Murray’s career-high helps pace Kings to blowout win over Clippers
During the hours leading up to Saturday’s matchup between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers, news broke that All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would not suit up due to injury.
Once the word got out, it sent a flurry of mixed emotions toward Sacramento as it became clear that they would enter the game with a clear advantage. The issue, of course, is that the Kings have a history of losing to short-handed teams, meaning that a matchup with a depleted Clippers team could spell disaster.
Well, so much for that.
The Kings (12-9) continue to prove that they are not the same team fans have been used to watching over the years as they thoroughly dismantled Los Angeles at crypto.com Arena by coasting to a 123-96 win to begin a road-home back-to-back on a high note.
Murray powers his way to the basket 💪 pic.twitter.com/ti7wOEkbCs
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) December 3, 2022
Domantas Sabonis quickly helped Sacramento set the tone early as the big man scored 15 points–the most that he has scored in a single quarter as a King–to lead his team to a 38-24 lead after one-quarter of play.
Things wouldn’t get any easier for the Clippers as a strong Kings defense held Los Angeles to just 38 points (the least amount of points that the Kings have allowed in a single half this season) on 28 percent shooting from the field and 14 percent shooting from beyond the arc during the first half.
Sacramento’s high-powered offense did what it usually does as the Kings finished the afternoon with 123 points on 51 percent shooting from the field, but the defense made this win noteworthy.
Los Angeles finished the game with 96 points while shooting 35 percent from the field (the lowest field goal % by a Kings’ opponent this season) and 27 percent from the three-point line, as the Clippers couldn’t find any consistency on that end of the floor.
The 96-point outing was the least amount of points that Sacramento has allowed in a game this season, and the effort came on a night where the Kings hoped to coast its way to victory before heading home to play again on Sunday–and that’s precisely what happened.
After trailing 4-3 just 90 seconds into the game, Sacramento dominated this game in every way en route to securing its second-straight win. Even fans in Los Angeles were calling for the beam to be lit as the Kings ran away with things late in the fourth, much to the confusion of Clippers players.
With the Sacramento Kings up 30, a “LIGHT-THE-BEAM” chant has broken out in Los Angeles.
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 3, 2022
De’Aaron Fox, who is still recovering from general soreness and illness, had another quiet game on Saturday (14 points over 28 minutes). Domantas Sabonis was battling foul trouble for most of the game. Both of Sacramento’s stars played less than 30 minutes, yet the Kings still came out on top by nearly 30 points.
That wasn’t the case a year ago. This team continues to show growth, and Saturday’s win was the latest triumph for a group that is on a trajectory for postseason play.
Keegan’s Career Night
Keegan Murray had a much-needed breakout performance against the Clippers as the rookie scored a career-high 23 points on eight-of-15 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds and two steals over 28 minutes of action.
The 22-year-old has seemed much more relaxed over the past three games on both ends of the floor as it appears that the fourth-overall pick is weathering his first run-in with the ‘rookie wall.’ Murray has scored in double-figures in each of his past three games while pulling down five rebounds per game following two weeks of struggles.
When you’re playing within a Sacramento offense that is currently firing on all cylinders, the game will come to you a little easier, and Murray has been finding success by refraining from forcing shots and by playing within his own game. That’s a spell for success, and Saturday’s game was a perfect example of what the rookie is capable of on a nightly basis when he is in a groove.
Keegan Murray reflects on breaking out of his slump to score a career-high 23 points against the Clippers
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) December 3, 2022
Sabonis Dominates, But Battles Foul Trouble
The NBA Referees Association and Domantas Sabonis need to have a therapy session or two. Or five.
The two-time All-Star center led all Kings scorers with 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field while grabbing five boards, handing out six assists, and swatting two shots over 26 minutes of action. Why did Sabonis only log 26 minutes, you ask? The same reason why the center continues to spend chunks of minutes on the bench during the later parts of games:
Sabonis, who entered play on Saturday averaging 3.8 personal fouls per game (third-most in the NBA), picked up three fouls during the first half and was forced to go to the bench amid a dominant stretch of play that helped put Sacramento up by nearly 30 points during the second quarter.
The big man finished the game with five fouls, but luckily, the Kings didn’t need to worry about having its star center on the floor late in the fourth quarter. Some whistles came down to Sabonis’ over-aggressiveness, but some calls were indeed questionable–something that hasn’t been out of the ordinary for Sabonis this season.
Still, even battling foul trouble, Sabonis has played his way into All-Star discussions as the 26-year-old finds ways to make an impact each time the basketball is in his hands.
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It will be a quick turnaround for the Kings as they will return home for a Sunday matinee against the Chicago Bulls to complete the back-to-back,
Be sure to get all of your Kings vs Bulls coverage on Sactown Sports 1140 starting at 1:30 pm PST on Game Night before action tips off at 3:00 pm PST from downtown Sacramento.
Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
Sunday, December 4th – Sacramento Kings vs Chicago Bulls – 3:00 PM PST
Wednesday, December 7th – Sacramento Kings @ Milwaukee Bucks – 5:00 PM PST
Friday, December 9th – Sacramento Kings @ Cleveland Cavaliers – 4:30 PM PST
Sunday, December 11th – Sacramento Kings @ New York Knicks – 3:00 PM PST
Tuesday December 13th – Sacramento Kings @ Philadelphia 76ers – 4:30 PM PST