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Sacramento’s fourth quarter rally falls short in 109-108 loss to Cleveland

An aggressive second half adjustment led the Kings to an exciting yet disappointing finish.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second and final meeting of the season in heartbreaking fashion. A potential Fox game-winner and a roaring comeback led this team to what was almost a victory, but good things down the stretch were seen on both ends of the floor.

Sacramento remained without the presence of their traditional five-spot with Richaun Holmes and Damian Jones who continue to remain in Health and Safety Protocols, while Tristan Thompson was a late scratch in tonight’s contest with a quad injury. With three seven-foot starters on Cleveland’s roster, it was the defensive assignment of Alex Len and Marvin Bagley to defend the bigs tonight.

The first frame opened in similar fashion to that of last night, falling behind quickly on offense as the sizably advantaged Cavaliers were able to find ease in the paint. Kings’ two-way rookie Neemias Queta received an early bid off the bench, entering midway through the first contributing what would be his first NBA bucket on his first offensive possession. The Kings were able to capitalize on three steals in the frame converting to four points, trailing 28-22 at the end of one quarter.

Kevin Love opened the second frame with two made shots from beyond the arc, pouring in 14 points early adding onto the Cav’s lead. The Kings gave a concerted effort to remain active on defense despite the growing deficit, and were led on the offensive end by an aggressive Hali, Bagley and Barnes. Queta contributed career-highs in both points (6) and rebounds (4) in the first half as the Kings went into the locker room 62-49.

Sacramento answered back with adjusted offense to open the second half, with the Fox-Hali tandem surging a comeback 69-63 midway through the frame. Haliburton continues to pour in a healthy offense while also orchestrating for the rest of his teammates - a development that in the last month has been one of the most refreshing pieces of this roster. Fox clearly looked banged up fighting a shoulder injury bleeding into tonight’s contest, but carved out 10 points before their fourth quarter run.

Momentum felt to be swinging the Kings’ way down just two points to open the fourth quarter. Hield was heating up from beyond the arc while Queta hung in with the Cav’s beefy big-spot through in the biggest minutes of his young career. Haliburton cruised into and and-1, giving Sacramento an 87-85 lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the first quarter.

A technical foul midway through the fourth swung the pendulum in Cleveland’s direction, allowing for a stop in play after Mezie was whistled a T for throwing the ball back to the referee in ‘disdain’. Following that biff, the Kings were down by as many as seven points with three minutes to close the contest.

The Kings surged on a 9-0 scoring run to claw their way back into this ball game down by 10 with 2.5 minutes to play. Fox was able to strip the Cav’s of their final offensive possession landing in the hands of Queta. With eleven seconds to end the game, a play was drawn for Fox who couldn’t seal the deal on a jumper.

There are no “morale victories” in Kings basketball, but this was the most high intensity, aggressive effort that we’ve seen from this team in a long, long time.