Just 16 days ago, the Kings played their first game in the post-Cousins era and began the new campaign with a blowout win over the Denver Nuggets. Since that memorable occasion, Sacramento has been unable to win a game and that trend continued tonight.
Dave Joerger stuck with the same starting lineup and Buddy Hield once again had a strong start as he scored 5 of the Kings first 6 points behind a long-ball and a beautiful drive to the rim, while Willie Cauley-Stein continued his recent aggressive, offensive play. The Kings second-year big man struggled from the field, going 0/3, but drew three shooting fouls and made 5/6 free throws to go along with 2 rebounds and an assist. Although Buddy had a solid start, the rest of the Kings players struggled from the field, making only 4 of their 17 field goal attempts. Denver won the quarter 25-19 behind a balanced scoring effort while shooting 55% overall.
The bench-a-teers got most of the run in the second quarter and didn’t make any progress on the deficit. Tyreke Evans knocked down a couple of three pointers and put in eight points overall in the period and Buddy Hield continued to score the ball with five points of his own. Darren Collison continued to lack aggression as he took no shot attempts or free throw attempts in the first half. Mike Malone’s squad walked into the locker room with a 54-44 lead and although no player put up double figures, all ten Nugget players put the ball in the basket in the first half.
Sacramento was able to cut into Denver’s 10 point advantage in the third quarter behind Darren Collison’s increased aggressiveness as well as Buddy Hield’s consistent five points. The Nuggets foul-prone defense allowed the Kings to take 10 free throws, compared to Denver’s 2 and Sacramento was able to put together a couple of mini-runs. At one point, the Kings pulled to within two points with 6:00 minutes remaining, but the Nuggets pulled away again as Garry Harris lit the defense up for 11 points on 5/7 shooting. Dave Joerger’s team won the quarter 25-21, but still entered the fourth down by six points.
The final period was much the same as the first and second quarters. The offense stalled out regularly and the defense faded into the background. Eventually, Joerger went with a veteran-heavy lineup that caused the Nuggets’ lead to balloon. Denver won the quarter 30-23 and the game 105-92.
Player of the Game:
17 points (6/8 FG, 3/5 3P, 2/2 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists
- After grabbing an encouraging season-high 13 rebounds last night, Willie regressed in a major way tonight as he only recorded 5 rebounds in 35 minutes. Although his rebounding took a hit, Willie also dished out 5 assists and hit 7 of 8 free throws.
- Skal Labissiere tries to dunk anything and everything that is anywhere near the rim. The King of Skalifornia had two nasty dunks and ended the night with 7 points and 5 boards. Tonight was probably the first time that he’s really struggled to score the ball, but his confidence stayed high the entire game.
- Willie Cauley-Stein once again led the team in minutes played with 35.5. The second most minutes handed out tonight? Why those went to Buddy Hield. Coach is slowly ramping up the responsibilities for the young guns and the careful approach is certainly paying dividends.
- Tyreke Evans had a Carmelo Anthony-esque scoring night. He scored an impressive-looking 16 points, but it took him 15 attempts to get there. Of all of the Kings veterans, Afflalo and Evans are most clearly and understandably playing for their offseason contracts.
- Ty Lawson oddly fouled out in just 24 minutes.
- Papa G’s Per36 numbers tonight: 36 points, 18 rebounds!