There have been countless heartbreaks in the past couple of weeks. The Kings find themselves with an opportunity to snatch a game in the final seconds but have come up short multiple times. With the San Antonio Spurs defeating the Atlanta Hawks earlier today and this Sacramento loss, the Kings are now four games behind the Spurs for the eighth seed with 18 games left to play. Hope is a speck of dust at this point but I’m so proud of the team for the tremendous progress they have made this season.
The first quarter provided some fun moments for both sides. Willie Cauley-Stein was having his way down low as he went up to nine points on 4-4 shooting along with four rebounds and two assists. Buddy Hield was active as well, dropping nine points on 4-8 shooting. The Kings were 14-22 from the field in the quarter, good for 62% and shot 3-5 from three. The Celtics attempted 12 threes and converted on four of them, with Terry Rozier drilling one at the buzzer. Rozier led his team with 10 points on 4-6 shooting. Kings led 32-26 at the end of one.
After the Kings scored 32 in the first, the Celtics played much better defense and the Kings struggled to get good looks. They went on a scoring drought that resulted in over four minutes and their 38-31 lead wiped away as they started trailing 42-38. Then the Celtics went on a scoring drought of their own that lasted over four minutes and the Kings regained the lead at 43-42. They went into the half all tied up at 49 a piece. While Rozier missed two shots and stayed at 10 points, Jayson Tatum started to take over for Boston when the Kings went on the drought. He finished the half with 15 points on 6-11 shooting but found shots harder to come by when Harrison Barnes began to guard him. Sacramento was led by Hield’s 14 points on 6-13 shooting and Cauley-Stein went up to 13 points, five rebounds and two assists.
The third quarter started poorly for the Kings. They came out flat-footed and the Celtics eventually established leads of 70-61 and 82-72. However, the Kings made a run in the final minutes to cut the lead to five at 82-77. Hield made a shot at the buzzer but his fingertip was still on the ball so it didn’t count. Barnes scored 14 points in the quarter to take his point total to 19 which led all scorers and also grabbed eight rebounds. Cauley-Stein has 17 points and six rebounds. Rozier and Al Horford each scored 16 for the Celtics.
Despite outscoring the Celtics 32-29 in the final quarter, the Kings came up short at the buzzer again. I feel like I’ve written this every other game now. The Kings were trailing 103-97 with three minutes left and of course became the Cardiac Kings again. After Gordon Hayward hit a tough fall away jumper over Hield to make the game 111-109, the Kings had a chance to take the game. However, Hield was defended nicely by the Celtics forcing the ball to go to Barnes. As the scoreline indicates, Barnes deep, contested three came up short and the Kings are back to 32-32.
Harrison Barnes led the Kings in scoring today and also had his best shooting performance in his short time in Sacramento. He finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, one assist and two steals while shooting 8-14 overall, 4-7 from three and 4-5 from the charity stripe.
Buddy Hield had a quiet third quarter but made a big three from almost half court in the fourth quarter to keep things close. He finished with 23 points on 8-19 shooting and 4-9 from three along with eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block.
When De’Aaron Fox pushes the tempo and controls the game by taking opponents to the rim with his blazing speed, it’s almost impossible to guard him. You just have to hope he misses. We saw some of that from Fox but he’s going to have to show it more often because we know he can do it. He finished with 16 points on 7-13 shooting, seven assists and two rebounds.
Willie Money Watch
Willie Cauley-Stein had a really solid game today with 19 points on 8-9 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. He did make a lazy angled pass again to Hield late in the game but Hield prevented a Marcus Smart layup by knocking the ball out of Smart’s hands and it went off Smart out of bounds. Overall, Willie made nice plays on both ends of the court.
Despite fouling out, Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 14 points on 5-9 shooting and 4-6 from three. He added four rebounds, three assists and a steal but him playing small forward against much bigger guys is not working in Bogi’s favor.
Sacramento shot 13-29 from three, good for 45%. This is a good sign for a team struggling from three recently.
However, they were 16-22 from the free throw line (73%) which is right around their season average. That needs to improve. Boston shot 18-21 (86%). It can be a difference maker.
Sacramento won the rebound battle at 40-35 but loss the assist battle 26-23.
Each team had 18 turnovers, but the Kings capitalized more with 21 points to Boston’s 17.
Sacramento easily took the fast break battle at 23-9 and points in the paint at 44-36.
The Kings start an East Coast trip as they go to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks this Saturday at 9 a.m. (PST). Yes, you read that right. Wake up early if you want to watch the game West Coast folks! The Knicks also played today and lost to the Phoenix Suns 96-107.