SACRAMENTO KINGS

Sluggish offense dooms Kings in ugly loss to Knicks

Dec 11, 2022, 6:08 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2022, 8:50 am

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings is fouled by Isaiah Hartens...

(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings were due for a stinker. Right?

Sunday’s game between the Kings and New York Knicks got ugly in a hurry as Sacramento’s offense fell flat during a 112-99 loss at Madison Square Garden.

Not only did Sacramento shoot 39 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point land, but they also missed 12 of their 35 free-throw attempts (65%) on a night that shots just wouldn’t fall.

With the loss, the Kings (14-11) missed out on an opportunity to tie the Phoenix Suns for first place in the Pacific Division.

New York took advantage of a sluggish Kings defense early as the Knicks finished the first quarter on a 17-5 run to take a 36-22 lead into the second period. Thanks to an ultra-aggressive performance from Julius Randle (27 points during the first half), Sacramento found themselves in a 66-50 hole at the break following what was undoubtedly the team’s poorest half of basketball this season.

The Kings, who have struggled to consistently convert three-point field goals over the past couple of weeks, shot just six-of-21 (28%) from deep during the first half as players like Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, and Terence Davis struggled to find the bottom of the net.

It seemed as if the momentum was beginning to shift Sacramento’s way when Randle was assessed with two technical fouls, resulting in an ejection with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter. The Kings had trimmed a 21-point deficit to 13 and appeared to be making a run of their own, but New York never wavered down the stretch.

Each time that the Knicks’ lead fell to 13 or 14 points, Sacramento squandered opportunities to cut into the lead even further as they continued to let New York collect offensive rebounds. Second, third–and even a fourth–chance opportunities were a difference-maker as the Kings had their chances to make things interesting but couldn’t capitalize.

As good as Sacramento’s defense has been over the past two weeks, the interior defense was a glaring issue against a Knicks team that did much of its damage in the paint on Sunday night.

Sacramento was out-rebounded 62-52 and outscored 58-46 in the paint as New York’s big four of Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett caused a lot of damage from close range.

The Kings, who finished the night 10-of-39 (25%) from deep, weren’t the only team to struggle from beyond the arc in this one, as the Knicks finished the night eight-of-35 (22%) from three-point land. Even though New York had nothing going from the outside, Sacramento’s sloppy play and failure to control the paint proved too much to overcome in the end.

As surprising and fun as this Kings team has been this season, there were still bound to be brutal performances like Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden. Even during the 0-4 start to the season, there hadn’t been a game like this one, as the loss to New York brought back memories of last year’s disappointing team.

It took 25 games for Sacramento to deliver a downright miserable viewing experience, which is a win in my book.

Time to see if this team can make the necessary adjustments, turn the page, and get back on the right track to finish the second half of this road trip on a high note.

Doomed By A Rough Start

The first quarter of Sunday’s game was awful–and you would think that the rest of the game went the same way from the eye-test, but that wasn’t the case.

Sacramento went on to outscore the Knicks during quarters two-through-four, holding New York to just 40 percent shooting from the field and 13 percent from three-point range during the second half. If it weren’t for a Randle’s 17-point outburst in the opening period, the Kings might have had a chance–even with their struggling offense.

Of course, the game of basketball is four quarters, not three. If the Kings could defend Randle and find its offense, they might have had a happy flight to Philadelphia.

Keegan Keeps It Rolling

Although Keegan Murray finished the game six-of-15 from the field, the rookie played confidently during an 18-point, seven-rebound outing.

The fourth-overall pick from June’s NBA Draft has scored 10+ points in seven-straight games, which marks the longest such streak in his brief professional career.

Sabonis Does It Again

Domantas Sabonis continued to act as a double-double machine as the center finished the night with 20 points (seven-of-10 shooting from the field), 12 rebounds, and four assists over 38 minutes of action.

The 26-year-old’s double-double was his 17th of the season, tying reigning MVP Nikola Jokic for the NBA lead.

Sacramento did a solid job of finding the big man on offense, as Sabonis gave the Knicks big men fits down low (Robinson picked up six fouls over 19 minutes), but the big man couldn’t find a rhythm at the charity stripe. Sabonis finished the night six-of-11 from the free-throw line after entering play, having shot 77 percent from the line over his past seven games.

Rough Night For The Kings Guards

It was a forgettable night for Sacramento’s guards.

Kevin Huerter, who has struggled mightily over the past two weeks, finished the night with 17 points on six-of-16 shooting from the field and two-of-nine from beyond the arc.

Malik Monk, who has played some of his best basketball alongside De’Aaron Fox, looked lost without his backcourt partner as the 24-year-old scored 12 points on three-of-15 shooting from the field and two-of-eight from long range.

Terence Davis and Matthew Dellavedova combined to shoot 0-of-five from three-point land.

The Kings, who entered play on Sunday as a top-six shooting team from deep, will hope to turn things around and start knocking down shots in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Notes

  • Sunday’s 99-point effort from the Kings marked the first time that they failed to score 100+ points in a game this season.
  • Sacramento would have jumped to five games above the .500 mark with a win. The last time the Kings were five games over .500 was April of 2006.
  • The Kings are 1-6 this season when shooting 31% from three-point range or worst this season.

Injury Updates

De’Aaron Fox missed Sunday night’s game due to right foot soreness. Fox has missed two-straight games and is considered day-to-day.

Fox has clearly been in discomfort over the past two weeks as he has dealt with a bruised foot, injured thumb, and lingering non-COVID illness. Some downtime would do the 24-year-old some good, as the team just opened up a week that includes four games over six nights.

Terence Davis (low back soreness) returned to action following a three-game absence.

Alex Len (non-COVID illness) was inactive for Sunday’s game in New York and is considered day-to-day.

Postgame Show

Check out our Sactown Sports Kings Recap Show on the Sactown Sports 1140 YouTube channel!

Sactown Sports Kings Recap Shows will be happening all season long, immediately following each Kings game!

YouTube video

Next Game

Sacramento will continue its six-game road trip on Tuesday evening when they face a talented Philadelphia 76ers team that currently owns the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA.

Get all of your Kings vs. 76ers coverage on Sactown Sports 1140 starting at 3:00 pm PST on Game Night before action tips off at 4:30 pm PST from downtown Philadelphia.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

Tuesday December 13th – Sacramento Kings @ Philadelphia 76ers – 4:30 PM PST

Wednesday, December 14th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 4:30 PM PST

Friday, December 16th – Sacramento Kings @ Detroit Pistons – 4:00 PM PST

Monday, December 19th – Sacramento Kings vs Charlotte Hornets – 7:00 PM PST

Wednesday, December 21st – Sacramento Kings vs Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST

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