If there was ever a match-up that had ‘end of the season’ vibrations through all four quarters, it was tonight’s April contest between the 12th seeded Sacramento Kings and 15th seeded Houston Rockets.
It didn’t take long for Houston to garner a 15-point lead in the first quarter, as the Kings couldn’t make a shot from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Garrison Matthews put on his best audition for the 2023 three-point contest for the Rockets. Harrison Barnes led the offense with 13 points in the first frame as the only player wearing purple and white to hit their scoring stride.
Defense was nowhere to be seen for Sacramento, allowing Houston to score 41 first-quarter points on an absolutely absent set on the other end. Their effort was completely lackluster, practically having the energy sucked out of them with every positive possession the young Rockets had.
The second frame flipped, as an 8-0 run led by Josh Jackson and Chimezie Metu allowed the Kings back into the stratosphere of competition. What was once a 19-point deficit at the end of one was erased heading into halftime, as the climb back was led by Davion Mitchell and Damian Jones’ defense.
Opening with their statement third quarter collapse, the Kings continued trending downward as the Rockets garnered their second separate double-digit deficit of the ball game. Still, the awkward pace of play from both teams kept Sacramento within striking distance down the stretch, Mitchell scoring his first field goal heading into the final frame.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Metu gave the Kings their first lead since the first sixty seconds of the game, and once again, the ball game was brand new. It was a teeter-totter of scoring and lead changes down the final stretch, and a final offensive push from Mitchell late in the ball game gave Sacramento the comfortable victory with a minute to spare.
Although this game was generally blasé, there were strong performances from the likes of Jones, Metu and DiVincenzo - who were integral pieces in this comeback. Jones logged a career-high 6 blocks, while DiVincenzo poured in a near triple-double with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals - and the dagger.