The Sacramento Kings fell to the Atlanta Hawks on their second night of a back to back in heartbreaking fashion, 108-102. Trae Young did not play in tonight’s contest, leaving the Kings with an opportunity to — yet again — capitalize on the absence of a team missing its star.
This contest was a slugfest from midway through the first frame, after Atlanta came out of the gates on a hot scoring spree. Both teams traded clunkers, turnovers and poor defense in the first two halves, but no momentum was ever gathered by either ball club as things were tied up nearing the second quarter.
A 14-4 running to close out the first half left Sacramento trailing by nine heading into the locker room led by Buddy Hield’s 11 points and 4 rebounds as well as De’Aaron Fox’s 10 points and 3 assists.
The second half opened with a bang, Tyrese Haliburton led the Kings back from their nine-point deficit with two consecutive 3-pointers. Pace was on the incline for Sacramento despite their slow start, and were finally able to win a third quarter - outscoring Atlanta 30-24. Haliburton had nine of his points in the period, alongside Fox’s eight.
Three quick turnovers to start the fourth frame put Sacramento down eight, as they were unable to string together consecutive stops or offensive possessions. A late surge from Fox and Hali brought signs of life back to the team, trailing by only three points with three minutes remaining in the contest.
Haliburton and Cam Reddish traded three-pointers, leaving things knotted with a minute to play. Fox responded with a fantastic and-one, followed by a missed call that led Sacramento to trail two possessions with 21 seconds remaining. A play drawn up for Hield didn’t draw iron, and the ball game was decided in a Kings’ loss.
With a short-handed Hawks team, the Kings had every opportunity to win this game. On the second night of a back-to-back that was an hour flight each way, the fresh legs of a young team should have no issue beating an extremely malnourished roster missing its star.
Despite the disappointment, the second half performance from the Fox-Hali backcourt was a bright spot, the tandem combining for 54 points on the night.