Preview: Can Kings bounce back in rematch vs. Rockets?
Nov 6, 2023, 9:10 AM | Updated: 9:59 am
(Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
During the early stages of the Sacramento Kings’ ugly 107-89 loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, I asked a question on social media:
“Is this the worst start to a Kings game since 2021-22?”
Sacramento often fell behind early during the 2021-22 season and rarely recovered. For the first time in the ‘Beam Team’ or Mike Brown era, the Kings were picked apart early and never recovered on Saturday, giving shades of the past–especially when considering the final score.
Houston held Sacramento’s usually lethal offense to just 89 points, which was the least amount of points scored in a game by the Kings since–you guessed it–the 2021-22 season, or on February 14, 2022, to be precise.
Although De’Aaron Fox (ankle) and Trey Lyles (calf) will be sidelined on Monday, Sacramento will have to find a way to put together a bounce-back performance if they are to avoid a three-game losing streak.
Here are some things to watch for during tonight’s action at the Toyota Center.
Malik is doing it ALL right now 🔥 pic.twitter.com/f09SpsYMJS
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) November 5, 2023
Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets Game Info
When: 5:00 PM PST
Where: Toyota Center – Houston, TX
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 5:30 PM on Game Night
Line: Kings -1.5, O/U: 225.5
Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Rockets coverage, beginning at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 5:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Houston.
Will The Starters Show Up?
As ugly as Saturday’s loss was for the Kings, things could have gotten even worse if not for the second unit.
Sacramento’s bench went on to outscore the starters 47-42 during the loss, and the starting group of Davion Mitchell, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, and Domantas Sabonis struggled to knock down shots:
- 42 points
- 16/44 FG (36%)
- 5/21 3PT (23%)
- +/- (-17)
Huerter, who had a solid bounce-back performance against the Los Angeles Lakers last weekend, has fallen back into a rough patch after going one-of-eight from three-point range and six-of-19 from the field over the past two games.
‘Red Velvet’ is now shooting 29 percent from the field and 20 percent from deep over the Kings’ first eight games of the season.
Things haven’t gone much better for Keegan Murray, who has shown an uptick in aggression on offense, but the shots haven’t fallen for the second-year forward.
“He’s thinking too much.”
Mike Bibby on Keegan Murray’s shooting struggles pic.twitter.com/pTXCIvpExZ
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) November 5, 2023
Over the season’s first eight games, Murray holds averages of 13.0 points and 6.2 rebounds on 34 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from three-point range.
With Fox sidelined, Sacramento can’t survive two concurrent cold streaks from Huerter and Murray, meaning that one or both will need to find the bottom of the net on Monday if the Kings want a stronger chance of getting into the win column.
Living And Dying By The Three
Speaking of three-point shooting, Sacramento has not carried over last year’s success into this season.
In 2022-23, the Kings were one of the NBA’s top shooting teams from three-point range, finishing fifth in made three-point field goals and ninth in three-point field goal percentage (37%).
Over eight games in 2023-24, Sacramento has been one of the worst shooting teams in the league.
Although the Kings rank among the top-ten teams in three-point field goal attempts (second) and makes (eight), the team’s 32 percent conversion rate ranks 22nd out of 30 teams.
Sacramento currently ranks second in three-point field goal attempts per game (43.0), but the results have not translated into wins.
The Kings are shooting 29 percent from deep during its three losses this season, meaning that if the shots aren’t falling, it’s unlikely that Sacramento will find another way to beat opponents.
During Saturday’s loss, the Kings often settled for long jumpers instead of attacking the paint, and that cost them down the final stretch. Sacramento went five-for-23 (21%) from beyond the arc during the second half, while Houston had 10 of its 16 second-half baskets come from inside the paint.
Dillon Brooks did his THING tonight against the Kings!
Watch him work ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/7AqyopL2Lp
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 5, 2023
Don’t Let Brooks Beat You
Dillon Brooks was his usual emphatic self on Saturday, but instead of being a disruptor on the defensive end, the forward played the role of scorer.
Brooks scored 26 points on nine-of-14 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, and he was letting the Kings know that he was the one causing damage during the final stretch by blowing kisses toward Sacramento’s bench.
“If I was Dillon tonight, I would’ve flexed too,” Sacramento head coach Mike Brown said following Saturday’s loss. “I’m okay with that if he wants to do that. That shouldn’t motivate us to play harder come Monday. Our performance and us looking at ourselves in the mirror should want us to go play harder on both ends of the floor.”
Watching Brooks taunt other teams might not bother Kings fans, but Saturday’s game was tough to watch as the usually-defense-first forward carved up Sacramento’s defense.
De’Aaron Fox (ankle sprain) is closing in on a return to action but will not suit up on Monday night.
The All-NBA guard told reporters he was getting close to rejoining his teammates before Sacramento departed for the trip to Houston.
“I feel like I’m close,” Fox said following Thursday’s practice. “I never felt I would miss 2-3 weeks or anything like that, I knew it would take a few days or a week or so.”
Fox is considered day-to-day, but a return on Wednesday is a possibility.
De’Aaron Fox says he never thought his ankle injury would keep him for several weeks.
“I feel like I’m almost there… I never felt I would miss 2-3 weeks or anything like that, I knew it would take a few days, or a week or so… I mean, I would have loved to play yesterday.” pic.twitter.com/FtuhzUMzND
— Frankie Cartoscelli (@FCartoscelli3) November 2, 2023
Trey Lyles (calf strain) will miss both games in Houston and has yet to appear in a regular season game.
Although Lyles has been going through workouts, he has yet to log a full practice and will not suit up until he goes through a full session with the team.
Lyles is considered day-to-day as he works himself back into game shape.
- Tari Eason – OUT (left lower leg stress reaction)
- Victor Oladipo – OUT (left patellar tendon repair)
- Amen Thompson – OUT (right ankle sprain)
Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
- Monday, November 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
- Wednesday, November 8th – Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 7 PM PST
- Friday, November 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder** – 7 PM PST
- Monday, November 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – 7:00 PM PST
- Wednesday, November 15th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST
- Friday, November 17th – Sacramento Kings @ San Antonio Spurs – 4:30 PM PST
** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play