Sacramento Kings defense goes stagnant as Clippers dominate in 131-117 win

Nov 29, 2023, 9:31 PM | Updated: Nov 30, 2023, 9:22 am

De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Golde...

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

As fun as Tuesday’s thrilling win over the Golden State Warriors was for Sacramento Kings fans, the second game of the back-to-back against the Clippers wasn’t as kind to those in attendance on Wednesday night.

The Los Angeles star trio of James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George dominated a sluggish Sacramento offense en route to a 131-117 win at Golden 1 Center, breaking the Kings’ five-game home winning streak.

With the loss, Sacramento (10-7) lost its first home game since October 27th’s home-opener against the Warriors.

It’s tough to follow up a win like the Kings’ over their Northern California rivals, especially one nationally televised on TNT that punched Sacramento’s tickets to the NBA In-Season Tournament’s knockout round.

Back-to-back games are challenging, but they’re a part of all 30 NBA teams’ regular season schedules. Outside of De’Aaron Fox’s 40-point effort–the eighth of his career–there wasn’t much else going right for the ‘Beam Team’ in this one.

There’s no excuse for the Kings’ brutal start, but they will get two off days before having to look ahead to Sunday’s showdown against the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

Kings vs. Clippers Takeaways

Harden Turns Back The Clock

James Harden isn’t the dominant scorer he once was during his MVP days in Houston, but you wouldn’t know if from taking in Wednesday’s game.

Harden entered play averaging 14.1 points per game, and the 10-time All-Star surpassed that total before the end of the first quarter as Los Angeles set the tone from the opening tip.

The Clippers led by as many as 22 points during the first half, while Harden led all scorers with 19 first-half points as Sacramento’s offense struggled to find a rhythm from beyond the arc.

Harden and Los Angeles’ offense did not relent following a hot start, as the Kings’ defense got carved up for 131 points on 53/50/77 shooting splits, with Kawhi Leonard (34 points) and Harden (26 points) leading the way.

The 26-point outing was Harden’s highest-scoring game of the season, and his impact on the defensive end (five steals) helped the Clippers score 13 points off of Sacramento’s 14 turnovers.

Slim Chance of Rain

During the Kings’ comeback win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, Sacramento went seven-for-22 (31%) from three-point land during the first half while falling behind by 17 points at the break.

On Wednesday, the Kings were even worse as they shot just seven-of-26 (26%) from beyond the arc, while Los Angeles took a 22-point lead into the halftime break.

Sacramento turned things around and shot 37 percent from three during the second half of Tuesday’s win. Although the Kings benefited from some conversions from deep after the halftime break (six-of-fifteen from three in the second half), too much damage was done early in this one.

The Kings finished the night 13-of-41 (31%) from beyond the arc against Los Angeles.

Fox vs. All

As a team, Sacramento wasn’t firing on all cylinders during the loss, but it was business as usual for De’Aaron Fox.

Fox logged the eighth 40-point game of his NBA career as the All-Star scored 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting from the field over 38 minutes of action.

The 40-point effort puts Fox behind DeMarcus Cousins (nine) for the most 40+ point games in the Sacramento era (1985-present).

After struggling from the free throw line on Tuesday against the Warriors (nine-of-17), Fox turned things around and went nine-for-ten from the charity stripe during Wednesday’s loss.


Sasha Vezenkov turned in his second-straight solid performance as the rookie racked up a career-high 13 points and five rebounds on three-of-five shooting from three-point land.

Domantas Sabonis had–in all likelihood–his worst game in a Sacramento Kings jersey. The center struggled to establish himself in the paint against Clippers big man Ivica Zubac. Sabonis finished the night with 11 points on three-of-12 shooting while only grabbing five rebounds and passing out three assists.

Malik Monk was the only other King outside of Fox, Sabonis, and Vezenkov to finish in double-figures: 15 PTS | 28 MIN

Sacramento has lost seven games this season by an average margin of 15.2 points.

Injury Report

Keegan Murray (left SI joint irritation) missed his fourth-straight game, although the forward logged a full practice on Monday. Murray is considered day-to-day.

Alex Len (right ankle sprain) will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain.

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

Sacramento will take two days off before facing two-time MVP center Nikola Jokic and the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets at Golden 1 Center on Saturday night.

The Nuggets will be playing the second game of a back-to-back after facing the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

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

Upcoming Schedule

  • Saturday, December 2nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST
  • December 3rd-10th: NBA In-Season Tournament Week (Schedule TBD)
  • Monday, December 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 7:00 PM PST**
  • Monday, December 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, December 12th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, December 14th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – 7:00 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Round

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