I’ve been a long-suffering Sacramento Kings fan, but something feels different this season. After winning six of their last eight games, including a three-game winning streak punctuated by a 122-115 victory over the defending champions, the Kings now find themselves in a play-in spot in the Western Conference with a 6-6 record.
That record also hides the fact that Sacramento have already been on the wrong end of two game-changing calls that the NBA’s L2M reports admitted were mistakes.
First, Tyler Herro travelled on a game-winning three-pointer for the Miami Heat.
Next, Klay Thompson clearly fouled Kevin Huerter on a game-tying three-point attempt in the previous game against the Warriors last week. Steph Curry was also said to have travelled in the L2M report for that game.
Sure, the Kings would have still needed to win overtime against the Heat, and then Huerter would have needed to make all three free throws (and he’s bricked a fair few this season), but they at least had a chance at potentially being 8-4 if calls went the right way in those two contests.
The common theme so far, though, has been a dogged defense and the ability to keep things close in tough games. The former is something that’s been missing for a long time, quite possibly as far back as when Ron Artest was still wearing the team’s colors. So far, they’ve only lost by double-digits once, a 125-110 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Everyone’s been pitching in, too, especially to help De’Aaron Fox, who is making a case as a potential All-Star this season.
Fox combined for 69 points with Domantas Sabonis and rookie Keegan Murray against the Warriors, but Murray’s recovery from his scoring slump wasn’t even as important as the hard defense that he played in the game. In one sequence, Murray stole the ball twice on back-to-back possessions, and got a score out of one of them.
Fox has also stepped his efforts on the less glamorous side of the floor, including coming out of nowhere to get a big block on Curry in the fourth quarter with the game hanging in the balance and the Warriors holding on to a 111-110 lead.
Mike Brown, who came in as head coach in the offseason, has instilled discipline and accountability to the entire squad. Communication and effort have been a mainstay in this team this season, and they’re still only starting to gel together since they brought in key role players like Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter for this campaign, too.
Kings fans have long wondered what could happen if Fox could be surrounded by shooters, and Huerter and Monk are showing their mettle this season. Sabonis’ ability to control the flow of the offense and get the ball to people in the right spots is paying off too.
There are still 70 games to go, but for a fanbase that’s suffered for a long time, every chance to light the victory beam at Golden One Center matters.
The rest of November is not going to be an easy one, as they’ll be playing:
- The Brooklyn Nets
- The San Antonio Spurs
- The Detroit Pistons
- The Memphis Grizzlies
- The Atlanta Hawks
- The Boston Celtics
- The Phoenix Suns
The only ‘easy’ game there is the Pistons, who are worst in the Eastern Conference. If the Kings can get a half-decent results from this stretch, then it might be a bit more realistic for fans to start believing more in at least making a play-in spot.
For now, I’ll take being able to watch competitive games on just about every night. I hope that keeps up.