SACRAMENTO KINGS

Kings’ offense disappears in blowout loss to Rockets

Nov 4, 2023, 7:28 PM | Updated: 8:09 pm

HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 04: Fred VanVleet #5 of the Houston Rockets attempts the shot over Chris ...

(Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Following a heartbreaking loss against the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings needed a bounce-back performance to rinse the sour taste of defeat out of their mouths.

Instead of bouncing back, the Houston Rockets pushed the Kings further into a hole as Sacramento suffered a 107-89 loss at the Toyota Center on Saturday night.

Aside from a brief stretch where the Kings took a one-point lead during the third quarter, Houston remained in complete control from the tip until the final buzzer in what was Sacramento’s roughest offensive performance in over a year.

The Kings’ 89 points are the least they have scored in a game since the 2021-22 season, when they were held to 85 points by the Brooklyn Nets on February 14, 2022.

With the loss, Sacramento (2-3) also saw its six-game head-to-head winning streak against the Rockets come to an end.

Here are some thoughts on a rough night in Texas before the Kings prepare for a rematch against Houston on Monday back at the Toyota Center.

A Start To Forget

Since the start of last season, it’s been rare to see the Kings get the wind taken out of their sail early, especially in the first quarter of a game.

On Saturday, for what felt like the first time in years, Sacramento got throttled by Houston on both ends of the floor as fans were still getting settled into their seats.

The Rockets led by as many as 17 points during the first quarter while the Kings’ usual lethal offense fell flat, shooting just 38 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep while turning the ball over five times.

Houston set the nets on fire during the first, shooting 56 percent from the field and five-of-ten from three-point range to take a 33-19 lead into the second period while Sacramento searched for some form of life on the offensive end.

The Bench Brings The Heat, While The Starters… Don’t

As the Kings struggled to find a rhythm on offense, two players had a large hand in keeping the game from getting out of hand before the halftime break:

JaVale McGee and Chris Duarte.

McGee and Duarte paced a 14-5 run to open the second quarter as Sacramento’s bench calmed things down before the double-digit deficit got out of control.

Both McGee and Duarte scored 10 points before the break as the Kings’ second unit scored 30 of the team’s 53 first-half points to pick up after the mess that the starters left behind.

Sacramento’s bench went on to outscore the starters 47-42 as Keegan Murray (1/8 from 3PT) and Kevin Huerter (2/8 FG) continued to struggle shooting the basketball.

Malik Monk led all Kings scores with 18 points during the losing effort, while McGee (12 points), Duarte (10 points), and Colby Jones (five points) pitched in off the bench.

The Kings starting five did not show up on Saturday:

  • 42 points
  • 16/44 FG (36%)
  • 5/21 3PT (23%)
  • +/- (-17)

A Horrific Third Quarter

What if I told you that the Houston Rockets didn’t score for a seven-minute stretch during the third quarter… And still opened up the fourth with a lead.

Houston was stuck on 64 points for seven minutes of the third period, but Sacramento could not take advantage as they scored just 15 points on six-of-23 (26%) shooting from the field.

The Rockets, who scored 12 points on three-of-23 (13%) from the field, somehow kept their lead–aside from the Kings briefly taking a one-point lead for a matter of seconds–heading into the final period.

When looking at Sacramento’s mistakes from Saturday’s loss, the opening period and abysmal performance in the third stand out the most, as the game was there for the taking late, and the Kings couldn’t answer the call.

No Murray or Huerter, Big Problem

Through five games, Sacramento has relied on the three-ball far too much, especially over the past two contests.

Instead of attacking the paint and going at the Rockets’ interior defense, the Kings often pulled the ball back out and chucked (mostly contested) three-point field goal attempts on Saturday night.

After going 11-of-35 (31%) from deep against Golden State on Wednesday, Sacramento went 11-of-41 (28%) from three-point range against Houston.

With De’Aaron Fox sidelined, it’s become a lot more important for players like Keegan Murray and Kevin Huerter to find their offense. After another rough showing from both players on Saturday, it’s hard to see how the Kings can win games while both players struggle to this extent–especially with Fox in street clothes.

Murray, who has sported a wrap on his right hand during the first four games of the season as he treated a thumb sprain, did not have his hand wrapped up on Saturday.

While some might look to the fact that Murray could be finding a level of comfort following his injury, Sacramento can’t afford to play with essentially three starters (Fox, Murray and Huerter) out of action or struggling.

Notes

  • Domantas Sabonis posted his fifth-straight double-double to begin the season (11 points, 15 rebounds). The last Kings player to have recorded a double-double in each of the first game games of a season was Chris Webber in 1998-99
  • Houston hammered the Kings in the paint on Saturday night (54-42)

Injury Updates

De’Aaron Fox (ankle sprain) is closing in on a return to action after the guard did some on-court work following Thursday’s practice.

Fox did not suit up for Saturday’s game, but the All-NBA guard told reporters he’s getting close to rejoining his teammates.

“I feel like I’m close,” Fox said following Thursday’s practice. “I never felt I would miss 2-3 weeks or anything like that, I knew it would take a few days or a week or so.”

Fox is considered day-to-day, but a return on Monday is a possibility.

Trey Lyles (calf strain) will miss both games in Houston and has yet to appear in a regular season game.

Although Lyles has been going through workouts, he has yet to log a full practice and will not suit up until he goes through a full session with the team.

Lyles is considered day-to-day as he works himself back into game shape.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

Sacramento and Houston will take the day off on Sunday before returning to Toyota Center and running things back for the second leg of the two-game set between these Western Conference counterparts.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Rockets coverage, beginning at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 5:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Houston.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

  • Monday, November 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 8th – Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 7 PM PST
  • Friday, November 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder** – 7 PM PST
  • Monday, November 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 15th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, November 17th – Sacramento Kings @ San Antonio Spurs – 4:30 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play

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