The Sacramento Kings (22-32) lost their seventh in a row, 117-110 to the New Orleans Pelicans (25-29) on Monday night. Although the Kings closed the gap late in the game, the Pelicans had a big lead for much of it. The Kings, who missed their first 13 three-point attempts, ended the first half of the game down 68-45.
Fueling the Kings’ run in the second half was De’Aaron Fox, who scored 27 points in the third and fourth quarters. Fox finished with 43, one point short of the career-high 44 he set against the Warriors on March 25th. Buddy Hield missed the game with illness, so Tyrese Haliburton was elevated back into the starting lineup against the Pelicans. In 31 minutes Haliburton had 12 points and added six assists. Richaun Holmes spent much of the game on the bench, playing only sixteen minutes and going scoreless.
The Pelicans got impressive performances from their stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, who scored 30 and 34 points respectively. Ingram recently missed a week of games in which the Pelicans won 1 and lost four, but since his return, they have won three in a row. One of those wins came against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers. Since leaving the Lakers (aka The place where rookies go to die), Ingram has been a breakout star for the Pels, averaging 24 points along with 5 rebounds and 4.8 assists, up from 18/3/5 least season with L.A.
STAR OF THE GAME
No one for the Kings deserves a star for their performance. The first half was so pathetic that the second half was simply about making up ground.
DE’AARON FOX is responsible for the bulk of their near-comeback, with most of his production coming in the second half. But, good teams win by playing close, inspired games from 48:00 to 0:00.
See above for the Kings’ fortunes here.
HARRISON BARNES deserves an honorable mention, though. It’s hard to single out all the shots he missed because, well, everyone was missing shots (except Richaun Holmes, who wasn’t on the floor enough to take any…more on that later). But in the absence of their one true big-man for most of the game, Barnes stepped up and added impressive defense.
Barnes finished with 11 rebounds, three steals, and a blocked shot. Additionally, he was the only good shooter from beyond the arc, going 3-for-6. He finished with a pretty average (for him) 16 points, but points are not the reason we keep him around. He silently, almost every game, makes up a very comfortable defensive stat line—and in the absence of Holmes, he stepped up. I would never ask for more than that. He’s the most stable player on the roster right now.
Where was Richaun Holmes for most of the game? He played sixteen minutes, during which time he took two shots, scored 0 points, and collected four rebounds.
In a game when the Pels had a size advantage, why do you park your primary big on the bench for ⅔ of the game? It’s baffling to me.
Buddy Hield was out of the game due to illness, so we finally got to see the Kings stop taking dumb three-point shots, right?
Nope. They put up 13 of them and fell behind by 23 points at the half. Of course, then they settled down and starting playing basketball a little more old-school, down-and-dirty, scrapping for steals and high-percentage shots. What happened then? Oh, they caught up. Imagine that.
THE BIG PICTURE
For real, though: The Kings have a laundry list of problems, and Luke Walton keeps throwing lineup changes in the mix to see if it will help. It hasn’t, and it probably won’t. What the Kings need is PRACTICE. This is a team severely deficient in the fundamentals of the game:
- Protecting the ball
- Shooting free-throws
- Playing the Half-Court game & being okay with scoring in the paint
Yes, of course, they need to hit shots, but to do that they need to settle down and play smarter ball. When all those things above are solved, the points they do score (currently 114.2ppg) will be more than enough.
vs Washington Wizards, Wednesday, April 14th, 7:00 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.