On the final game of the season, it seemed like the Kings were reverting to their worst habits. They got off to a slow start, surrendering 40 points in the first quarter as they let the Lakers — who have been the worst 3-point shooting team in the bubble — get into rhythm long range. It was the fifth time (including scrimmages) that Sacramento has surrendered at least 37 points in the first quarter during the restart.
But like they have so many times this season, the Kings bounced back. Their shots started falling, rotations tightened up, and the energy level picked up as Sacramento completely turned the tied of the game, ultimately ending the season with a 136-122 win.
It was a meaningless game for both sides, with the Lakers having clinched the one seed and the Kings already eliminated, but it was still nice to see the Kings put forth the requisite effort to win a game, even against a semi-depleted Los Angeles roster.
Bogdan Bogdanovic got things going early. He scored 12 of his 27 points in the first quarter to keep the team afloat, and then handed the baton off to Buddy Hield in the second. Hield scored 14 during the second period, and more importantly, the Kings turned a 10-point deficit into a 10-point leading heading into halftime. After scoring 40 points in the first quarter, it took until the final minute of the third quarter for L.A. to get to 80 points.
This was Hield’s best shooting game of the restart, unfortunately too late for it to be of consequence. He hit eight of Sacramento’s 21 threes and led the team with 28 points.
Nemanja Bjelica had the most well-rounded game among the Kings, finishing with 15 points, a career-high 13 assists, and eight rebounds. Bjelica didn’t have to play the fourth quarter with Sacramento comfortably ahead; otherwise he might have collected his first NBA triple-double. The Kings were a team-high +32 in Bjelica’s 32 minutes.
The most promising stat line going forward belonged to Jabari Parker, who hasn’t had much chance to make an impact on the Kings, but will likely return next season once he exercises his player option. Parker adds some athleticism in the frontcourt; even after his knee injuries, he still has some bounce around the rim that other Kings forwards lack. He made his first seven shots and tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
The trip to the bubble was not a success for Sacramento, but at least the Kings showed some fight in their final game. On to next season.