With the Orlando Magic coming to town, the Kings seemingly pulled out all the stops to try to drive this tank forward. Shortly before the game, it was announced that the Kings would be resting Kosta Koufos, Arron Afflalo, Tyreke Evans and Ty Lawson, leaving the Kings with a rotation of just 9 available players.
Nobody gave those guys the memo though, because they played some well rounded team basketball to end their losing streak at eight and win just their second game since the DeMarcus Cousins trade. Seven Kings players finished in double digits, led by veterans Darren Collison and Anthony Tolliver with 19 apiece.
The Magic never went away and even threatened to steal the game away late before they missed some open looks and made some incredibly dumb decisions (like fouling away from the ball in the last two minutes, resulting in a technical free throw for the Kings). Elfrid Payton was a menace, dropping a 13 point, 13 assist and 10 rebound triple-double. Nikola Vucevic added 23 including going 3-3 from beyond the arc. Evan Fournier scored 21 points but only made 4 of his 11 three-point attempts, including missing a couple in the final minutes that really might have changed the outcome of this game.
The Kings got contributions from basically everyone, and shot a very good 53.7% from the field and 53.3% from three. They hit 16 threes, two off their franchise-high (set earlier this season). Anthony Tolliver especially was on fire, drilling 5 of his 7 attempts including a couple big ones late in the game.
The Kings got to see quite a bit from their youth. Buddy Hield got off to a slow shooting start, missing 4 of his first 5 shots, but he hit 5 of his next 8 to finish with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. He only had 2 turnovers as well, and generally made much better decisions with the ball. Willie Cauley-Stein continued his aggressive takes to the basket, finishing with 18 points and 7 rebounds. However there were several rebound opportunities that Willie really should have gotten that were instead taken by a Magic player. The Magic as a team had 9 offensive rebounds to just 2 for the Kings, a big reason why the game was as close as it was.
Skal Labissiere only got 20 minutes, mainly because Anthony Tolliver was playing so well. Labissiere still made an impact on both ends of the floor, as he had a career-high 4 blocks to go with his 11 points and 7 rebounds.
With Kosta Koufos out, Georgios Papagiannis got his first real minutes as a Sacramento King. Let’s just say that he didn’t blow anyone’s socks off. He had a couple good moments, mainly on defense where he got a block and forced a tough shot, but he looked lost and nervous out there. His only two points came off a putback dunk but he did get 4 rebounds in just 12 minutes, a good rate.
Langston Galloway played backup Point Guard in Lawson and Evans’ stead, but it’s clear that Galloway is really an undersized shooting guard. Galloway only finished with 2 assists in 22 minutes and really looked to score more often than he tried to make plays for others. He did have a couple of nice possessions where he showcased his ridiculously quick release, drilling back to back threes.
For the Kings players, this win was much needed. Yes, it doesn’t help the tank, but there are going to be plenty of losses as it is. This was a well earned respite from the drudgery for a Kings squad that has been working hard each night.
The Kings now head on the road for a few games, starting on Wednesday in Phoenix. The Suns will be the last non-playoff bound opponent the Kings play for quite some time.
For the full box score, click here. For the opponent’s perspective, visit Orlando Pinstriped Post.