For the third game in a row, the Sacramento Kings defeated their opponent and lit the beam. This time, victory came against the Chicago Bulls, whom they were able to defeat 110-101 in a very exciting matchup.
After a hot start from Zach LaVine — who scored seven of the Bull’s first 10 points and finished with 41 — gave Chicago the initial lead, Sacramento was able to kick things into gear and start playing their brand of basketball. They at one point held a lead of 18 points and went into halftime up big.
However, in typical Kings’ fashion, the Bulls were able to take advantage of the lackluster defense and get back into the game during the third quarter. The 15-point halftime lead was cut to four by the end of the third. However — as this team has done all year — the Kings got it together late and played some great basketball on both ends of the floor in order to hang on and win.
Here are a couple of things I’ll be taking away from this game.
The defense is improving
Yes, LaVine put on a clinic and the Kings were unable to hold the Bulls under 100 points, but the defense still looks noticeably better than it did just a couple weeks ago. The Bulls and their superstar DeMar DeRozan are known for their high-volume, efficient mid-range shooting and are one of the best teams in the league. The Kings held the Bulls to 6-23 from mid-range and DeRozan to just 4-13.
Great individual defense by De'Aaron Fox on DeMar DeRozan in isolation.— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) December 4, 2022
And then good luck catching Swipa on the other end. pic.twitter.com/sOVXfCRyle
In the fourth quarter specifically, the Kings put the clamps on the Bulls and held them to just 7-22 shooting from the field. But it’s not just forcing misses. When a team is as good in transition as the Kings are, the missed shots and turnovers their defense forces leads to a lot of good looks on the break. The best offense is a good defense. The Mike Brown effect is really beginning to take form.
Rook rejects DeRozan in transition and Mezie throws it down pic.twitter.com/XVigQbXoBL— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) December 5, 2022
Malik Monk for Sixth Man of the Year
Monk is without a doubt the new fan favorite for the Kings, and loves to pump up the crowd. Tonight he finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in just 24 minutes.
When the Bulls were in the midst of their comeback, Monk got on the court and said let me put a stop to this real quick. Along with a dunk that Scott Van Pelt will be talking about later tonight, Monk made some incredible shots to keep the Kings afloat and the energy going. Another performance to push my Sixth Man of the Year agenda.
Domantas Sabonis is still rolling
The last point I want to make is about is how Sabonis has been outstanding lately. It feels like ages ago that we were criticizing him for his poor early season performance, but those games are a thing of the past. He posted a triple-double tonight with 11 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. It was the first Kings’ triple-double in over four years.
He is also playing some better defense on the interior. By no means is he a rim protector or even the best defender on the team, but he has stepped it up lately. His verticality has been great and has been much more effective at contesting opponents. It’s safe to say I am very happy we traded for him.
The Kings will be going on a six-game road trip after tonight, starting with the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday. Games that like are most exciting to me because we get to see just how legit this team is. Getting to light the beam against a team like the Bucks will do wonders for the team’s confidence. Do you think they have a shot?