The Sacramento Kings defense shines as they recorded their second win in less than a week against the Denver Nuggets. A big fourth-quarter surge and All-NBA type play from De’Aaron Fox greatly aided in the Kings 125-115 victory against the 2019-20 NBA western conference finalist Nuggets. This win brings the Kings record to 3-1 on the season, as they hit the road to face the Houston Rockets on Thursday 12/31.
Fourth Quarter Run Key to Victory
Denver’s Jamal Murray was out of the lineup due to an elbow injury. Sacramento got out of the gates HOT. The Kings racked up 74 first-half points. Sacramento held a 12 point lead at halftime, 74-62. Marvin Bagley III made a statement in the first half, scoring 18 points and showing increased confidence at all three levels – from behind the three-point line to rockin’ the rim.
A slow 3rd quarter saw the Kings lead diminish. After a few unlucky rim-outs, the Nuggets surged and the Kings went cold. Sacramento only scored 22 points in the 3rd period, compared to 38 points by the Nuggets. Would this be another Kings post-halftime meltdown that was all too familiar during the 2019-20 season?
Fourth Quarter Kings Resurgence
The fourth quarter was some of the BEST Sacramento Kings basketball I have watched since…. 2003? The Kings showed that they wanted to win this game, and they had the confidence they knew they could do it.
Sacramento went on a 19-3 run during the mid to late fourth quarter. This was some magnificent basketball to watch.
The Kings have depth, paired with growing ‘superstars’. As players continue to carve out their specific roles within the team, the Kings will become more and more successful. This was a team win by the Kings. When one squad wasn’t able to get it done, the coaching staff made a change and the ‘next man up’ mentality took over.
De’Aaron Fox led his Kings team in more ways than one. Fox scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half. He also chipped a team-high 9 assists. Fox shot the ball well – going 8-15 from the field, 2-4 from deep, and 6-7 from the free-throw line.
ESPN Game Stats
Kings Young Core Best Game Yet
The Sacramento Kings ‘young core’ of De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, Buddy Hield, and Tyrese Haliburton might have had their best game together. Yes, this is only four games into being crowned with the title of ‘young core’, but things are looking royally promising so far.
Tyrese Haliburton continues to impress just ONE WEEK into his new job. The Kings rookie had arguably his best game in the Kings 125-115 win against the Nuggets on Wednesday. In 25 minutes Haliburton racked up 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists. He shot 5-7 FG and 3-4 3pt FG. One of those was a silky smooth 29-foot swish late in the 4th quarter. I wonder what the decibel meter would have read in Golden1 Center if the fans were packing the pavilion?
Each game, the Kings coaching staff has given the rookie Haliburton added responsibility and TRUST. Against the Nuggets, Haliburton often acted as the main ball handler when Fox was taking a rest. Haliburton has made the most of his opportunities, playing well alongside Fox, and running the team well when Sactown’s floor general Fox is taking a breather.
Haliburton has shown poise, flair, and high IQ. Teammates of Haliburton have benefited greatly from his passing ability. The Kings rookie has shown his flair for dishing the rock. He has consistently shown off feeding nutritious no-look dimes to set up scoring opportunities for hungry teammates. These are not ‘unnecessary’ no-look passes, these are passes that have put the Kings players in good scoring opportunities.
Haliburton also shows no fear, LOOKING to take the big shot when his team needs it. Late in the game versus the Nuggets, Haliburton stepped up and hit a deep three-point shot from multiple paces behind the top of the arc. That was heavily aided by magnificent ball movement.
Haliburton also puts effort and pride into the defensive end. When Haliburton is in the game, the Kings defense shines. Kings fans also notice the deflections, hustle plays on defense, and that love for the game you can see every time the guy touches the floor.
Yes, the rookie made some ‘rookie’ mistakes, those are the learning moments that will help him grow.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Tyrese Haliburton for NBA Rookie of the Year! #reseROY
Kings Defense Shines
The Kings defense really helped the Kings to a win, especially late in the game.
The stat that really stuck out to me was the turnover category.
Sacramento caused Denver to commit 20 turnovers, while only committing 11 themselves. The Kings were active and engaged on the defensive end while being orchestrated by defensive mastermind assistant coach Rex Kalamian. The Kings defense shines when they play as a team. It will be fun to watch as this team evolves and grows defensively.
Other Notable Stats
Harrison Barnes quietly had a career-high in assists, with 8. That went well with his 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3-6 shooting from behind the arc.
Sacramento shot well from behind the arc – going 16-33 for 48.5%.
Sacramento dished out 33 assists on the evening. One storyline of the night was unselfish play. The ball was moving well on offense and it led to Kings scoring opportunities all night long.
Bagley III is Fine
In just 23 minutes Bagley III scored 18 points on 6-12 shooting. Bagley III went 2-4 from behind the arc. His shot looked smooth, confident while remaining ‘in-system’ with the Kings offensive scheme.
Marvin Bagley III had a great first half and played a crucial role in the Kings victory. Though in the third quarter, his squad was not getting it done. Simply put, the Kings coaching staff made a change in the fourth quarter and it worked.
Some fans were curious as to why Bagley sat in the fourth quarter so much. Was he hurt, did the coaching staff lose all faith in him? No, in the final quarter the group of Kings on the floor was playing at such a high level there was no need to make a change. Bagley III did his work in the first half and played a HUGE role in the Kings victory over the Nuggets. Let’s spin this positively – Bagley III was not needed in the fourth quarter to beat the Nuggets.
From Coach Walton’s post-game press conference –
“Marvin was huge in the first-half,” Walton said after the game. “That group in the third–it wasn’t (Marvin) individually, it was the group–wasn’t getting it done…I had originally planned on going back to Marvin, but the group out there was playing at a high level.”KHTK 1140 AM
Upcoming Kings Games
Thursday 12/31 – @ Houston Rockets
Saturday 1/2/21 – @Houston Rockets
– Tom Witt
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