The record will wash away in three days, but Sacramento earned its first victory in Orlando with a spirited second-half comeback against the Clippers, rallying from 21 points down to win the final scrimmage game, 106-102.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led the way with 21 points, including 13 in the second half, as the third-year King finally started to connect from beyond the arc in the final exhibition of the NBA restart. Bogdanovic hit four 3-pointers and Buddy Hield added three, including two consecutive makes in the third quarter to help keep the team in striking distance.
Sacramento found itself in another early hole despite getting a step closer to its starting lineup of choice. Kent Bazemore joined De’Aaron Fox, Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes in Holmes’ first action in Orlando. Still, the Kings first unit had difficulty containing the Clippers, particularly Paul George, as the L.A. was on fire from 3-point range to start the game.
The Kings second unit fought back from a 12-point deficit in the first quarter to take a 27-26 lead, but the Clippers starters poured it on again in the third quarter, this time with Kawhi Leonard taking the lead. That set the stage for Sacramento’s comeback late.
This has been a pattern for the Kings throughout the scrimmage phase, as they’ve fallen behind by double digits each game and made a late rally. They came up short against Miami and Milwaukee, but the third time was the charm.
The team went small in the fourth quarter, alternating Bjelica and Giles at the five while playing DaQuan Jeffries at power forward. It helped to speed up the game and get the Kings in an offensive rhythm, leading to the highest-scoring quarter (33 points) of the contest. Sacramento and L.A. traded the lead for most of the final few minutes until a deep Bjelica three put the Kings up two with under 30 seconds to play.
PROFESSOR BIG SHOTS DOES IT AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/5HOXa3dpSc— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 27, 2020
Given the context of the game, head coach Luke Walton was more pleased that the team managed to improve on its play from the first two games than adding to the win column.
“It’s more important for our group to just continue to work on executing the things we’ve been talking about all camp,” Walton said postgame. “Take care of the ball, I thought we did a better job with that again. Rebounding, we did a nice job. Fouling, we had a couple silly fouls still, but the win is just — it always feels good to win but that’s not as important as other things when it comes to the scrimmage.”
The next time the Kings take the floor, winning will be all that matters. At least they now have some practice doing that in Orlando.