At this point, the Sacramento Kings offense is undeniable. They are the league’s top-scoring team with 120.3 points per game and have a free-flowing offense that opens things up for anyone in their rotation to put up a big night.
That was on full display against the Memphis Grizzlies this time around.
After blowing a 21-point lead against the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers, the Kings responded with a record-tying performance from the three-point line to blow out a Grizzlies team that was missing Ja Morant and Steven Adams.
Things started off hot in the first quarter, where the Kings started the game by going 10 of 10 from the three-point line before finishing the quarter at an 12 of 13 clip. That performance made them only the fourth team in NBA history to score 12 threes in a quarter, tying a record shared by the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks.
That first quarter was a beauty for Kings fans. Harrison Barnes made his first five triples before missing, while rookie Keegan Murray hit all three of his attempts. Malik Monk, Trey Lyles and Davion Mitchell also contributed one each during the run. The Kings went 22-40 from deep for the game, and were one-shy of tying their franchise record for threes made in a game, which they also set this season.
That’s not to say that the Kings didn’t face adversity, though. While they’re more than capable of defending well in spurts, the Kings allowed the Grizzlies to get back in the game with 25 turnovers, which Memphis converted into 23 points. They were also soundly outscored in the paint again 56-44, and this was by a Grizzlies squad that didn’t have their biggest player in Adams. It was clear that the Grizzlies missed the Kiwi big man, though, as they were outrebounded 53-31 in Sacramento.
However, the Kings responded in a big way after the Grizzlies clawed their way back into a 73-71 lead with 8:47 left in the third quarter. From then on out, it was all Sacramento as they closed out the game with a 62-27 run that ended in a 133-100 victory, using defense during that stretch to pull away.
Lyles was the catalyst behind that defensive performance. He not only led the team with 24 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks, he also shot 6 of 8 from three. Murray narrowly missed out on a double-double with 20 points and nine rebounds while Barnes also chipped in 20 points. Monk, who has struggled recently, also almost had a triple-double with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
De’Aaron Fox didn’t need to come up with any heroics against the Grizzlies but still had an effective 17 points, five rebounds and 10 assists, though he did cough up the ball six times. Domantas Sabonis, who is making a case for one of the All-NBA teams this year, had another triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists with eight turnovers.
There’s still plenty of room for improvement, as this is a squad that is not battle-tested in the postseason, but at least they’re finally giving their fans something to cheer for. They’ve got one more home game coming up against the Toronto Raptors before going on a seven-game road trip, and then face a crucial back to back set against the Dallas Mavericks when they get home. The Kings have an 11-9 road record at the moment, which is best in the Western Conference, so that road trip will be crucial.
We’re still a long way from the playoffs, but the Kings are continuing to build momentum. There is real belief now from the fanbase that they will finally break their 17-year playoff drought, and may not even need the play-in tournament to do so.