Not So Fast: Kings lose to T-Wolves, fail to clinch playoff spot

Mar 27, 2023, 10:10 PM | Updated: 10:12 pm

(Nate Littlefield/Sactown Sports 1140)...

(Nate Littlefield/Sactown Sports 1140)

(Nate Littlefield/Sactown Sports 1140)

The Sacramento Kings will have to wait at least another day to celebrate the end of its 16-season playoff drought.

De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis combined for over 50 points, but the Kings could never get it going from beyond the three-point line, something that proved fatal during a 119-115 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

Not even a sold-out, amped-up Golden 1 Center could push this team across the finish line as Sacramento’s infamous defense struggled to contain a physical, potent Timberwolves offense.

With the loss, the Kings (45-30) likely missed their chance of ending the playoff drought at home, as they will embark on a two-game road trip to Portland that will begin on Tuesday.

Although the Kings got big performances from its star duo of Fox and Sabonis, the rest of Sacramento’s supporting cast couldn’t contribute to a level that put them over the top.

Three-point shooting was a glaring issue for Sacramento on Monday, as the team finished the night five-of-27 (18%) from three-point range–a season-low both in made three-point field goals and three-point field goal percentage.

The last time the Kings made five three-point field goals or less was December 26, 2020. On a night that the offense needed to show up, Sacramento could not take advantage of a Timberwolves team that entered play allowing teams to shoot 37 percent from three-point range (26th in the NBA).

Minnesota kept ‘Fourth Quarter Fox’ in check down the stretch, holding Fox to five points during the fourth quarter as the Kings shot seven-of-23 (30%) from the field during the final period.

The Timberwolves shook off a rough second quarter (39% from the field) to shoot 56 percent from the field during the second half as Sacramento’s defense struggled to secure consistent stops.

“We weren’t able to get stops when we needed, but we also shot 18 percent from three,” Fox said postgame. “We lost a game, but it’s not the end of the world. We have to find a way to get stops and get a defensive rebound, then we can get rolling.”

Fox, who returned from a one-game absence to score 29 points on 10-of-20 shooting, said postgame that he understands fans’ disappointment in the fact that the Kings could clinch away from home, but the guard added that clinching a spot–regardless of the location–remains the top priority.

“I don’t think it’s frustrating to clinch a playoff spot, even if we’re in a different country,” Fox said following the loss. “At the end of the day, regardless of where we’re at, people are going to love it.”

Domantas Sabonis posted his 61st double-double of the season before fouling out late in the fourth, as the All-Star big scored 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting to go along with ten rebounds and four assists over 39 minutes. Sabonis fouled out for the first time since February 24th’s scoring marathon in Los Angeles.

Minnesota got a complete offensive effort from its team on Monday, with seven players scoring 14 points or more during the win.

The Kings, on the other hand, got 53 combined points from Fox and Sabonis, 19 points from Harrison Barnes, and 13 points from Kevin Huerter while the rest of the team combined to score 30 points.

It was an uncharacteristic night for the league’s top offense, especially from a Kings team that has shot 37 percent from three-point range this season (eighth in the NBA).

Unfortunately for 18,151 in attendance at Golden 1 Center and countless Kings fans watching from home, Sacramento wasn’t able to end the 16-season playoff drought on Monday.

While the loss to Minnesota stings, the Kings will have a chance to put the drought in the rear-view come Wednesday night when they face a Trail Blazers team that will be without star guard Damian Lillard, could be shut down for the remainder of the season.

Next Game

Sacramento will begin a stretch where they will play four of the next five games on the road when they face the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Be sure to get all of your Kings vs. Trail Blazers coverage right here on Sactown Sports 1140 beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night with Scott Marsh and Henry ‘The High Flyer’ Turner before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

Wednesday, March 29th – Sacramento Kings @ Portland Trail Blazers – 7:00 PM PST

Friday, March 31st – Sacramento Kings @ Portland Trail Blazers – 7:00 PM PST

Sunday, April 2nd – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 3:00 PM PST

Tuesday, April 4th – Sacramento Kings @ New Orleans Pelicans – 5:00 PM PST

Wednesday, April 5th – Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks – 5:30 PM PST

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