After six straight victories at home, the Sacramento Kings finally lost at the Golden 1 Center. Carried by an inspired performance from Devin Booker, the Phoenix Suns beat the Kings by a score of 122-117 for Sacramento’s third straight loss after an impressive 7-0 run in the beginning of November.
It was a very close and exciting contest all night. After going back and forth throughout the first half, the Kings held a 64-63 lead going into the break. However, the Kangz decided to make an appearance in the third quarter as they like to do. They went from a one-point lead at the half to finishing the third with a seven-point deficit. Not as bad as the Kangz made us accustomed to seeing last season, but not great.
But in the fourth quarter, the Kings returned fire and played very well on both sides of the ball. But there was only so much they could do to stop Booker, who led all scorers with 44 points and also gathered 6 steals in the Suns’ fifth straight victory.
Even though a loss is never good, there were two bright spots from the matchup with Phoenix.
The first was Malik Monk, who finished the night with a season high 30 points and 8 assists while shooting 12/17 off the bench. Monk has been very consistent lately and is beginning to solidify his role on the team as the spark plug. When the Kings need a highlight play to get the energy, more than likely Monk will be involved. Whether he’s throwing it down or setting someone else up for the slam. Without Monk, the Kings would not have been in this game at all.
Just enjoy this stretch from Malik Monk. All three of these plays were within a minute of each other. pic.twitter.com/UrYErvOE61— Matt George (@MattGeorgeSAC) November 29, 2022
The second bright spot was seeing some life in Keegan Murray on offense. He finished tonight with 11 points on 5/11 from the field while also making his sole three point attempt. These are not crazy numbers even by rookie standards, but it is definitely good to see Murray getting buckets again.
And now the bad.
The Kings are allergic to playing defense in the paint. They allowed 58 points in the paint tonight and allow the sixth most per game in the NBA. The majority of these came in the first half before some obvious adjustments and a stern talking to from Mike Brown, however they could have set themselves up for some success if the paint was defended all game. Sabonis, who finished with two blocks tonight, had flashes where his defensive looks solid. But as a whole, he is an offensive player.
With Tre Lyles out tonight with a non-covid illness, Chimezie Metu and KZ Okpala shared his minutes. Neither of the two made their presence felt in the defensive paint and were the only two players off the bench with a negative plus-minus for Sacramento tonight. It may be time for the Kings to seriously consider making a change to their big man rotation.
Sacramento’s next matchup will be the highly anticipated return of Tyrese Haliburton as the Kings take on the Indiana Pacers. Though it won’t be easy, this game will be a nice break from playing the three finals contenders they’ve faced up with in their last three games. It will be a must win both for morale and to avoid their second four game skid of this young season.