Sacramento Kings: Surging Offense, Struggling Defense

Mar 7, 2024, 1:15 PM

Rui Hachimura #28 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a shot against Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacrament...

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 06: Rui Hachimura #28 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a shot against Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings in the second half at Arena on March 06, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Seven games are in the books post-All-Star break, and the Sacramento Kings have posted a 4-3 record in those showings.

Surprising (or unsurprising, at this point) home losses to the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are mixed in with crucial victories against Western Conference postseason competition, such as the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves and surging Los Angeles Lakers, both on the road.

All season long, head coach Mike Brown has been emphasizing the importance of improving on the defensive side of the ball, but they’ve found little success in doing so. Of the seven aforementioned post-ASB games, the Kings have allowed their opponent to score 120 points or more on four occasions.

Their defensive rating in that time frame is 118.8, placing them 27th among NBA teams. Teams often target Kevin Huerter in switches, and Harrison Barnes has also struggled in some showings. Coach Brown kept it simple when asked about combating those moments after their loss to the Bulls.

“We’ve got to sit down and guard, especially if it’s not one of their primary, primary guys,” he said.

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Mixing in double teams with varying levels of aggression, more zone defense, and exploring rotationally has led to sporadic encouraging moments. Still, the Sacramento Kings are searching for ways to remain respectable on that end of the floor.

Wednesday night against the Lakers, the Kings often ran three-guard lineups consisting of De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Davion Mitchell, and/or Keon Ellis to aid their perimeter containment and provide added offensive dynamism.

After conceding 37 points in the opening quarter, not aided by their four turnovers and poor transition defense, they held the Lakers to 20 points in the second.

“(Defensively) is where I think we pretty much won the game,” Fox said postgame. “Only allowing a twenty-point quarter, almost regardless of how your offense looks, will keep you in any game. We were able to take that lead and just build off that in the second half.”

“Keon (Ellis) and Davion (Mitchell)’s ball pressure was big for us tonight,” he said. “What Keon and Davion did for us, as far as coming in, pressuring the ball, getting deflections, being able to get out in transition I think was huge for us in that second quarter.”

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Mitchell also knocked down four triples for the second time this season, not missing a shot in the process. While finding ways to improve their defensive consistency will be crucial, it can’t come at the cost of their offensive production—that is this Sacramento Kings team’s identity.

Their fast, physical, and together brand of basketball has led to a 118.7 offensive rating post-All-Star break, third-best in the NBA during that time frame.

There is a direct correlation between the two with live ball turnovers, offensive and defensive rebounding, and the ability for teams to get out in transition after stops. Still, high-caliber offensive production has been vital for the team in California’s capital.

The Sacramento Kings are 30-4 this season when scoring 120+ points, compared to 5-22 when they fail to reach that point tally. With 21 games remaining in the regular season, they will need to toe the fine line of remaining elite offensively while competent defensively.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will travel to Los Angeles on Wednesday night as they will look to create more space between themselves and the 10th-seed Lakers in the Western Conference standings.

With a win on Wednesday, the Kings can secure the regular season series and all tie-breaker scenarios between themselves and the Lakers. Sacramento has beaten Los Angeles in both matchups this season, with the most recent matchup taking place at Arena on November 15th.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Lakers coverage, beginning at 6:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:30 PM PST tip-off from downtown Los Angeles.

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Upcoming Schedule

  • Wednesday, March 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, March 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, March 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 3:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, March 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, March 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST

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