It’s getting repetitive to write this for the third straight time, but the Sacramento Kings just can’t keep leads to win games. After a near-perfect first half by Sacramento, they collapsed immediately into the third quarter and Jamal Murray was scorching hot in the second half. Murray had two points in the first half but 34(!) in the second. The Kings are now 19-19 and while there’s still a long way to go, you may look back at these losses if the Kings miss out of the playoffs again.
Both teams were playing well to start, with Nemanja Bjelica and Nikola Jokic being the standouts. There were seven lead changes in the game and as the Kings held a 30-25 lead late in the quarter, Denver went on a 5-0 run to make it 30-30 at the end of the first. Bjelica was 5-7 from the floor for 12 twelve points, four rebounds and two assists. His three from Serbia went in and out. Jokic had 10 points and three rebounds. Buddy Hield had seven points and two assists while Harry Giles got early minutes and scored four points with an assist.
What an excellent quarter for the Kings, outscoring Denver 36-23 in the second! They led 66-53 at the end of the first half. The bench played big minutes for Sacramento. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 11 off the bench on 4-5 shooting. Yogi Ferrell had seven points on 3-4 shooting including a steal that led into a pull-up three. Giles continued to look good, with six points, three rebounds and two assists in seven minutes. Hield had 12 points and De’Aaron Fox scored nine on 4-5 shooting with three rebounds and two assists as well. Jokic continued to keep the Nuggets in the game in this half, scoring 19 on 7-11 shooting and grabbing four rebounds. The only negatives were Iman Shumpert (0-5, 0-4 from three) and the refs, who made awful call after awful call against Sacramento.
After a great first half for Sacramento, they completely unraveled in the third. Denver outscored them 31-18 with a big 13-0 run to start the quarter. The lead was 78-77 for quite some time for the Kings but Willie Cauley-Stein missed three straight times and Denver finally capitalized to take the lead. The two teams went back and forth in the final minute. A possible Bjelica buzzer beater was waved off. Hield led the Kings with 18 points and Jokic had 22. Jamal Murray only had two points at the half but scored 17 in the third. 84-84 at the end of the third.
Welp, the Denver got offensive rebound after offensive rebound, Murray couldn’t miss and the Nuggets are the third team in a row to comeback against the Kings in the second half to win. Hield caught fire from downtown but a heat check miss calmed things down. Murray closed the game out for Denver to win 117-113. Kings drop to 19-19.
Buddy Hield was having a great shooting game and also looked good on defense on off-ball and on-ball situations. Hield finished with 29 points on 12-19 shooting (5-9 from three), two rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Bogdan Bogdanovic only scored three points in the second half, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal. He missed a layup after a beautiful pass from Giles that stings.
Willie Money Watch
Willie finished with 13 points on 5-10 shooting, six rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes. It was another rough game for him, as he had a tough time guarding Jokic and trying to score on him. He also had a four-point play called on him in the fourth. I can’t count how many rebounds he dropped that led to points for the Nuggets. Frustrating.
Sacramento was out-rebounded 54-33. 16 of those for Denver were on offense. Embarassing performance on the glass.
Sacramento shot 50% from the field (45-90) and 42% from three (13-31). They were 8-14 from three at one point in the first half.
Kings win the fast break battle 19-7.
The Game in One Sentence
Marvin Bagley can’t come back soon enough.
It doesn’t get any easier. The Warriors come into town Saturday at 7:00 PM PST.