Another collapse, another failure. That’s what was on the minds of most Kings fans watching yet another abysmal third quarter, a quarter in which the Kings allowed a 53-53 score entering halftime balloon to an 83-62 Phoenix Suns lead with 4:25 remaining in the third.
But the Kings proved more resilient than that. Despite it being the second night of a back to back, the Kings began to rally, finishing the game on a 52-20 run to complete the comeback.
Dewayne Dedmon, playing for the first time in 6 games and his first meaningful minutes since early December, had his best game as a Sacramento King, tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds in nearly 32 minutes while playing some very solid defense. With Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley both out with injuries, the Kings needed help in the frontcourt and Dedmon answered. While Harry Giles got the start, Giles was not nearly as effective against Deandre Ayton as the veteran Dedmon. It was a much needed performance and Dedmon rose to the occasion. It might be too late to mend the fences completely given he’s already publicly requested a trade but maybe this could be the start of a turnaround for him with the team.
De’Aaron Fox was the team’s catalyst the whole way through, and made big play after big play down the stretch on his way to a team-high 27 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds. He also made all 8 of his free throws, which is a great sign considering his recent struggles from the line.
After the Kings starters gave up an 18-2 run to start the 3rd quarter, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield and Harry Giles never saw the court again. Barnes scored just 2 points on 0-3 shooting and while Hield scored 16 points on 5-11 from the field (including 4-7 from three), most of that occurred in the first half.
Trevor Ariza (15 points, 7 rebounds) and Corey Joseph (10 points, 3 assists) helped change the tone of the game and along with Dedmon made life tough for the Suns on the defensive end. Phoenix would go on to score just 16 points in the 4th quarter in large part due to their efforts. Nemanja Bjelica, who had a very rough start to the game, had a huge second half and finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Kings have now won three of their last four games and have a couple days off before returning home to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Somehow, some way, this team is still just 1.5 games out of the 8th seed.