The Sacramento Kings (15-24) were defeated by the Charlotte Hornets (20-18) by the score of 122-116 on Monday night. Sacramento held the lead for the bulk of the game but lost to a late push led by the Hornets’ Rookie of the Year candidate LaMelo Ball and shooting guard Terry Rozier. Ball only scored eight points through three quarters, but exploded in the fourth. He finished with 16 points in an exciting fourth quarter in which Rozier sank the clutch game-closer.
An emphasis on ball movement and close-range shooting helped the Kings maintain a steady lead throughout the game. Center Richaun Holmes continues to ramp up his defensive play, finishing with 15 rebounds, four blocked shots, and two steals. Star point guard De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 29 points and eight assists. Buddy Hield had the only consistent stroke from beyond the arc, going 5-for-11 and finishing with 23 points. Kings forward Marvin Bagley III ran to a quick start, scoring 12 points in sixteen minutes before exiting with a hand injury at halftime.
STAR OF THE GAME
De’Aaron Fox’s impressive scoring continues to lead a potent offense. His eight assists spearheaded the team’s total of 28. The Kings are indeed focusing more on pace and ball movement. Fox remains willing to move inside and attack the basket, but he seems more careful about it lately. Once again, all five Kings starters ended the game in double-digit points. This kind of scoring breadth is a testament to Fox’s willingness to run the court unselfishly.
The surprise for the Kings isn’t any individual contribution (although Holmes’ fifteen rebounds are notable). No, the surprise is the complete change in shooting priority for the Kings. They played small-ball, emphasizing high-percentage shots and keeping the team FG% very high (55.8%). There were points in the game when this number was above 60%. They struggled to find their stroke from beyond the arc (29%), but seemed to recognize it and were mature enough to adapt.
The Kings, despite playing good ball for most of the game, just ran out of gas. They dominated possession and shooting percentage for the first 3.5 quarters. But then the Hornets sprinted past them at the end like they were standing still. This, of all the Kings’ recent losses, is the most heartbreaking. This game was well in hand, but they just didn’t win it.
The long eastern slog continues…
@ Washington Wizards, Wednesday, March 17th, 4:00 PM PT
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