It feels like the 7-1 stretch happened months ago.
The Sacramento dropped their fifth straight game, losing 118-110 to the Miami Heat and falling to 12-16 on the season.
Marvin Bagley III had a good outing, finishing the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Heat used a balanced attack with six players scoring in double figures, led by Tyler Herro, who finished with 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting. All-Star big man Bam Adebayo had a triple-double with 16 points, 12 boards and 10 assists.
It wasn’t going to be easy for the shorthanded Kings, who were missing two starters against the defending Eastern Conference champions. Center Richaun Holmes missed his second game in a row as he deals with some soreness in his knee.
Veteran Harrison Barnes’ consecutive games streak was snapped at 176. He suffered a left foot strain and missed a game for the first time during his tenure with Sacramento. Head coach Luke Walton started Nemanja Bjelica and Glenn Robinson III in their place.
It was evident from the start how much the Kings were missing Barnes and Holmes. The duo combines to score 28.6 points per game, and Sacramento’s offense struggled without the pair.
The Kings couldn’t take advantage of a Miami team that was playing the second half of a back-to-back. The Heat held Sacramento to just 35 percent shooting and forced six turnovers to take a 31-21 lead after one. Bam Adebayo’s bucket 4:33 into the second quarter extended Miami’s lead to 15, but the Kings did a good job of clawing back.
Buddy Hield made a 3-pointer with 3:38 left to cut the deficit to six points, and it looked like Sacramento would make a game of it. Unfortunately, the Heat finished the half on a 13-5 run to take a 57-43 lead at the break. The nine first half turnovers didn’t help the Kings.
Miami came out hot to start third and went on a 17-8 run to go up by 23. But give credit to Sacramento for not folding. Bagley and reserve DaQuan Jeffries combined to score 21 of the Kings’ next 29 points to cut the deficit to 89-79 after three.
It seemed like anytime Sacramento was on the verge of getting back into it, Herro or Olynyk would get a bucket to stymie the run. The Heat kept the pressure on throughout the fourth and never allowed the Kings to get within single digits until the game’s final minute.
Sacramento’s defense had a tough time dealing with Miami’s size and depth. The Heat got several open looks off cuts to the basket and scored 70 points in the paint.
There were a couple of bright spots in the defeat. Jeffries is looked more and more comfortable after missing the first 24 games of the season with an ankle injury. The 23-year-old connected on all six of his field-goal attempts, including five 3-pointers, and scored 17 points.
Bjelica — who has been an afterthought for much of the season — played with confidence as well. He finished with a season-high 25 points and will give Walton something to think about when it comes to his frontcourt rotations.
The Kings have dealt with some tough injury luck over the past two weeks, losing Barnes, Holmes and De’Aaron Fox at various points. They need to get back to full health if they want to keep pace in the Western Conference standings.
It won’t get any easier for Sacramento. The team heads out on a critical five-game road trip that begins Saturday in Chicago.