Sacramento Kings Avoid Total Meltdown in Win over Wizards
Imagine blowing a 28-point lead in a single quarter. Doesn’t seem possible right? Well, it happened. The Sacramento Kings were outscored by the Washington Wizards 46-19 in the third quarter, bringing the Kings’ huge halftime lead to a tie heading to the fourth quarter. Fear of humiliation, combined with Sacramento head coach Luke Walton’s ejection, gave the Kings enough energy to secure a sloppy but memorable 133-126 victory.
“I think we changed the way we played in terms of aggressiveness,” said Kings assistant coach Igor Kokoskov after the game, “We have to find that poise and it comes with experience, but also we have to find a way to help each other and go one possession at a time…The main thing is we got to watch a lot of film tomorrow and there’s a lot of teaching points that we can share with the guys”.
“We were in a similar situation like a week ago in OKC and that one we didn’t win. We showed a little more poise today but at the same time we can’t put ourselves in that position,” said veteran guard Cory Joseph.
Sacramento’s first half execution was as good as we’ve seen it this season. The ball was moving, shots were falling, and defensively everyone was locked in. Buddy Hield, who has struggled with his defense this season, took on the challenge on guarding Bradley Beal and held his own. Beal finished the night with 35 points, but had just 12 on 36% shooting at halftime.
De’Aaron Fox stepped up for Sacramento after their third quarter collapse. He led the team in scoring on the night, finishing with 31 points. Fox’s aggressiveness, securing the Kings’ victory, earned praise from his coaches and teammates.
“We want him to do that,” said Joseph when asked about Fox’s aggressiveness. “He is the head of the snake over here. He is driving the bus. We want him to take control of the situation and he is great at doing it…the last couple of weeks he has been very assertive.”
“We need him as a leader. He knows that and he is doing an unbelievable job, these last (few) games but I’d say all of February – since the All-Star break,” added Bogdan Bogdanoivc.
“We all forget how old Fox is and nobody is born with experience,” said Kokoskov, “He’s got unbelievable talent – he is one of the most gifted and talented point guards in the world. He’s the face of the franchise and we put a lot on this kid’s shoulders”.
Although the team defense evaporated in the second half, the Kings had a great night offensively. As a unit, Sacramento shot 56% from the field and 44% (13/29) from three-point range. Nearly 50% of their made field goals came off of assists.
“At the end of the day, right now, with the position that we are in, (a win) is all that matters,” said Fox.
The Sacramento Kings are now in sole ownership of 9th place in the Western Conference, still three games back of the 8th seed Memphis Grizzlies. Sacramento has won three straight, is 7-3 over their last 10 games, and welcomes the Philadelphia 76ers to town on Thursday night.
Joseph, who has been to the playoffs every year in his NBA career, weighed in on the Kings’ playoff chances;
“I think we are in a good grove right now but to be honest I’m not watching (the standings) that closely. For me, I feel like we are in a groove, playing good basketball, and as long as we continue to do that I think we will be fine.”