But despite the final score, this game was actually quite interesting.
It started off close with both teams battling and retaking the lead seemingly every other possession. But after a monster third quarter by the Kings that gave them a 20-point lead, things started to heat up.
Remember in Wednesday’s game when Rockets guard Garrison Matthews whacked Keegan Murray? Well, in the rematch he decided it was Malik Monk’s turn to get some smoke, throwing a cheap shoulder his way and as we all know, Monk is NOT afraid. This led to some words being exchanged and an almost altercation resulting in the ejection of not just Monk and Matthews, but Tari Eason (cleared the bench) and...Chimezie Metu??
A great way to start the fourth quarter of a blowout victory. A little emotion and a bit of chippiness always make the win more satisfying.
KINGS-ROCKETS GETTING CHIPPY— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 14, 2023
Four players were ejected including Malik Monk and Garrison Mathews after this scuffle. pic.twitter.com/OTY5tL2S3U
Let’s take a look at these six takeaways from the game.
Trey Lyles is looking to cement his role
At the start of the year, Lyles seemed to look like he was going to get the bulk of the backup center minutes. But that faded away after he missed some time with illness. Since then, the rotation has been a hodgepodge of guys looking to fit Mike Brown’s scheme.
But over the recent stretch of games, especially both against Houston, Lyles has looked hungry. He looks like he wants to be the permanent backup 5. Last night against the Rockets he left his mark all over the floor tallying 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 30 minutes. He played fast and aggressive, but also very smart and more aware on defense, earning him a +23 off the bench.
Trey Lyles said that Coach Brown previously called him out in front of the group to be better at defensive rebounding.— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) January 12, 2023
And Trey has clearly responded since then. pic.twitter.com/fXKD5iI0jW
What’s nice about Lyles is that he and Keegan Murray share a similar skillset. When Murray gets into foul trouble like he did it’s an easy plug-and-play. He also provides a nice spark off the bench and could honestly be considered the Monk equivalent of the frontcourt. He provides some solid life on offense the other bigs can’t. I would like to see more consistent Lyles minutes.
Malik throws it up, Lyles puts it down pic.twitter.com/1TJzHAR8S8— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 14, 2023
Mike Brown should be Coach of the Year
From his quick and frequent timeouts to re-align the game plan, to him literally going on the court mid-game to show a player how he wants things done. Name a coach doing more for his team this season and Mike Brown. In just half a season, it looks like he’s been coaching these guys for years the way they seem to know each other. Every time one of the Kings steps it up and has a great game, the first thing they say is Brown challenged them to step it up. AND IT WORKS EVERY TIME!
His in-game adjustments are also phenomenal. Last night Rockets star Jalen Green was torching the Kings and scored 25 points in the first half. He was almost the sole reason the game was so close at the break. He only scored two points in the entire second half...
The Kings have a problem of letting opposing stars have their way every game. Not that Green is a true star yet, but he has all the making of becoming one soon. Holding him to just two points in a half after such a hot start is hopefully a sign of things to come. Brown is changing things in Sacramento and it’s happening faster than anyone could have imagined.
Domantas Sabonis letting the league know
Sabonis is one of the league’s best bigs and it’s not even close. Last night he had 19 points, 15 rebounds, a career-high 16 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks, making him the third center in NBA history to put up a 15/15/15 game and the first King since Oscar Robertson to do so. Sabonis also broke the franchise record for consecutive double-doubles with 19, a category in which he also leads the league this season.
Big night from Domantas Sabonis in the Kings W.— NBA (@NBA) January 14, 2023
Oh, and that’s not it. If his current stats hold, Sabonis will become the fourth player in league history to average 15/12/6 on 50% shooting from the floor. He is having a historic season.
Yet somehow, he has still yet to crack just the top-10 in All-Star votes for the frontcourt. Sabonis is quietly having an All-NBA/MVP-caliber season, he just happens to play in Sacramento, so the fans don’t give him to get the recognition he deserves.
What will it take for everyone to put some respect on his name?
Sabonis tonight:— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 14, 2023
First player with that statline or better in a game since Larry Bird. pic.twitter.com/aUwy2fa2XU
Do I even need to say it at this point? The Kings allowed a very bad team to score 56 points in the paint. There were moments during the game where you could see some improvement, but along with Green’s high first-half output, this was why the game was close in the first half. No need to dive in more.
This issue needs to be fixed.
Harrison Barnes should not be traded
Harrison Barnes tonight:— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 14, 2023
Led the Kings in PTS and +/-. pic.twitter.com/xDVv5QEx9K
HB is still on a tear through the month of Jan. averaging 21.1 points, 4.1 points and 1.3 assists on 53.5% shooting from the field and going 50% from three. During Sacramento’s three-game win streak, he is shooting 63.9% from deep on 4.6 makes per game. Not only has he been providing a ton of vet leadership, but he has been efficient and reliable.
HB has been in trade talks for the last couple of years. However, I wouldn’t mind keeping him right now. The chemistry is good and the team is playing great. I do think they should try and make a big trade to put the talent over the top, but I no longer think the package should include HB unless the return is a no-brainer.
The three-ball continues to fall
The Davion strip leads to a HB 3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/UCouKe4YmZ— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 14, 2023
Like HB, the Kings are on fire in the month of January in terms of 3-point shooting. The team is averaging 41.1% from deep on almost 16 makes per game. Shooting and floor spacing were a top issue for the Kings in the offseason. Now, it’s a strength.
Last night against the Rockets, the team made 20 of their 40 attempts from deep led by HB (5-8) and Monk (4-5), the latter of whom would’ve scored more if he wasn’t wrongfully ejected. Since teams now have to scheme against the Kings’ ability to hit from deep, the lanes are wide open for De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis to work their magic. Once they start cooking inside, they kick it right back out. A vicious and unguardable cycle. As long as the Kings remain bad on defense, I am very glad to see that their already elite offense if somehow improving.