Sacramento falls short in narrow 120-117 loss to Atlanta
It appeared as if the Sacramento Kings were on the verge of pulling out another close victory as they held a 117-113 lead over the Atlanta Hawks with just over a minute remaining on Wednesday night.
With another sellout crowd on hand at Golden 1 Center, the Kings battled back from a late seven-point deficit to jump out in front by two possessions, but the Hawks got the last laugh in this one.
Dejounte Murray’s late free throws and game-sealing swipe from De’Aaron Fox secured a 110-107 win for Atlanta.
With the loss, Sacramento (20-17) fell to 0-7 this season when attempting to jump five games above the .500 mark. The Kings haven’t been at least five games over .500 since the end of the 2005-06 season.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 5, 2023
In a game that the Hawks controlled for most of the first three quarters, the Kings made their big move late in the fourth as they erased a seven-point deficit with an energizing 12-2 run that put them out in front 116-113 with 1:16 to go.
Fox, who had erupted for 22 points during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s win over Utah, scored 11 points during tonight’s final period to give Sacramento some much-needed momentum. That momentum would quickly cease as Trae Young’s and-one bucket cut the Kings’ lead to one point, but Domantas Sabonis had a chance to push the lead back to three points with 50.1 seconds remaining as he went to the foul line.
At this point in the game, Sacramento was on the verge of setting a new franchise record for most free throws made in a single game without a miss, as Sabonis needed both shots to fall in order to make the team 27-for-27 on the night.
Instead, the All-Star center missed both shots, giving the Hawks a chance to take the lead, which is precisely what they did.
Sloppy defense plagued the Kings all night as defenders struggled to play defense without fouling, and that aspect of the game would haunt them late as Sabonis sent Dejounte Murray to the line with 31 seconds left. Murray hit both free throws to put Atlanta ahead 118-117, then picked Fox’s pocket for the game-sealing steal-and-score to put this one away.
“We fouled too much late,” Former Hawks guard Kevin Huerter said postgame. “Just a lot of mental mistakes. We got a lead and didn’t lock in enough.”
Sacramento had their chances, but rough play from the bench, too many fouls, and some costly late mistakes sent them to their 17th loss of the season.
DE'AARON PUT 'EM ON A POSTER pic.twitter.com/LE3DxvIm8R
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 5, 2023
Sacramento’s bench has been a strength this season, but that hasn’t been the case over the past 48 hours:
January 4th vs ATL: 17 PTS | 7/18 FG (38%)
January 3rd @ UTAH: 8 PTS | 4/14 FG (28%)
Malik Monk has been working through struggles, as the guard has scored 11 points on 23% shooting from the field over the past two games. Monk has been a massive part of Sacramento’s early season success as his presence allows the likes of Fox and Sabonis to rest without the Kings falling into a hole, but that relief has not been there recently.
The Kings needed their bench on Wednesday, especially on the second night of a back-to-back that included travel. That falls on everyone, not just Monk. Trey Lyles finished the night with five rebounds, but he only took one shot. Davion Mitchell is locking in on defense, but Sacramento needed more offensive impact from the second-year guard.
Old friend Bogdan Bogdanovic matched Sacramento’s entire bench-scoring total with 17 points. It’s going to be hard to win games with you get little to no contributions from your bench.
Keep an eye on the bench during Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, as the Kings will hope to get more out of their second unit.
On Wednesday, a couple of guards faced their former teams as Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic went head-to-head at Golden 1 Center.
Huerter had some big moments lead, including a go-ahead triple with 1:37 remaining. ‘Red Velvet’ finished the night with 24 points (eight-of-15 shooting) and five assists over 34 minutes.
Bogdanovic returned to haunt his former team as the Serbian scored 17 points off the bench while also pulling down eight rebounds during the win.
Domantas Sabonis tied Chris Webber’s Sacramento-era record with his 15th straight double-double on Wednesday night (NBA-leading 28th of the season). The big man finished with 20 points (8/14 FG), 14 rebounds, and eight assists over 40 minutes.
De’Aaron Fox racked up 25 points (9/20 FG), five rebounds, five assists, and two steals over 37 minutes. The speedy guard rolled his ankle during the third quarter but said that he was fine postgame and that his ankle braces saved him from injury: “That’s why I wear them.”
Harrison Barnes added 20 points on seven-of-13 shooting during the loss.
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Sacramento will continue a five-game home stand on Saturday when they face LeBron James and the rival Los Angeles Lakers at Golden 1 Center.
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Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
Saturday, January 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST
Monday, January 9th – Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic – 7:00 PM PST
Wednesday, January 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 7:00 PM PST
Friday, January 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 7:00 PM PST
Sunday, January 15th – Sacramento Kings @ San Antonio Spurs – 4:00 PM PST