It’s amazing what a difference one player makes for the Sacramento Kings.
For two games, the Kings were listless. They were essentially non-competitive against Golden State. With Tyrese Haliburton back (and at home against the Chicago Bulls, to be fair), the Kings looked like an entirely different team in their 127-124 win over the Bulls.
Haliburton scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a dagger three to put Sacramento up six with under a minute to play. He also added seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals, including one steal that led to a breakaway dunk.
This is masterful from Tyrese Haliburton. First he helps on the cut, recovers on Temple, clean pick + dunk. You can't do it better than that. pic.twitter.com/ptwjw1QkNX— Tony Xypteras (@TonyXypteras) January 7, 2021
His return gave everyone a lift, especially the bigs due to their pick-and-roll chemistry. Marvin Bagley had one of his best stretches of the season in the first quarter, starting the game with nine points and seven rebounds, and perhaps most importantly, no turnovers. He even a hit a 3-pointer during the opening period. He finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Haliburton ➡️ Bagley pic.twitter.com/N7JtbkSTcc— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 7, 2021
The Kings got excellent play from the center spot throughout the game, as Richaun Holmes was productive on both ends of the floor. He hit all ten of his two-point attempts and added eight rebounds while leading the team in scoring with 24 points.
Unfortunately, the Kings lost De’Aaron Fox to a hamstring injury in the first quarter for the rest of the game, once again leaving Sacramento with one playmaker. However, Haliburton was up to the challenge, and the rest of the role players stepped up.
Harrison Barnes chipped in 20 points, Nemanja Bjelica added 12, and Buddy Hield scored 10, highlighted by a 3-pointer in the final minute. Luke Walton also made a nice adjustment of playing Bagley at the 5 and giving Hassan Whiteside’s minutes to Glenn Robinson III, allowing Bagley to play in his natural position and giving the Kings more athletes on the floor. Robinson responded with his Kings season-high of 14 points.
Hopefully, Fox recovers soon, but overall, this was a good win to get Sacramento back on track. It’s also another reel for the Haliburton Rookie of the Year campaign.