I’ll be honest, this one looked like a schedule loss heading in. The Kings had two nights of potential weekend Miami fun before an away game against the rested Heat. This is not the recipe of success for a young team, but the Kings have made proving me wrong a regular occurrence these days, and I couldn’t be happier. Let’s get into the game notes.
Both the Sacramento Kings and the Miami Heat got off to a sloppy start that screamed MIAMI NIGHTLIFE. It was bad. It was Buddy Hield and Nemanja Bjelica both had an airball in the first 3 minutes bad. The Heat put themselves together sooner than the Kings did and jumped out to an early lead.
In that sloppy first half of the first quarter, Hassan Whiteside blocked Willie Cauley-Stein on two relatively weak takes to the rim. In the second half of the first quarter when the Kings finally found their legs, Cauley-Stein beat Whiteside in transition twice in a row for two huge momentum shifting dunks. Good adjustment, Willie.
Then the bench unit came in and had nothing but missed jumpers going offensively. Hassan Whiteside went to work, and a near-buzzer-beating jumper by Josh Richardson put Miami up 8 to close the first.
As Tim noted in his excellent breakdown of De’Aaron Fox this morning, the Kings struggle when Fox is on the bench, and that’s exactly what happened to start the 2nd quarter in Miami. Frank Mason couldn’t get the Kings bench offense going, and they quickly found themselves down 10 with Fox checking back into the game. With Fox, Hield, Bjelica, and Cauley-Stein back in action, the Kings erased Miami’s 10-point lead to tie the game up at 51 heading into halftime. It was one of those instances where you could say the cliche the Kings were lucky this game was tied heading into halftime because the Kings really struggled for extended stretches here.
The Kings looked much better start the 3rd quarter than they had at any point in the game thus far. De’Aaron Fox really started attacking, Hield hit found his jumper, and Miami looked a lot like the Kings looked in the first half.
Last season the Kings struggled mightily coming out of halftime. That hasn’t been the case on multiple occasions this season, and it’s a great sign. Not only did the Kings come out hot to start the 3rd, but when the Heat made their inevitable run, Hield and Mason were there to sink shots and make plays to keep Miami from closing the gap. Buddy Hield, in particular, was fantastic in the third. Kings would be rewarded for their good play, bringing an 11-point lead with them into the 4th quarter.
You knew that the Miami Heat, at home, had at least one more run in them. To the Kings’ credit, anytime the Heat got the lead down to single digits, the Kings answered with something. It wasn’t always pretty, there was a questionable foul call or two in there that went the Kings direction, but they kept doing just enough to keep Miami off their back before putting them away for good.
Iman Shumpert hit a pair of 3’s, Fox kept attacking despite suffering what was a (hopefully minor) injury to his back/abdomen/side area. Willie Cauley-Stein was able to successfully solved the Hassan Whiteside problem he was dealing with in the first quarter. The Kings figured out the Miami Heat puzzle and never let up. It was great to see.
The Kings win 123-113, improving to 4-3 on the season, and I continue to watch this team with nervous excitement that this recent stretch may or may not be real, but I’m going to enjoy the wins so long as they keep feeding them to me.
On to Orlando.
Are the Kings good?
Are the Kings good?