The Sacramento Kings used a strong second half to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder for their sixth win in a row on Friday night. Sacramento edged out a young, talented OKC squad and was able to light the beam once again.
Here are three takeaways from Sacramento’s 118-113 victory:
Keegan Murray is unflappable
Murray was masterful on Friday, scoring a career-high 29 points and grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds. Without a question, it was the best game of his young career.
At one point in the third quarter, the rook made three consecutive three-pointers and helped ignite the Golden 1 Center crowd. When Murray’s shot is falling like that, every shot that leaves his hands looks like its going straight through the net.
Not only has Murray been the best rookie shooter in the NBA, but he’s also been one of the best overall shooters in the NBA. After Friday’s blistering shooting display, Murray is now at 41.5 percent from distance on the season.
Also, how about his improved rebounding? Ever since Mike Brown called him out in the post-game of the Kings’ last loss on Jan. 7 to the Lakers when he finished with zero rebounds, Murray has turned into an absolute rebounding machine.
Murray is playing winning basketball as a rookie, which is a rare feat.
Malik Monk is in a freezing-cold shooting slump
For the better part of a month, Monk just hasn’t been able to find any rhythm on offense.
In his last two games, Monk has combined to shoot 2 for 15 from the field and scored just 7 points. Monk is now shooting just 31.4 percent from three this season.
Monk is the type of player you hope will be able to shoot his way out of slumps, but to this point, he hasn’t been able to do so.
Just about everything else has been positive for Sacramento on offense recently, so if Monk can get back to his early season production, then this Kings offense becomes even more dynamic.
The Kings are finding defensive answers in the second half of games
Early in Friday’s game, it seemed like it would be another high-scoring game where the Kings needed to put up 130 to win the game. The Thunder made 12 three-pointers in the first half, some of which were defensive breakdowns and some of which were the Thunder hitting tough shots.
In the second half, though, Sacramento tightened the screws, only allowing Oklahoma City to score 47 points in the second.
This has become a bit of a positive trend for Sacramento recently. The Kings allowed 39 to the Lakers in the first quarter on Wednesday, only to allow just 72 points through the final three quarters.