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Domantas Sabonis shines despite 128-110 loss to Denver

A battle of the big men was a thriller from Sactown.

Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings hosted the Denver Nuggets in their first contest following the All-Star break on Thursday night, falling 128-110 not lost on a stellar performance from Domas Sabonis - pouring in his 38th double-double of the season finishing with 33 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block and 1 steal.

Denver was easily able to garner a double-digit lead out of the gate, steered at the helm of reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon, Will Barton and their cast of role players who continue to make the best out of missing their second and third best men.

In the second quarter, the game belonged to Sabonis as he went for his career-high in a Kings’ uniform. The Ox quietly garnered 19 points and 8 rebounds in the first half of the contest, thriving in all categories. It was absolutely explosive to watch Sabonis’ acquired taste - always surveying the floor for a moment for make something happen.

Davion Mitchell returned to the line-up tonight, coming off the bench without a minutes restriction in the first quarter. Mitchell was previously side-lined with a hand contusion, but you wouldn’t know it in his tenacity - coming out of the gates active and picking up where he left off prior to injury.

Jokic has kept Denver’s head above water for the last few months, and it’s clear when he’s off the court that their talent stock drops immensely. But when he checks in, it’s a commanding presence. Sacramento fell down by as many as 10 points more than once in the contest, with the Joker widening the gap every time he had the leather in his hands.

The Kings still need to work on maintaining third quarters, coming out less lethargic and more emphatic with their second quarter momentum would have been key to an easy victory tonight. Instead, they erased the hard work that was built on in the second frame and were forced to claw back again. Once more, Sabonis led the charge on both ends of the court to keep the Kings within striking distance, trailing 92-87 heading into the final frame.

And although it was a valiant effort led by Mitchell and Sabonis in the final frame, it wasn’t enough to stave off the Nuggets’ firing offense.

A refreshing change - when the Kings go down in a contest there is no longer a feeling of utter dread despite the outcome. The channel isn’t changing, the discourse isn’t negative - there’s a notion and a hope that turning the ship around is a realistic ask. Bringing in high IQ, All-Star caliber talent has proven to be something the Kingdom can look forward to as basketball becomes fun to watch in Sacramento once more. Building off this small sample size, all signs point to this becoming a serious team as they continue to grow a rapport in the coming weeks.