SACRAMENTO -- It’s better to be lucky than good. Or maybe not. The Sacramento Kings walked all over the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half Saturday evening at Golden 1 Center, but the types of shots they were getting proved to be unsustainable.
When they started missing those same looks in the second half, the game completely spun out of control.
“In the second half we struggled,” coach Dave Joerger said during post game. “Sometimes I think it’s maybe the fallacy of the made shot. Shots are falling for you. You can be doing a lot of things wrong and you can compensate and overcome that.”
Sacramento shot a scorching 58.5 percent in the first half, including 7-of-10 shooting from behind the arc. Despite allowing the Clippers to shoot 51.2 percent on the other end, they still managed a 61-47 lead going to the intermission.
“We honestly didn’t play that great, we made shots in the first half,” Garrett Temple said following the game. “We honestly should have been up 20 point, 22 points in the first half.”
The Kings came out strong in the third, scoring the first four points of the quarter to take an 18-point lead, but then the game switched.
With the Clippers tightening their defense, the same shots stopped falling for Sacramento and the result was a stunning 17-0 run by the visiting team. After hitting 1-of-14 3-point attempts in the first half, Los Angeles knocked down 6-of-8 from behind the arc in the third quarter to track down the Kings and eventually pass them.
“You know they’re going to put their hands on you in the second half and they’re going to come out and and be a little bit more physical,” Joerger said. “They came out and made shots, made plays and got loose balls.”
[INSTANT ANALYSIS: Kings rally late to tie it, but Clippers win in final seconds]
Veteran guard Lou Williams rattled off three straight long bombs in the span of 63 seconds to cut the Kings lead from 18 to nine. His fourth triple of the quarter came minutes later as he tied the game at 67-67.
“They made the shots they were missing in first half, they made them in the third,” Temple said.
Los Angeles used a 29-10 third quarter to take a 76-71 lead into the fourth. They pushed the lead as high as 10 in the quarter, but Buddy Hield almost single-handedly kept Sacramento in the game.
The second-year guard dropped in 16 of his team-high 27 in the quarter, including four 3-point makes in the final five minutes of the game.
“It was a good game, we stuck in there, we fought through, but we just need to do a better job of keeping leads and not letting teams get back,” Hield said. “This is the NBA. Teams go on runs. Stuff happens. Everything’s not perfect how you want it to go. You’ve just got to learn from this experience.”
Riding the hot shooting of Hield, the Kings managed to tie the game with 15.6 seconds remaining. But Blake Griffin’s 10-foot fadeaway over Willie Cauley-Stein gave LA the lead with 3.2 seconds remaining.
Joerger ran a play out of a timeout for Hield, trying to give the 23-year-old a shot to be the hero. Hield couldn’t get around the Clippers defenders and his shot didn’t even draw glass.
“Maybe I’ve got to do a crossover, stepback - something to get the shot off,” Hield said. “But I’ll learn.”
With the loss, Sacramento dropped to 4-5 on their home floor and 5-14 overall. They continue to show signs of development, but learning to win is a tough step for a young and inexperienced basketball team.