The Sacramento Kings’ slide down the Western Conference standings continues.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 38 points and 18 rebounds while Khris Middleton had 32 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 128-115 win over the Kings.
Sacramento has lost seven games in a row and sits at 12-18 on the season. The Kings looked like a tired team throughout this one. They played their fifth game in seven nights and didn’t have the legs to keep pace with the Bucks.
Rookie Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 23 points. De’Aaron Fox looked fatigued after playing 40 minutes in the loss to the Chicago Bulls. The point guard went 5-of-17 from the field and finished with 13 points and 10 assists. Sacramento’s struggles with outside shooting continued against Milwaukee. The Kings shot 12-of-33 from beyond the arc and have the fifth-worst 3-point percentage in the NBA during their skid.
Head coach Luke Walton made a change to the starting lineup, going with DaQuan Jeffries in place of Cory Joseph, who started against the Chicago Bulls. Both teams struggled to get going offensively, with both Sacramento and Milwaukee connecting on just six of their first 16 shots. The Kings’ poor outside shooting continued over the opening 12 minutes, connecting on just 25 percent of their attempts, but they only trailed 28-25 after the first.
Marvin Bagley III had a strong start to the game with seven points and three rebounds in seven minutes. Richaun Holmes — who returned after missing the last three games with a knee injury — and Hassan Whiteside combined for 12 rebounds in the first quarter.
Unfortunately, Bagley picked up his third foul less than five minutes into the second quarter and sat out the rest of the half. With Bagley on the bench, the Bucks went on a 12-4 run to extend the lead to 17, and it looked like they would run away with it.
Milwaukee was up by 16 with less than three minutes left until the break, but Buddy Hield came alive to score eight consecutive points to cut the deficit to eight points. Any momentum Sacramento had was short-lived. The Bucks went on a 6-0 run to end the quarter and led by 14 at the half. Milwaukee was the more aggressive team during the first half, making more free throws than the Kings attempted.
Sacramento had no answer for Antetokounmpo during the opening two quarters. The reigning league MVP was dominant, going off for 21 points and 11 rebounds during the first half.
The Bucks kept the Kings at bay in the third, outscoring Sacramento 29-26 in the quarter and held a 17-point lead going into the fourth, when the Kings couldn’t get the deficit to single digits.
Getting Holmes back was a small consolation prize for Sacramento, who continues to miss veteran Harrison Barnes’s presence. The Kings need to get healthy and regroup in a hurry if they want to remain in contention for a postseason berth.
The Kings get a much-needed day off on Monday before continuing their road trip with a matchup against the streaking Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.