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Kings 99, Suns 92: The Fourth Awakens

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Zach Randolph and the Kings stepped up in the fourth quarter to put the Suns away.

Kimani Okearah

Winning might not be a priority for the Kings this year, but they sure as heck aren’t acting like it. Since starting the season 1-8, the Kings have gone a very respectable 8-10 despite a road heavy schedule and being the underdogs almost every night.

Sacramento’s victory over the Suns wasn’t the prettiest, but they stepped up when it mattered most, outscoring Phoenix by 7 in the final frame, including going on an 11-0 run to secure the lead for good after the Suns got up by five.

Zach Randolph was once again huge for the Kings, especially down the stretch. For most of the game, he was bothered by Phoenix’s size and length, but when crunch time hit, Z-Bo delivered, scoring points and dishing assists when needed. He finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in just 27 minutes, and 11 of those points came in the fourth quarter to help the Kings secure this victory.

George Hill was also instrumental to this win, having perhaps his best game since the early season win in Dallas. Hill scored a team-high 18 points on 6-9 shooting to go with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Hill played well enough that he merited crunch time minutes, something that has not been the case for a while now. Plus-minus can be a very flawed stat, but Hill’s team-high plus-minus of +12 was merited.

Sacramento’s starters continue to get off to slow starts and Garrett Temple continued his recent cold streak, going 0-5 from the field. Temple’s shots weren’t even bad, he’s just missing right now.

Willie Cauley-Stein returned from injury and while he looked a bit rusty and fatigued at times, he still managed 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in nearly 30 minutes off the bench. The bench as a whole was once again fantastic, with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield also scoring in double digits. Frank Mason shot just 2-8 but still had a very good game with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Mason continues to look very comfortable running the second unit.

Despite not having Devin Booker, the Suns gave the Kings all they could handle. T.J. Warren led them in scoring with 18 points, but took 24 shots to do so. Warren looked best when slashing to the rim rather than settling for outside jumpers, and didn’t make one of his 4 three-point attempts. Tyler Ulis and Mike James were the only other Suns to finish in double digits, but every other Suns player scored at least 7 points to provide a somewhat balanced scoring effort.

Turnovers were a big factor in Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, but the Kings cut them down noticeably against Phoenix with only 9 as a team to 21 assists. Sacramento also dominated second chance points 18-10 and even got to the line more than the Suns (22 attempts to 14).

Thus ends the Kings brief stint at home before they now go back on the road for a four game trip starting Thursday in Minnesota.

For the opponent’s perspective, visit Bright Side of the Sun.

Random Observations:

  • Josh Jackson did not look good in this game. For a player that many Kings fans coveted in the draft, Jackson doesn’t look particularly ready for NBA action despite having ideal size and length for an NBA wing. Jackson scored just 7 points on 3-14 shooting and had 4 turnovers to boot.
  • Dragan Bender was once touted as a potential star, but at this point I feel like maybe his upside is a roleplaying stretch four.
  • Mike James probably deserved to be in the NBA sooner than this year. He’s a solid player that could probably really help a team that’s much better than the Suns.
  • Troy Daniels was 3-10 from the field and they were all three point attempts. Hey if you know what you do well, do it.
  • Dave Joerger played a fairly tight rotation tonight, going with just 10 players rather than his usual 11 or 12. Vince Carter, Justin Jackson and Malachi Richardson all got DNPs, but it also felt even tighter because Skal Labissiere and Garrett Temple only got about 15 minutes each despite starting.
  • De’Aaron Fox really showcased his quickness on a few plays in transition this game and I’d really like to see him utilize that more.
  • George Hill spoke with Kayte Christensen after the game and revealed that he had lost a family member back home and that’s why he was away from the team.