Another Day, Another Blown Lead: Sacramento Implodes During Loss To Knicks
For the third-straight game, the Kings blew a 19-point lead during an embarrassing loss to New York on Monday night
It’s quite possible that the Sacramento Kings are allergic to holding large leads.
After leading by 20 points during the first half and opening the third quarter with a 15-point lead, the New York Knicks completely dismantled the Kings over the final 24 minutes of play on Monday night.
Julius Randle established a new career-high of 46 points as the Knicks handed Sacramento its second-straight loss by a final of 131-115 at Golden 1 Center.
With the loss, the Kings (23-42) see their window in the Western Conference Play-In standings shrink to the point where it is nearly closed as they sit 4.5 games out with 15 to play.
It was all Kings–and a lot of Domantas Sabonis–early as the All-Star center scored nine points over the first two minutes of play. Thanks to Sabonis’ hot start, the Kings jumped out to a 12-2 lead before the 10-minute mark.
Sabonis scored 11 points in the period on four-of-six shooting to help lead Sacramento to a 33-17 lead after one-quarter of play. The defense also came up big in the first as New York was held to just 26-percent shooting from the field and 11-percent from beyond the three-point line.
Sacramento’s lead stretched to 20 points during the second quarter before the half ended with the Kings in front 63-48.
Sabonis posted a double-double before the halftime break, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 boards while getting Knicks big men into foul trouble with his imposing play in the paint.
De’Aaron Fox followed up Saturday’s career night with 10 points in the first half, but the talented guard notably put himself on triple-double watch after pulling down four rebounds and dishing out five assists before the end of the second quarter, including a dime to Damian Jones for a poster hammer.
When the second half started, it was almost as if a completely different Kings team emerged from the locker room.
The upbeat defense that was seen in the first half completely disappeared in the third quarter, with New York quickly erasing the 15-point deficit with a 39-19 run to take their first lead of the night.
After beginning the game four-of-19 from three-point range, the Knicks shot seven-of-13 from beyond the arc during the third quarter as New York outscored the Kings 44-24 in the period.
Sacramento’s 20-point lead from the closing seconds of the first half turned into a five-point deficit entering the fourth quarter.
The offensive onslaught would continue for the Knicks in the fourth quarter as they put this one away after opening up the fourth quarter with a 15-7 run to take a 107-94 lead with 6:48 remaining.
After leading 33-17 following the first quarter, Sacramento was outscored 114-82 for the remainder of the game.
For the third-straight game, Sacramento watched a 19-point lead evaporate into thin air due to poor second-half defense and failed execution down the stretch. Whatever the Knicks wanted on offense, they got without much issue.
Julius Randle gave Domantas Sabonis fits in the second half, with Sabonis’ frustrations reaching a boiling point late in the fourth quarter. Sabonis was ejected for the first time in his career after bumping into referee Joshua Tiven, resulting in an automatic ejection.
Sabonis will likely be disciplined further after making contact with a referee, with a suspension likely to be handed out by the NBA in the coming days.
Randle finished the night with 46 points–a new career-high–on 18-of-31 shooting from the field and eight-of-16 from three-point range. Sacramento had absolutely no chance in slowing down the veteran forward–or the rest of the Knicks offense, for that matter.
“We keep getting these leads playing the right way and then we come out in the second half and can’t sustain it,” Sabonis said of the meltdown. “It gets frustrating, especially when you’re fighting for position.”
To put it bluntly, the Play-In talk is officially over.
The Kings are 4.5 games out of the 10th-spot with 15 games to play and their next six games coming against teams with .590 winning percentages or higher.
With Nikola Jokic coming to town on Wednesday and Sabonis likely to be unavailable, things could be on the verge of completely falling apart for this team in the coming days.
There is some good news, though: Sacramento owns its first-round pick. By losing on Monday, they move to within 2.5 games of the fourth-spot in the NBA Draft Lottery.
Following another abysmal performance, there isn’t much else to say. We have seen this before–too many times this season, really.
15 games to go. You know what you have in Fox and Sabonis. You have a first-round pick that could become a massive asset if it falls within the top four.
It’s time to shut it down.
Rounding Out The Box Score
For the 13th-straight game, De’Aaron Fox topped the 20-point mark on Monday night.
The speedy guard finished the night with 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field to go along with six rebounds, seven assists, and one steal over 41 minutes.
Since the Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985, only Chris Webber (18 games & 15 games) has scored 20+ points in more consecutive games.
Nobody in the NBA currently has a longer double-double streak than Domantas Sabonis.
The 25-year-old center posted his eighth-straight double-double and 44th of the season before the end of the second quarter on Monday. Sabonis finished the night with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists over 37 minutes before being ejected during the fourth quarter.
Sabonis also established a new Sacramento era (1985-present) record with his eighth-straight game posting 10+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists, breaking Chris Webber’s seven-game streak from the 2002-03 season.
- Richaun Holmes was a late scratch on Monday due to personal reasons.
- Moe Harkless was ruled out shortly before tip-off due to ankle soreness. He is considered day-to-day.
- Jeremy Lamb (left hip soreness) missed his second-straight game and is considered day-to-day.
- Terence Davis will be re-evaluated in two months after undergoing successful surgery to repair a right wrist ECU tendon injury.
Things certainly don’t get any easier for the Sacramento Kings in the coming days as they will begin an absolutely brutal six-game stretch of games against formidable playoff contenders on Wednesday night when they face the Denver Nuggets.
Denver is 3-0 when facing the Kings this season, with the most-recent matchup taking place on February 26th at Ball Arena: a 115-110 Nuggets win behind 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists from Nikola Jokic.
Be sure to get all of your Kings vs Nuggets coverage right here on Sports 1140 KHTK beginning at 3:00 pm PST on The Nick Cattles Show before a 7:00 pm PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.
Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
- March 9th vs Denver Nuggets
- March 12th @ Utah Jazz
- March 14th vs Chicago Bulls
- March 16th vs Milwaukee Bucks
- March 18th vs Boston Celtics