Kings

Instant Replay: Harden, Rockets too much for Kings to handle

Instant Replay: Harden, Rockets too much for Kings to handle

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Houston Rockets walked into Golden 1 Center Sunday afternoon and put on a show. With very little to play for, the playoff bound Rockets played their starters deep into the game to come away with the 135-128 win over the Sacramento Kings. 

League MVP candidate James Harden put up big numbers again for the Rockets. The 27-year-old shooting guard dropped in 35 points, handed out 15 assists, grabbed 11 rebounds and turned the ball over 10 times as Houston moved to 54-26 on the season. 

Sacramento native Ryan Anderson burned his hometown team with 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting. The smooth shooting stretch four knocked down four triples in the first quarter, making himself at home at the Golden 1 Center.

Clint Capella ran the floor and finished in traffic to add 18 points and six rebounds. Lou Williams came off the bench to score 18 points and Bobby Brown hit 4-of-7 from long range to finish with 16.

Skal Labissiere learned a lesson early guarding Anderson. He rebounded in the second quarter, scoring 13 of his 25 points in a burst before the break. The rookie big added six rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes of action. 

Second-year big Willie Cauley-Stein continued his recent surge. The 7-foot center posted a big double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the loss. 

Veteran point guard Ty Lawson started in place of Darren Collison and had a big game against his former team. The speedy guard managed to score 20 points and 11 assists.

Ben McLemore shook off a rough start to score 18 points on 6-of-15 from the field. Buddy Hield struggled with his shot, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Garrett Temple scored 13 points and grabbed sive rebounds, while Langston Galloway chipped in 10 points off the Kings’ bench. 

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Anderson was a flame thrower from the outside, Capella never missed a shot and Harden threw up a triple-double. The Rockets are a contender come playoff time.

TURNING POINT

Sacramento cut the Rockets lead to six in the mid-third quarter, but Houston pushed the lead back to 18 heading into the fourth and never looked back.

INJURY UPDATE 

Veterans Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos, Darren Collison and Tyreke Evans sat as the Kings’ season winds down. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings play one more at Golden 1 Center Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns before finishing up the season Wednesday in LA versus the Clippers.

Kings learn another harsh lesson, blow massive lead in loss to Nets

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USATSI

Kings learn another harsh lesson, blow massive lead in loss to Nets

SACRAMENTO -- The hum of a stocked glass-door refrigerator in the corner was the only discernible noise in the Kings’ locker room Tuesday night. The weight of a monumental 123-121 loss to the Brooklyn Nets hung in the air, and no one was in a mood to speak to the media.

In a season of harsh lessons, blowing a 25-point fourth quarter lead and giving up the winning bucket with 0.8 seconds remaining may have been the straw that broke the Kings' backs.

“It’s just a bad loss,” a frustrated De’Aaron Fox said.

“We blew it. I hate losing, especially like that,” rookie Marvin Bagley said.

After destroying Brooklyn with a 20-0 run to begin the second half, the Kings looked unbeatable headed into the fourth quarter.

Bagley was having another breakout game. Fox looked finished for the evening when Joerger turned to Yogi Ferrell off the bench.

Sacramento led by 103-78 heading to the final frame. They were well on they’re way to their 35th victory, and a move back to .500.

Then, D’Angelo Russell caught fire.

The Kings have seen a player do something similar in the past. Golden State’s Klay Thompson hit the team for 37 points in a third quarter of a game back in Jan. 2015. But this was different.

This wasn’t a run to blow a team out. Russell’s 27-point outburst in the fourth came in a hostile environment, as every point cut into a big deficit. The All-Star guard finished the evening with 44 points out of necessity for his club, and the Kings had no answer.

“Well, that certainly can be a tough one to take, but it’s a good opportunity for our guys to learn and hopefully we’ll be in those opportunities again in the future where we have a lead and we don’t relax,” coach Dave Joerger said. “We relaxed and were very casual, didn’t run back on defense, turned the basketball over a ton and took a lot of jump shots because we thought it was going to be easy.”

The lead evaporated quickly. Sacramento started missing shots, and turning the ball over. Russell started pulling up for 3-pointers on the break, and hitting them.

A stunned Golden 1 Center crowd was silenced as the Nets hit the Kings with one blow after another.

“They made shots, we turned the ball over, they got it going and got hot and they finished the game better than we did,” Fox said.

When Russell missed a couple of shots, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson picked up the slack. When they needed a big 3-pointer, veteran Jared Dudley knocked it down.

Joerger tried different looks in the fourth, but nothing seemed to work. Sacramento shot just 22.7 percent in the final 12 minutes, and turned the ball over seven times. Only Buddy Hield hit more than one shot in the final 12 minutes, and even he went just 2-of-6 from the field, and missed all three of his 3-pointers.

“They wanted it more than us,” Hield said. “They out-toughed us. Outplayed us. They were the guys that were the most confidence. They were talking, having fun. They took the fun away from us in the fourth quarter.”

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In the end, the Nets hit big shots and the Kings came up short. The ball got sticky, the game slowed down and a team with a lot to play for handed Sacramento a devastating loss.

“We kind of relaxed in that moment and the basketball gods punished us. That’s how it goes,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said.

With the defeat, the Kings dropped to 34-36 on the season. Combined with a Los Angeles Clippers victory, Sacramento fell seven games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings with 12 games remaining.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 123-121 loss on Nets' unreal rally

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Kings takeaways: What we learned in 123-121 loss on Nets' unreal rally

SACRAMENTO -- Desperately needing a win over a tough Brooklyn Nets team, the Kings looked like world beaters in the third quarter.

Then it all fell apart Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center.

Riding an incredible performance by D’Angelo Russell, the Nets erased the Kings' 25-point third-quarter lead. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got a flip to fall with eight-tenths of a second remaining, and Buddy Hield’s desperation heave came up short as Brooklyn pulled out a shocking 123-121 win.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings dropped to 34-36 on the season, with their slim playoff hopes fading even more.

The good run

Sacramento held a 66-58 lead going to intermission, and then the third quarter happened. The Kings came out on fire, punishing the Nets with a 20-0 run to open the second half.

Brooklyn slowed woke up to score 20 points in the quarter, but the damage was done. Sacramento outscored the visitors 37-20 to take a 25-point lead into the fourth.

The Kings shot 69.6 percent in the quarter, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Harrison Barnes scored 12 of his 17 points in the quarter, and Fox added nine as the Kings hit the jets and blew the Nets off the court.

The not-so-good run

An NBA game doesn’t end after 36 minutes, and the Kings learned that the hard way.

Led by an incredible fourth-quarter outburst from Russell, Brooklyn (37-36) stormed back in the final 12 minutes and maintained its position as the Eastern Conference's No. 7 seed.

Russell torched the Kings for 27 of his game-high 44 in the final period, single-handedly bringing the Nets to victory. He didn’t hit the game-winner, but with all of the attention focused on him, the Nets found a way to put the ball in the basket.


Bagley puts on a show

The rookie is growing by leaps and bounds every time he steps on the court. After dropping in 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds against the Bulls on Sunday, he destroyed the Nets' front line on Tuesday.

Bagley shot a perfect 8 of 8 from the field in the first half for 17 points. He backed that up after the break, finishing with a team-high 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting to go with seven rebounds.

The 20-year-old is looking to finish the season strong. He’s posted back-to-back 20 point games despite playing on a minutes restriction.