The Sacramento Kings (13-20) defeated the Detroit Pistons (9-24) 110-107 on Friday night, narrowly breaking their dreary nine-game losing streak. All five Kings starters posted double-digit points in a balanced scoring effort. Point guard De’Aaron Fox led the team with 27 and added six assists. Center Richaun Holmes was a big defensive presence, pulling down a season-high 17 rebounds and adding two blocked shots.
The Kings came out fast, taking an early lead and not giving it up for the whole first half. After leading by as much as seventeen points, the Kings went down by eight late in the third quarter. By that time, it was apparent they were slowing down and showing signs of fatigue from a crippling streak on the road. The Pistons, returning home after their own difficult road trip, nearly seized the advantage but couldn’t close out the win.
Detroit’s leading scorer this season, small forward Jerami Grant, ended with 30 points and seven rebounds. He struggled with the long ball, going 2-for-7 from beyond the arc. The Kings played aggressively, fouling Grant and sending him to the free-throw line fifteen times for the game. It is one of six games all season Grant has attempted double-digit foul shots, and the most in a single game.
STAR OF THE GAME
Richaun Holmes stepped up in a “big” way tonight, becoming the defensive-minded center he’s been hinting at all season. His seventeen rebounds were the tonic the Kings needed for their defensive woes. His effort seemed to energize the whole team.
Power forward Marvin Bagley III and small forward Harrison Barnes both reeled in eight rebounds each, and the team as a whole rebounded 49 balls. That’s the highest rebound total they’ve had since a February 7th road win against the Clippers.
The 107 points allowed by the Kings is their lowest total spanning thirteen games, since a 105-104 loss in Miami on January 30th. Whole teams are responsible for good defense, but if you want to give an award for spark, give it to Holmes. He got the wheels turning.
The Kings played potent, motivated basketball, but it was the minor mistakes that almost cost them.
There was the shot-clock violation on De’Aaron Fox in the third quarter. Of course, these kinds of things happen, but usually, a shot clock violation ends with an airball or at least one grazing fingertips when the buzzer sounds. In this case, Fox seemed to have no sense of urgency to make a shot. It was a youthful mistake, but one that betrays a lack of awareness from the one player on the court who is supposed to have the most of it.
There were also a few questionable passes that became turnovers. The most memorable was a no-look from Justin James to(ward) Harrison Barnes that went directly into the eager hands of a waiting Piston. It is these kinds of little mistakes that remind me how young this Kings team really is. They have some hard lessons yet to learn.
The third and final thing, still, is the overaggressiveness on offense. I will admit this was the best effort I’ve seen so far to slow the pace of the game down. The Kings were able to use the clock, spread the ball around, and make good choices. But I also think that there are a lot of avoidable shots being taken in traffic with ample time left to shoot. The Kings have to make a habit of slowing down.
Would it be too easy for me to say Richaun Holmes again here? I think he stepped up and met his potential, but what’s extraordinary was that he looked confident doing it and kept it up for 33 minutes on the floor. He hasn’t looked like that in any game I’ve seen so far–until tonight.
Harrison Barnes came up with 21 points and some real clutch shots down the stretch. It is in those moments when the game is within a few points in the waning minutes that it helps to have a guy who has won it all. Barnes brings (perhaps the only) veteran edge to this team of very green youngsters.
I would also give guard Buddy Hield an honorable mention for hauling himself in from the left edge of the court and getting what was almost an offensive rebound and tip-in for two points. That was a big play that was called back for a foul, but showed amazing hustle.
There’s no place like home…
Sacramento Kings vs. Charlotte Hornets, Sunday February 28th, 7:00pm PT.
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