SACRAMENTO KINGS

Murray Magic: Kings secure sixth-straight win behind Murray’s career night

Jan 20, 2023, 10:29 PM | Updated: 10:36 pm
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

On January 20, 2023, it happened:

The Keegan Murray game.

On a night that the Sacramento Kings struggled to knock down looks on the perimeter, Murray stepped up in a big way as the rookie posted a massive 25-point, 13-rebound double-double–his second over the past two games–to lead the Kings past the Oklahoma City Thunder by a final of 118-113 in front of a sold-out Golden 1 Center.

With the win, the Kings (26-18) won their sixth-straight game–their second winning streak of six games or longer this season.

The Thunder entered Friday night’s game on a four-game winning streak of their own, but Sacramento’s defense locked in during the second half while Murray shined on the offensive end.

Don’t look now, but the Kings hold a 26-14 record since starting the season with an 0-4 record.

Sacramento struggled to slow down a red-hot Thunder offense during the first half, as Oklahoma City drilled 12 of their 21 attempts (57%) from beyond the three-point line.

All things considered, the Kings were lucky to be within seven points at the break after struggling to a four-of-19 (21%) start from deep, but strong starts from Murray and De’Aaron Fox kept Sacramento within striking distance heading into the second half.

If the Kings wanted to pull out a sixth-straight win, they would need to lock in defensively and contain Oklahoma City’s three-point shooting–and that’s exactly what happened.

The Thunder scored 47 points during the second half on 43 percent shooting from the field and just 21 percent from beyond the arc over the final two-quarters of play. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 of Oklahoma City’s 47 points during the second half as the Kings made it difficult for the Thunder to get consecutive looks on the offensive end.

Murray was a crucial factor in closing out Friday’s game as the fourth-overall pick scored 19 of his career-high 29 points during the second half.

During a pivotal stretch of the game with less than six minutes to go and Sacramento holding a 99-96 lead, Murray hit three-straight triples to stretch the Kings’ lead to 108-100–a deficit that proved fatal for Oklahoma City.

At a time where Sacramento typically relies on Fox or Domantas Sabonis to come up clutch, Murray was the closer in what was the 22-year-old’s strongest showing of his young professional career.

 

“I ain’t going to lie… Keegan surprised me tonight,” Kings head coach Mike Brown said following Murray’s career night. “He had a couple of moves that I’m really impressed with. I can’t wait to go back and watch. He had a couple of moves that I am in love with. I’m glad that he’s starting to show what he is capable of.”

It was a historic night for Murray, who became the first Sacramento Kings rookie in almost 32 years to score 29+ points and grab 14+ rebounds in a single game (Lionel Simmons, 1991).

Over 37 minutes of action, Murray scored 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and five-of-seven from beyond the three-point line to go along with a career-high 14 rebounds. Murray also became the second-fastest player in NBA history to reach 100 made triples, tying Luka Doncic.

Not only did Murray cause damage on the perimeter, but the rookie took heed of Brown’s advice and “went and dunked on somebody” during the win.

“When you see the first go in really early, that helps a lot,” Murray said of his career night. “[De’Aaron] Fox spreads the floor out really well, so I just got a lot of easy looks from him.”

On many occasions this season, a different King has stepped up to lead Sacramento to a win.

De’Aaron Fox–many times. Domantas Sabonis–of course. Kevin Huerter. Harrison Barnes. Malik Monk. Trey Lyles.

Now, Keegan Murray gets to add his name to the list. Sacramento doesn’t win tonight’s game without him, and performances like this have fans feeling thrilled about the rookie’s long-term potential.

Mr. Double–and Triple–Double

Aside from Murray’s massive night, Domantas Sabonis did what Domantas Sabonis does best on Friday night:

Stuff the stat sheet.

Sabonis posted his 21st-straight double-double on Friday night–the second-longest streak since the start of the 2011-12 season–while also racking up his fifth triple-double of the season (third-most in the NBA).

The two-time All-Star finished the night with 18 points (five-of-nine shooting), 13 rebounds, and 14 assists in his second triple-double over the past three games.

“He’s for sure an All-Star, Murray said of Sabonis’ 21-game double-double streak. “If we keep winning like we’re winning, he should be in the MVP conversation. He’s a really special player in this game.”

Sabonis leads the NBA in double-doubles this season (33).

Defensive Adjustments

Sacramento’s defense was in shambles during the first half, as they allowed the Thunder to score 66 points on 53 percent shooting from the field and 57 from beyond the arc.

The second half was a different story, as they held OKC to 47 points on 43 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from downtown. Thanks to second half adjustments like securing the perimeter and controlling the paint, Sacramento was able to pull out the win.

“To hold a team like that to 47 points in the second half is big,” Brown said of his team’s defensive effort postgame. “It was big for us to come together as a group defensively and defend the way that we did.”

Kevin Huerter was awarded with the Defensive Player of the Game chain after deflecting six passes and turning in a defensive rating of 94.4 during the second half.

As a team, the Kings held a 100.0 defensive rating during the second half (129.4 during the first half).

Notes

  • De’Aaron Fox scored 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the field in what was the guard’s 20th game this season with 25+ points.
  • All five of Sacramento’s starters finished in double-figures
  • Sacramento has won six-straight games or more on two occasions for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Sacramento Kings 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!

Next Game

See you all in less than 24 hours for the second night of a back-to-back against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Be sure to get all of your Kings vs. 76ers coverage on Sactown Sports 1140 starting at 5:30 pm PST on Game Night before action tips off at 7:00 pm PST from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

Saturday, January 21st – Sacramento Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers – 7:00 PM PST

Monday, January 23rd – Sacramento Kings vs. Memphis Grizzlies – 7:00 PM PST

Wednesday, January 25th – Sacramento Kings vs. Toronto Raptors – 7:00 PM PST

Saturday, January 28th – Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves – 5:00 PM PST

Monday, January 30th – Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves – 5:00 PM PST

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