De’Aaron Fox continued his mastery of the New Orleans Pelicans. The rest of his team didn’t.
The New Orleans-born Fox dropped 43, raising his season average against the Pelicans to 41 points per game for the season, while adding six assists and earning 15 trips to the line. But he missed seven free throws and a few pull-up 3-pointers he’d rather have back down the stretch, and the Kings couldn’t complete their comeback, falling to New Orleans 117-110 and losing the season series in the process.
Swipa hit that button pic.twitter.com/5R6BA4yQLE— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) April 13, 2021
One would hope that the Kings would bring the effort from the get-go after losing six straight and facing another team in contention for the West play-in. And yet, the Kings completely no-showed the first half, letting the Pelicans get into the paint at will to the tune of 17-of-22 shooting at the rim.
On an ordinary night, Sacramento would be able to counter that with perimeter scoring, but in the absence of Buddy Hield, the Kings offense didn’t have any spacing. It was brutally clear how much Hield warps defenses by his ability to get a shot up with an inch of space. The court was so cramped that Richaun Holmes had zero points in the first half, and went scoreless for the first time 2018 since he had to leave at halftime with a hamstring strain.
The Kings as a whole made one 3-pointer in the first half without their sharpshooter and that came with 0.8 seconds left in the second quarter when the team was already down 26 points, the largest deficit of the game.
But things started to turn around in the second half. Sacramento forced 14 turnovers and held the Pelicans to only 30 shot attempts in the half. The problem, oddly enough against the 28th-best defense in the league, was that the Kings couldn’t score effectively. The team shot under under 30 percent on threes and under 60 percent on free throws, and the Kings were also outrebounded on the offensive glass.
Still, New Orleans managed to get within 12 by the end of the third and trimmed the deficit to five in the final minutes after getting Steven Adams out of the game with intentional fouling. A bonehead flagrant foul even gave the Kings the ball down four with 18.4 seconds left, but they couldn’t get any action going towards the basket and had to settle for another off balance three.
That’s seven losses in a row for Sacramento, and the prospect of the play-in feels increasingly unrealistic.