The Sacramento Kings do not enjoy playing the Los Angeles Clippers. In their three games facing Doc Rivers’ squad, the Kings have trailed by at least 18 points, come back within 5 at some point in the 4th quarter, and have still walked away with a loss each time. The defensive intensity of the Clippers’ starting guards, combined with the scoring punch of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell off of the bench, once again proved too steep a hill to climb for the youngest super team in the league.
As has been their habit recently, the starting lineup got off to a slow start, falling down 12-3 within the first four minutes of the game. The Kings refused to attack the paint during that stretch, as seven of their first eight field goal attempts came from outside the paint, and Willie Cauley-Stein was forced to leave when the center picked up two fouls within a five second span. In a bit of a different lineup move, Harry Giles got the call over Marvin Bagley as the first big man off of the bench, but the rookie forward was ineffective in his time on the floor, scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds (all three came on the same offensive rebounding possession) in eleven minutes.
The second quarter was mostly the same formula, with Sacramento missing poorly executed jumpers, while L.A. nailed open three-pointers and flushing dunks, but the Kings did show some life to end the first half. After a Lou Williams and-one runner pushed the lead to 63-38 with 3:42 remaining in the second quarter, the Kings went on a 13-4 run before walking to the tunnels, closing the deficit to 16 points.
The third and fourth quarters showed additional progress from Sacramento’s side of things, as they regularly tore chunks off of the Clippers lead, but as is often the case when a large shortfall builds, the Kings didn’t have quite enough left in the tank to finish things off. A Marvin Bagley hook shot reduced L.A.’s lead to 96-90 with 7:47 remaining, but the Clippers scored on five straight possessions, including three offensive rebounds, to put the game out of reach. Montrezl Harrell led all scorers with 25 points off of the bench, Lou Williams recorded 10 assists, while Patrick Beverley messed around and almost got himself a triple-double, scoring 16 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing 8 dimes. For the Kings, De’Aaron Fox led in scoring with 21 points, Bogdan Bogdanovic had a strong game with 19 of his own, and Willie Cauley-Stein just missed out on a double-double, scoring 9 points and snagging 12 boards.
Player of the Game:
De’Aaron Fox - 21 points (8/16 FG), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
- After a one game reprieve from his poor play, Nemanja Bjelica turned in another stinker. The veteran forward scored just 3 points on 1/6 shooting while also grabbing 4 rebounds in just under 19 minutes.
- Marvin Bagley provided his usual spark off of the bench. He poured in 14 points on 10 shots, snagged 5 boards, and blocked 3 Clipper shots. As has been the case recently, the rookie was granted more playing time than Nemanja Bjelica.
- Justin Jackson struggled to make an impact on the game. He missed all four of his shots, was uncharacteristically noncommittal on defense, and the reserve has only made 6 of his last 29 shots from deep after getting hot in late December. The Kings needs him to knock down open shots more consistently.
- Montrezl Harrell plays harder, meaner, and more aggressive than any Kings big man. Every single player on the team could learn a lesson from watching the up-and-coming forward’s game tape.