The Sacramento Kings, halfway into a six-game road trip, went into Washington and eked out a tight victory over the Wizards on Wednesday night, 121-119. Star point guard De’Aaron Fox hit the game-winner, a clutch, contested 2-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining.
Playing their first game since the indefinite loss of Marvin Bagley III, the Kings came out with a smaller lineup than usual. Rookie point guard Tyrese Haliburton was elevated to the starting roster and finished with 17 points and 4 assists. For the third game in a row, and fourth out of five, all of the Kings starters finished with double-digit points.
The Kings struggled shooting the ball early, ending the first quarter down 38-34 and only shooting 37%. They recovered to finish the game 44% from the field, but only 30% from three-point range. Free throws have been woeful for the Kings, but not Wednesday. As a team, the Kings shot 82.9% from the charity stripe against the Wizards.
The Wizards got solid scoring output from league leader Bradley Beal (32.3ppg), who finished with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Russell Westbrook continues to prove why he deserves respect as one of the league’s best all-around players with a stat line of 26/14/10. Center Alex Len added another 12 rebounds. In the end, the big-time production from the usual suspects just wasn’t enough to help the Wizards overcome the Kings’ offensive onslaught.
STAR OF THE GAME
De’Aaron Fox continues his hot streak for the Kings. Fox scored 28 points to bring his five-game average up to 30.2 ppg. His assist total remains high, as he finished with seven against the Wizards and has 8.4apg over the same span.
His shooting percentage left something to be desired (38.1%) and he only hit one of six from the three-point line. But Fox came out of the locker room at halftime with a ton of hustle, scoring the bulk of his points in the second half. To that, he added five steals, his highest total of the season.
I have to split this category between two players.
Cory Joseph has provided a solid defensive presence off the bench, adding three more steals to make ten over the last four games. Joseph also has been the most noteworthy scorer off the bench. He is averaging more than 10ppg over the last six games and adding 12 to the victory on Wednesday on 5-for-8 shooting.
Harrison Barnes may be the unsung hero of this game, though. He quietly slid into the vacancy at power forward and finished the game with 18pts, 8reb, 5ast, and one steal. He shot a respectable 50% from the field in his 36 minutes. Barnes has been one of the most consistently productive Kings this season. He is averaging 16.6pts, 6.2reb, and 3.5assists over his 36 games at small- and power forward.
The Kings still have trouble taking smart shots. Nemanja Bjelica was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, and 0-for-5 overall, raising the question: Who is allowing Bjelica to take these long shots?
It’s not just him, though. De’Aaron Fox put up a lot of jumpers that weren’t even close to the net. I’ll chalk it up to youthful inexperience. The Kings roster has an average age of 25.2 years, which is good for the seventh-youngest in the NBA. That makes it important to keep veterans like Harrison Barnes, whose 50% on Wednesday and career-high 49.4% for the season, on the roster as a stabilizing influence. If they want to keep winning, as a team they’re going to have to settle down and take better advantage of the shot clock.
We’re shipping up to…
@ Boston Celtics, Friday, March 19th, 4:30 PM PT
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Ryan Dawley is a jack-of-all-trades writer, producing work in the fields of journalism, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, technical writing, and academic writing. He has been a fan of the Sacramento Kings since they snuck into the first round of the 1999 playoffs, when they nearly defeated the defending Western Conference champion Utah Jazz. His work for the Peach Basket has been covering all things Kings since February 2021. When he’s not writing, Ryan is usually absorbing the ins and outs of drawing, photography, and design; or he may be found thumping his bass guitar in front of the television. He was born and resides in Reno, NV.