Kings on Monday as the All-Star center posted his second triple-double of the season, scoring 26 points (8/12 FG) to go along with 13 rebounds and ten assists over 36 minutes. Sabonis has 34 career triple-doubles, the seventh-most among active players.

De’Aaron Fox scored 30 points on 10-of-25 shooting from the field but turned the ball over a season-high five times during the losing effort. Fox has scored 30+ three times over the past five games.

After opening up the night 7/11 (64%) from three-point range, the Kings went 7/30 (23%) during the final three quarters.

New Orleans scored 15 points off of 14 Sacramento turnovers on Monday night.

Injury Report

Chris Duarte (left knee soreness) missed Monday’s game and is considered day-to-day.

Alex Len (right ankle sprain) will be sidelined for three to five weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Davion Mitchell (non-COVID illness) returned from a one-game absence.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

Sacramento will face the loser of Tuesday’s Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns game at 6:00 PM PST in Phoenix or 7:30 PM PST in Los Angeles on Friday night.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, December 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns or Los Angeles Lakers (TBD)
  • December 3rd-10th: NBA In-Season Tournament Week (Schedule TBD)
  • Monday, December 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, December 12th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, December 14th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 16th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7:00 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Round

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