Murray, Kings bounce back with gritty win over Magic

Mar 23, 2024, 7:02 PM

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 23: Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings dunks the ball against Franz...

(Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

Over the past 18 years, .500 seasons have been a rare commodity for the Sacramento Kings.

From 2006 through 2022, the Kings did not post a single .500 season while racking up the longest postseason drought the NBA had ever seen. Thankfully for Sacramento, all Mike Brown has known is winning during his head coaching career.

Thanks to Saturday’s gritty 109-107 win over the Orlando Magic, the Kings clinched their second-straight .500 season by securing its 41st win of the 2023-24 campaign.

Brown, the reigning Coach of the Year, has posted back-to-back .500 or better seasons with the Beam Team, as the veteran coach has now won 41 games or more in eight of his nine full seasons as an NBA head coach.

Sacramento (41-29) was able to come through in the clutch on both ends and come out on top at the end of a game that was a back-and-forth affair that featured 19 lead changes and 13 ties.

Keegan Murray found his offense, Keon Ellis had a career night, De’Aaron Fox took over in the fourth quarter, and the Kings clinched another .500 season as they continue to keep pace in the chase for a playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.

Kings vs. Magic Recap & Takeaways

During Jonathan Issac’s seven-year NBA career, the forward has been known for his defensive ability. Naturally, Isaac caught fire against the Sacramento Kings’ defense on Saturday night.

Issac nearly tied his season-high of 18 points during the first half, scoring 17 points on seven-of-ten shooting from the field to help Orlando jump out to an early eight-point lead.

Thankfully for the Kings, multiple players stepped up on offense, with Keon Ellis being the most notable contributor. The defense-first guard scored 10 points (four-of-four shooting) before the break, including both of his attempts from three-point range.

Ellis was one of four Sacramento players who scored 10+ points during the first half, as Domantas Sabonis (12 points), De’Aaron Fox (10 points), and Keegan Murray (10 points) had their offense going early to keep the Kings close with the Magic, as Orlando took a slim 56-54 lead into the third quarter.

Sacramento locked in both ends of the floor to begin the second half, holding Orlando scoreless for nearly five minutes while stringing together a 17-2 run to take its largest lead of the night at 74-65.

In a game that was a back-and-forth battle for nearly the duration of regulation, the Magic turned the tables by holding the Kings without a field goal for four minutes while taking back the lead with seconds remaining in the period. De’Aaron Fox’s buzzer-beating triple knotted things up at 81-81 heading into the fourth quarter, setting the stage for another wild finish between these two teams.

A close game in the fourth quarter can only mean one thing for Fox, the Reigning Clutch Player of the Year: Time to go to work.

Fox helped set the tone early in crunch time, scoring seven points during the opening minutes of the fourth as Sacramento took a slim lead. ‘Swipa’ would get help from his teammates down the final stretch, with Ellis putting an exclamation point on a career night for the second-year guard.

Ellis’ clutch step-back triple gave the Kings a six-point lead with less than two minutes to go, and just like that, Sacramento was in business.

The Kings did what they had to on both ends of the floor during the final minutes of regulation, answering each Magic basket and coming away with two big stops on Orlando’s game-winning attempts to seal the win.

On the heels of Thursday’s disappointing loss to the NBA-worst Washington Wizards, Sacramento turned around and defeated the Magic on their home floor–a location that Orlando entered play holding a 25-9 record this season.

Three-point shooting was key in the win, as the Kings overcame a rough four-game stretch (29% from three during those games) by converting 37 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc on Saturday. The Magic never found a rhythm from deep, finishing the night 10-of-35 (28%), including three-of-11 (27%) in the fourth.

Fox led the way for the Kings, scoring 31 points (10-of-22 shooting) to go along with eight rebounds over 36 minutes.

The All-NBA guard’s backcourt mate Ellis scored 18 points (career-high) on four-of-nine shooting from three, grabbed five rebounds, passed out six assists, and swiped two steals over 37 minutes.

Ellis’ energy on both ends came at a much-needed time as Malik Monk struggled (0/11 FG), but between Fox, Ellis, Sabonis, and Murray, Sacramento got more than enough offense to secure the win and pull back to within a half-game of the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings with 12 games remaining.

Sabonis Ties Love

Domantas Sabonis tied Kevin Love for the longest double-double streak since the NBA-ABA merger (1976-77), scoring 21 points (7/14 FG), grabbing 14 rebounds, and handing out eight assists to post his 53rd-consecutive double-double,

Sabonis also set a new career high for double-doubles posted during a single season with 66 (leads the NBA this season), besting his previous high of 65 one year ago.

Love racked up 53 straight double-doubles during the 2010-11 season while playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Sabonis can establish a new modern-day record with another strong performance at Golden 1 Center on Monday night.

The 27-year-old leads the NBA with 66 double-doubles and 24 triple-doubles on the season.

Murray Catches Fire

The Kings have a different look when Keegan Muray is locked in on offense, and Saturday’s game featured a much-needed bounce-back showing for the second-year forward.

Murray entered play in Orlando averaging 13.0 points on 40 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent from three-point range over his past four games. Over 38 minutes of action against the Magic, Murray found the bottom of the net–often, too.

Last year’s fourth-overall pick finished the night with 22 points–his highest-scoring game since March 26th–on eight-of-12 shooting from the field and six-of-seven from downtown. Murray also pulled down seven rebounds and blocked two shots during the win.

Sacramento is now 10-5 this season when Murray scores 20+ points.

Injury Updates

The Kings announced on Thursday that Kevin Huerter had suffered a left shoulder dislocation and labral tear. Huerter does not have a timetable for his return.

Trey Lyles is set to be reevaluated next week after suffering a left knee MCL sprain on March 12th.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will return to Golden 1 Center for a crucial four-game homestand that will begin on Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 76ers will be without MVP center Joel Embiid (knee), who is currently working his way back from left knee meniscus surgery. Philadelphia has struggled without Embiid, holding a 9-15 record without their talented big man.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. 76ers coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Monday, March 25th – Sacramento Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, March 26th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, March 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, March 31st – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 6:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, April 2nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Clippers – 7:00 PM PST

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