Throughout the season, the Kings are never better than when Richaun Holmes is on the court (almost net neutral), and never worse than when he’s off of it. And it was Holmes who carried Sacramento to its second straight win on the road, as the Kings won over the Celtics, 107-96. This is the team’s first win in Boston since 2007.
Holmes was everywhere for the Kings, dominating as a scorer in the paint, protecting the basket on the other end, and even banking in a three with the shot clock expiring in the fourth to keep Sacramento head for good. Holmes finished the game with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks, and set a career high with free throw makes (9) and attempts (11).
The Kings didn’t lead wire to wire, but they came close. They were able to score at will against the Celtics with their new starting lineup, carving up the Boston defense in the paint and then benefiting from Buddy Hield’s 3-point shooting.
Holmes led both teams with 13 first-half points, as he made 4-of-5 field goals and all five of his free throws. He used his power and some nifty moves in the paint, including his up and under, to get past the Celtics. Harrison Barnes was similarly effective at the basket and was the game’s leading rebounder with seven in the first half.
The second unit, now including Justin James as the wing off the bench, kept the momentum going and built the lead all the way up to 15 in the second quarter with a James dunk on a fast break.
The most impressive part of the first half was Sacramento’s defense. They held the Celtics to 37.5 shooting from the field, including only five 3-point makes. Even with a relatively small set of starters, the Kings perimeter players held up when switched onto Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Sacramento also outshot Boston 10-4 at the foul line.
Then, a familiar foe came for the Kings, and it looked like the third quarter might prove to be their undoing for the team with the second-worst net rating coming out of halftime. The Celtics wiped away a 13-point lead, tying the game with under two to play in the period.
But that third proved to be a blip for Sacramento, as the Kings once again proved their crunch-time prowess in the fourth. They limited the Celtics to 15 points in the final period on 6-of-21 shooting while De’Aaron Fox alone had 10 points. Boston held the lead at 91-90, but Fox hit a jumper right afterwards, Holmes hit a three on the ensuing possession, and the defense carried the Kings home.
What a sequence for the Kings!— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) March 20, 2021
• Richaun Holmes gets beat off the dribble on the Tatum crossover
• Fox's timely rotation forces Tatum to decelerate, which gives Holmes enough time to recover
• Awesome rejection without fouling
• Buddy Hield in transition, pulling up for 3 pic.twitter.com/yKGK8BCkrA
Four Kings scored in double figures and eight were positive in plus-minus. Much of the trade speculation heading into the deadline has involved Sacramento and Boston, but it was hard to watch this game and think of the Kings as sellers and the Celtics as buyers. Still, someone will come calling for Holmes, Barnes, and the others. They just keep increasing their value the more Sacramento wins.