Sabonis’ Big Night Wasted In Loss To Nuggets
Sacramento opened up the final stretch of the season with a loss to Denver on Thursday night
After eight long days, Sacramento Kings basketball returned on Thursday night.
Of course, the return of basketball also meant the return of the Sacramento Kings defense.
Although Domantas Sabonis had his strongest performance since being acquired during the trade deadline the Denver Nuggets controlled the fourth quarter to defeat the Kings by a final of 128-110 at Golden 1 Center.
With the loss, Sacramento falls to 22-39 on the season with 21 games remaining in the regular season.
While it was nice to finally see the Kings back in action, it was not fun watching the defense continue to struggle in the early going.
Denver shot 56-percent from the field and 41-percent from three-point range during the first quarter to take a 35-25 lead into the second period.
Thanks to incredible play from recently-acquired Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to erase a 10-point deficit. Even though the Kings shot just five-of-15 from three-point range, they were able to trim the Nuggets lead to 63-58 at the break.
Sabonis looked every bit like a two-time All-Star during the first half.
The talented center did it all over the first two-quarters of action, scoring 19 points (eight-of-12 shooting from the field) to go along with eight rebounds and three assists over 18 first-half minutes.
Denver was able to stretch its lead back to nine points in the third quarter, but Sabonis and the Kings answered back with an electrifying 7-0 run to bring the game back to within arms reach.
A lively crowd at Golden 1 Center was energized as Sacramento entered the fourth quarter trailing the Nuggets by just five points, setting the stage for what many hoped would be a fun finish on Thursday night.
While the crowd might have hoped for an exciting ending, they wouldn’t get one.
The Nuggets opened up the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run to extend its lead to double-digits as the Kings stared at a 100-89 deficit with less than 10 minutes remaining. Sacramento had its moments to get back to within striking distance, but the Denver shooting proved to be too much in the end.
Sacramento was outscored 36-23 in the fourth quarter in what was a very underwhelming performance on both ends of the floor to close this one out.
Denver finished the night shooting 55-percent from the field and 15-of-35 from three-point range (42%) as the Kings defense once again proved to be no match for a high-powered Nuggets offense.
Longtime Nuggets forward Will Barton was unstoppable, finishing with a season-high 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting over 32 minutes of play.
With all of De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes on the bench to open the fourth quarter, Denver quickly stretched the lead to double-digits and didn’t look back–all with reigning MVP Nikola Jokic also on the bench.
Prior to the All-Star break, Kings head coach Alvin Gentry said that he wanted to keep one of Fox and Sabonis on the floor at all times.
With no key contributors on the floor for Sacramento, the offense floundered as Fox and Sabonis nearly combined for half of the team’s points.
The three-pointers weren’t falling for the Kings on Thursday(31%), something that proved costly when looking at the game outcome. Outside of Sabonis’ two triples, the rest of the Sacramento offense shot seven-of-26 from downtown.
With 21 games to go, the Kings squandered an opportunity to gain a game on the 10th-seeded Portland Trail Blazers following Golden State’s 132-95 win at Moda Center.
Each passing game is precious, meaning that Sacramento will have to string together some wins in a hurry if they hope to climb out of the 3.5-game hole that they are currently in.
Sabonis’ Big Night
Domantas Sabonis had his best performance as a King during the loss, scoring 33 points (15-of-23 shooting from the field) to go along with 14 rebounds, five assists, 1 steal, and 1 block over 37 minutes of action.
The two-time All-Star has tallied a double-double in four of his five appearances since being acquired by Sacramento on February 8th.
“Being out there with a big that is as skilled as he is is great. He had a hell of a game tonight. We don’t want to let games like that go to waste,” Kings guard De’Aaron Fox said of Sabonis’ night. “When he’s having a night like that, we as a team definitely need to capitalize.”
- Richaun Holmes was ruled out shortly before tip-off due to back soreness. Holmes is considered day-to-day.
- Davion Mitchell (hand soreness) and Jeremy Lamb (ankle soreness) were both active on Thursday after missing one game and three games, respectively.
- Terence Davis will be re-evaluated in two-to-three months after undergoing successful surgery to repair a right wrist ECU tendon injury.
The Kings and Nuggets won’t have to wait long for a rematch. Sacramento will tip-off a five-game road trip on Saturday night when they face Denver at Ball Arena.
Back on January 7th, the Nuggets were able to claim a 121-111 win over the Kings behind 33 points and 10 rebounds from Nikola Jokic. Sacramento is 2-8 in Denver since the start of the 2016-17 season.
Be sure to get all of your Kings vs Nuggets coverage right here on Sports 1140 KHTK beginning at 4:30 pm PST on Game Night with Scott Marsh & Henry ‘The High Flyer’ Turner prior to a 6:00 pm PST tip-off from “Rocky Mountain High” Colorado.
Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
- February 26th @ Denver Nuggets
- February 28th @ Oklahoma City Thunder
- March 2nd @ New Orleans Pelicans
- March 3rd @ San Antonio Spurs
- March 5th @ Dallas Mavericks