SACRAMENTO -- The Kings opened their third game in four days against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night at Golden 1 Center in the same way that cost them in Saturday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Bad defense. No stops. Bucket after bucket from the Pelicans.
But the Kings regrouped, and without De’Aaron Fox, pulled out an impressive 123-108 win over the Pelicans.
Here are the takeaways from the Kings' 38th win of the season that pulls them with half a game of the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies.
Huerter is back
After finishing dead last in the NBA All-Star 3-point contest, Kevin Huerter blocked out the critics and kept his eye on the prize.
After shooting just 29.2 percent from 3-point range in February, Huerter now is 19 of 27 from behind the arc over the past four games, including 6 of 10 on Monday night, as he finished with a game-high 25 points while adding eight assists and five rebounds.
His first triple came 32 seconds into the game and set the tone early for Sacramento.
Huerter’s first four attempts from behind the arc were all good. Two in the second quarter came 35 seconds apart. He had the hot hand, and he knew it, too.
He showed off his versatility and even snuck in an explosive dunk in the third quarter that had G1C rocking.
Sixteen days after his poor showing in the 3-point contest, Huerter continues to prove why he was selected to participate in the event in the first place.
Welcome back, Red Velvet.
No De’Aaron? No problem
Without their All-Star point guard, Mike Brown told reporters before the game that it wasn’t going to take one person to fill the void, that it would have to be a collective effort from the team.
There’s no replacing Fox, but Davion Mitchell did his best impression while taking the starting spot role Monday.
Mitchell finished with 15 points and his confidence from the jump was that of a starter.
But as Brown foreshadowed, it took more than Mitchell to pull out the win. Queue in Trey Lyles and Chimezie Metu.
Lyles and Metu came off the bench in the first quarter with a much-needed energy shift for Sacramento. With the Kings struggling to get a stop on the defensive end, Brown called a timeout down by 32-25 with 1:27 left in the first quarter.
Immediately following the timeout, the final sequence of the quarter went as follows: Metu dunk, Lyles defensive rebound, Lyles layup, Metu defensive rebound. End of quarter.
That spark to end the quarter continued into the start of the second. As a result, the Kings went on a 12-0 run and that changed the game.
Lyles finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Metu added nine points, two rebounds and two assists.
Domas continues dominant season
Domantas Sabonis had, yes, another, impressive all-around performance on Monday.
The Kings center racked up his eighth triple-double of the season with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
He’s just one away from tying his single-season career high (2020-21). He is also tied for the eighth-most triple-doubles in a season in Kings franchise history with Maurice Stokes (1957-58) and Oscar Robertson (1967-68).
The big man even knocked down a three.
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Without his All-Star partner-in-crime, Sabonis’ playmaking abilities continued. As if Kings fans expected anything less.