The Sacramento Kings closed their home-stand in a loss on Sunday, falling to the Phoenix Suns 127-124. With oth teams missing their main point guard to hand injuries in Chris Paul and De’Aaron Fox, it was left to the cast of respective running mates to command the floor in this afternoon’s contest.
Despite the loss, this game was incredibly fun down the stretch, with an emphatic effort from Davion Mitchell who garnered a career high in points (28) and assists (9).
Coming off of a scoreless game on Friday night, Harrison Barnes opened the first frame with a quick five points, giving the Kings a fast pace of play to match Phoenix’s own feverish sprint. In the absence of Fox, Davion Mitchell started at the point guard alongside Barnes, where they were able to hit their stride offensively in the first frame, pulling ahead with a 26-22 lead.
Sacramento sustained their success in the first half through optimal shooting beyond the arc and a stellar defense. The team shot 47% from the field in the first two frames, and garnered a 59-49 lead over the reigning Western Conference champions.
Maintaining their first-half momentum, Sacramento opened the third frame with great strength on the offensive end of the court, getting to the charity stripe on three consecutive possessions. Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton both accumulated four fouls through two and a half quarters, which stifled Phoenix’s defensive abilities, giving the Kings an advantage when playing aggressive around the paint.
Foul count didn’t deter Booker from feeding on offense, however, pouring in 19 third-quarter points with an active outing after a quiet first half. A 12-1 Phoenix run cut directly into the sharp game Sacramento had played through three, and lost control of offense. An offensive foul against Donte DiVincenzo handed Booker his fifth foul with 1:32 to go in the third, forcing Booker to the bench after a scorching run. The Kings remained in the lead 87-83 before heading into the final frame.
Landry Shamet opened the fourth quarter for Phoenix with a four-point play, giving the Suns their first lead since the opening minutes of the match at 89-87. Their offensive swing left Sacramento with the tall task of rebuilding a lead, or maintaining a tie through the rest of the contest. Meanwhile, Mitchell was everywhere - locking in beyond the arc for a 3-pointer that lifted Sacramento back above Phoenix. It was back and forth throughout the frame, with a promised thriller to end their meeting.
Sabonis poured in 18 points and 11 rebounds, logging his 12th double-double in a Kings’ uniform before exiting the game on his own power with a knee injury. Golden 1 Center held its breath has the Ox knocked knees with Mikael Bridges, dropping him to the floor in visible pain only to take to the court one more time before heading back to the locker room.
Tied at 108-108 with 8.3 seconds to go, Booker nailed a long two-pointer, elevating Phoenix to 110-108 leaving the Kings with a final possession to come up clutch for a tie or win it at the buzzer. Mitchell drove straight to the cup, tying things 110-110 leaving the Suns to answer with 2.8 seconds remaining. Ball in hands in the final seconds of the match-up, Booker’s shot didn’t fall, and the game strolled into overtime.
The Booker-McGee pick and roll was detrimental to Sacramento at the end of regulation, feeding the big man gave Phoenix the lead while Mitchell single-handedly carried the offense. McGee fouled out with 2:32 remaining in OT, becoming the second Phoenix big man to accrue 6 fouls in the contest. Two minutes later, Book fouled out on swipe against Trey Lyles.
Sacramento had an opportunity to close this game out down the stretch over overtime, but couldn’t convert despite chances at the free-throw line. It was a battle through its entirety, and the Kings will see the No. 1 seed again in the fall.