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Best of 2021: A look back at Sacramento’s biggest moments

Counting down the most memorable moments of 2021.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League Championship Game - Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

As we head into the second half of the 2021-22 NBA season and say goodbye to another strange year, it’s easy to forget the good things that have come out of the Sacramento Kings’ basketball program in the last six months.

On Draft Day, morale seemed to be high around the Kingdom despite the opportunities to both shake up the roster and the coaching staff before the regular season de-railed. Despite the critical oversight by management, Kings fan will do what they have done for nearly two decades: find the diamonds amongst the rocks.

Here are some of the best moments from Sactown in 2021:

The #SummerKings

NBA: Summer League-Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Just days after drafting Davion Mitchell with the No. 9 overall pick, the Kings’ Summer League team traveled to Las Vegas for a five-game tournament led by first-time head coach Bobby Jackson.

The Kings were electric and fun as hell to watch during their undefeated run, defeating the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks before their championship matchup with the Boston Celtics.

The final game was a blowout, led by Louis King’s 21 points of 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, and Mitchell’s stellar clamps on sophomore Payton Pritchard, who was held to just 4 points. The Celtics, as a team, turned the ball over 28 times. King was named the game’s MVP while Mitchell won Co-MVP of the tourney at large.

The #SummerKings had great chemistry that rolled into training camp, where there was a palpable change in the air described by both players and personnel. Even now, the players who found success in Las Vegas with a Sacramento jersey continue to develop both in the G League and the association. Plus - the Kings became the only team in the league to win the Summer League tournament twice. That counts for something, right?

A Perfect Preseason

The Sacramento Kings couldn’t be better shining example of ‘it’s just preseason’. Despite the failure of that run to translate into real regular season success, those four games gave us insight into what potential this iteration of the Kings were capable of. Sacramento claimed wins overs the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers all in exciting fashion.

Analysis was over-zealous, as De’Aaron Fox claimed Davion Mitchell to be one of the league’s top five defenders only two games into the preseason, but as such a blaring issue to the Kings of old, finding a defensive identity was essential to their brand of basketball this season. When that is coming is yet to be seen.

Still, good moments were abundant in the preseason - with Mitchell’s sharpshooting night in Portland to the bench unit going off in a win over the Lakers, morale remained high heading into the regular season.

Our Best Victories

Sacramento fans were snapped back to reality in the regular season, as the firing of head coach Luke Walton brought mayhem to the locker room, Health and Safety Protocols ravaged the roster and haven’t been able to really find footing since. All of the good things we saw in the weeks leading up to the regular season were a mirage for the program Sacramento has fluffed and failed the last fifteen years.

Despite the rut Sactown just can’t seem to claw its way out of, the best wins have all come in exciting fashion. Here are my favorite victories Sacramento has had in the 2021-22 season thus far:

3. Buzzer Beater Barnes

Sacramento went down early in this contest to the reigning Western Conference champions. Steered back by Buddy Hield’s 7 3PM in the third quarter, the Kings were able to cut the double-digit deficit and stake their claim on this game. Harrison Barnes shot the game winning three, leaving the Kings with a perfect road record and one hell of a buzzer beater.

2. The Night They Shot the Lights Out

In Sacramento’s most convincing win of the season, the group broke a franchise record in 3-pointers made in a single quarter hosting the Charlotte Hornets on November 5 from Golden 1 Center. It was a 30-point victory led by Fox, Mitchell, Hield and Barnes who combined for 80 points all shooting lights out beyond the arc.

This game was electric, and arguably the last great victory Sacramento saw before the season de-railed. The win put Sacramento back above .500, and the team seemed to be firing on all cylinders despite the slow starts from both Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.

1. #BeatLA in Triple Overtime

The post-Thanksgiving contest that had every fan in the Kingdom on the edge of their seats for seven straight quarters as the Kings outlasted the Lakers 141-137 from Staples Center.

Sacramento were without Barnes and Holmes in this one, leaving room for Fox to explode for 34 points and a comeback that we had never seen before. It had all the makings of a typical Kings loss - down by double-digits in the third quarter, defensive woes and no spark to change the outcome. However, the Kings were able to capitalize on the Lakers’ turnovers and extend their 8-0 run into a tie game heading into the end of regulation.

The following three overtime quarters felt like Groundhog Day. Did anyone even want to win this game? Hield sealed the victory at the charity stripe, leaving yet another thrilling chapter in the Kingdom’s #BeatLA book.

Frankly, Sacramento’s season hasn’t lived up to the expectations. When things are good, they’re great and when things are bad, they’re horrendous. All eyes will be on GM Monte McNair in the New Year as the Kings look to make moves toward competitive, winning basketball.

What was your favorite Sactown victory in 2021?