Huge second half push gives Kings best 28-game start since 2004-05

Dec 16, 2022, 7:36 PM

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 16: Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket ...

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After a long, six-game, two-week-long road trip, it looked as if the Sacramento Kings had hit a wall on Friday night.

During the opening half of their final game of the trip against Detroit, the Kings allowed the Pistons–one of the worst offensive teams in the league–to take a 63-55 lead into the halftime break. If Sacramento wanted a happy flight home, they would need to make a statement during the final 24 minutes of play.

Twenty-four minutes later, the Kings would prepare for the long flight home with smiles on their faces.

Sacramento’s starting lineup dominated the second half as De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Keegan Murray all topped the 20-point mark during a 122-113 win at Little Caesars Arena.

With the win, the Kings split the six-game trip by going 3-3 as they improved to 16-12 on the season–the franchise’s best 28-game start since 2004-05 when they started 19-9.

Concerns of a tired, traveled Kings team falling into a trap game against the 8-23 Pistons were confirmed early in this one as Sacramento struggled to find its footing in the first half.

Detroit controlled the glass, out-rebounding the Kings 30-19 (8-3 on the offensive glass) while holding Sacramento to just four-of-15 shooting from three-point land over the first two quarters of play. With the Pistons leading by eight points and the possibility of dropping a game to an Eastern Conference bottom-feeder very real, adjustments were needed for one final push.

Those adjustments were made during the second half as Sacramento used a massive 28-8 run to open up the third quarter with authority, as they regained the lead and didn’t look back for the remainder of the game.

The Kings battled back on the boards to out-rebound Detroit 24-23 during the second half, while the offense picked things up to shoot 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range during the final two quarters.

Keegan Murray’s hot start to the third quarter helped ignite Sacramento’s run as the rookie scored eight of the Kings’ first 10 points of the period to erase the eight-point deficit.

With Murray knocking down shots and players like De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis playing like All-Stars in unison for the second-straight game, there wouldn’t be any late-game dramatics as the Pistons had no answer for the aggressive–and efficient–Kings offense.

In-game adjustments have been common with Mike Brown’s team this season, which hasn’t been the case for recent Kings teams.

The fact that this team can look at a deficit, no matter how big, and more times than not make it a ballgame–or better yet, regain control–speaks volumes to how far this organization has come in creating a winning environment. Sacramento, who is already halfway to passing last season’s 30-win total before Christmas, wouldn’t be sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference standings if they couldn’t make the type of in-game adjustments that successful teams make.

Sacramento during the 1st half: Allowed 63 PTS| 123.5 DEF Rtg | Shot 26% 3PT | 9 Turnovers

Sacramento during the 2nd half: Allowed 50 PTS | 102.0 DEF RTG | Shot 50% 3PT | 4 Turnovers

Not bad.

As the Kings return home on the high of a two-game winning streak, they can also take solace in the fact that a 3-3 East Coast road trip isn’t anything to scoff at. Last season, Sacramento went 0-5 on their cross-country road trip during.

That’s what we call ‘progress’. These Sacramento Kings have been showing a lot of that this year.

Fox & The Ox Lead The Way–Again

Domantas Sabonis continues to add to his All-Star resume.

The big man finished Friday’s game with 23 points (nine-of-11 shooting from the field), 13 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals over 41 minutes of action.

Sabonis posted his seventh-straight double-double, marking his fourth consecutive outing with 20+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists. He is the third player in franchise history with 20-10-5 in four straight games or more, joining Chris Webber and Oscar Robertson.

Not bad company to be in.

Sabonis has been a force on the glass over the past seven games, having grabbed 12+ rebounds in six of the past seven games, but the 26-year-old’s defense has also been impressive. The big man posted a defensive rating of 90.7 during the second half on Friday as he continues to act as a plus-defender in the paint.

After missing two games earlier on the road trip due to foot soreness, De’Aaron Fox looks like his usual self.

Fox, who scored 27 points and dished out 10 assists during Wednesday’s win over Toronto, scored 24 points, grabbed five rebounds, and finished with nine dimes against the Pistons. The speedy guard logged 39 minutes on Friday after playing 41 minutes against the Raptors, and he did so looking fully healthy and unbothered.

When both Fox and Sabonis are both at the top of their game, this team is dangerous–but when the other starters carry their weight as well?

That’s a recipe for success.

The Starters Show Up

About those starters.

Keegan Murray topped the 20-point mark for the fourth time in his career, scoring 20 points on seven-of-13 shooting (four-of-six from three-point land) to go along with two boards over 36 minutes. The rookie has looked at ease over the past three weeks of action, having scored in double-digits in nine of the past 10 games.

Harrison Barnes helped put the game away late on Friday as ‘The Black Falcon’ scored nine of his 19 points during the final 12 minutes of play. Barnes finished the game five-of-nine from the field (three-of-four from deep) while also grabbing seven rebounds and swiping three steals.

Kevin Huerter chipped in with 13 points on five-of-nine shooting from the field (three-of-six from three-point range) over 29 mintues.


Malik Monk’s passing this season has been at another level.

  • Sacramento is 6-2 this season when they hand out 30 or more assists
  • The Kings improve to 8-8 on the road. Last season, the Kings only won 14 road games.

Injury Updates

Kevin Huerter (ankle soreness) returned from a one-game absence.

Davion Mitchell (non-COVID illness) was inactive on Friday and is considered day-to-day.

Alex Len (not with the team) missed his third-straight game

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

At long last, the Sacramento Kings will return home to Golden 1 Center.

The Kings will open up a six-game home stand on Monday night when they face LaMelo Ball and a struggling Charlotte Hornets team that currently owns the worst record in the NBA.

Get all of your Kings vs. Hornets coverage on Sactown Sports 1140 starting at 3:00 pm PST on Cattles & Ramie before action tips off at 7:00 pm PST from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

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

Friday, December 23rd – Sacramento Kings vs Washington Wizards – 7:00 PM PST

Tuesday, December 27th – Sacramento Kings vs Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST

Wednesday, December 28th – Sacramento Kings vs Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST


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