Kings

Kings struggle in second half, embarrassed on the road by Brooklyn Nets

Kings struggle in second half, embarrassed on the road by Brooklyn Nets

Sluggish. Slow to react. Embarrassed.

Some losses you can’t explain. After a bumpy start, the Kings looked solid through the first half against the Brooklyn Nets. And then the wheels completely fell off the bus in a 123-95 loss.

“The second quarter, we were much better defensively,” coach Dave Joerger told reporters in Brooklyn. “We just didn’t come out with that same intensity in the second half.”

Sacramento was outscored 35-28 in the third quarter, and then they didn’t even show up in the fourth. The Kings only scored nine points in the fourth quarter, while the Nets added another 30. 

The final outcome was a completely forgettable shellacking.

This happens on occasion in the NBA. One team loses their energy, and the other goes for the jugular.

Brooklyn is a quality opponent. They play extremely hard for coach Kenny Atkinson, and they have no issues scoring at an extremely high clip.

After starting the season 8-18, the Nets are 17-5 and in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

Sacramento is in the midst of a long road trip. They were coming off of an extremely emotional win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. They looked both mentally and physically exhausted in the second half, and the Nets took advantage.

During the final 24 minutes, the Kings shot just 15-of-47 (31.9 percent) from the field and 2-of-8 (25 percent) from behind the 3-point line. After turning the ball over four times in the first half, Sacramento gave it away 10 times after the intermission.

Iman Shumpert shot 1-of-10 from the field overall. De'Aaron Fox finished 4-for-14 and Buddy Hield scored just 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Kings were a mess in the second half. They were outrebounded 26-18 after the break, and 56-37 overall. They allowed the Nets to shoot 61.9 percent in the final two quarters, including 8-for-17 from behind the arc.

D’Angelo Russell did plenty of damage, scoring 18 of his game-high 31 in the second half. But, it was a team effort for Brooklyn. 

The Kings don’t have long to think about the loss. Following the game, they hopped a plane for Toronto, where they’ll face a tough Raptors team Tuesday evening of the second night of a back-to-back.  

They’ll need a much better effort, of Toronto will hand them another lopsided loss.

'Basketball gods' give one back to Kings in dramatic win over Celtics

'Basketball gods' give one back to Kings in dramatic win over Celtics

SACRAMENTO -- Front rim, backboard, front rim, front rim, front rim ... out.

An entire arena filled with fans went silent for what seemed to be 10 seconds as Marcus Smart’s runner in the lane sat on the front rim. If it rolled in, the collective sigh from almost 17,000 fans would have been heard all the way to Boston.

But that’s not what happened.

“Please roll out, please roll out, please roll out,” Richaun Holmes said. “And it finally did. But it seemed like forever.”

The Sacramento Kings stunned the Celtics Sunday afternoon, snapping Boston's 10-game win streak with a 100-99 victory. The win moved the Kings within two games of .500 on the season, but it wasn’t without drama.

“Finally the basketball gods, they were on our side,” Nemanja Bjelica said. “We think we deserve that the way we are breaking out and how much time we spend together. Winning is fun.”

The victory was a big one for the Kings who were coming off a controversial two-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday evening. It took a team effort from the Kings to pick up their fifth victory of the season.

Buddy Hield was a flamethrower from the perimeter, finishing with a season-high 35 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and added 10 assists. Bjelica finished with a double-double and when the game was on the line, Holmes came up huge.

A reserve to begin the season, Holmes is settling into the starting line-up for head coach Luke Walton. He scored a modest nine points, but two of those came in the final moments of the game and gave the Kings the lead.

With under 15 seconds remaining and the Celtics up one, Smart grabbed a rebound in the key off of a Kemba Walker miss. Smart went back up with it, but Holmes swiped at the shot attempt and then came away with the miss.

In the ensuing chaos, Smart wrapped up the Kings’ center trying to get a jump ball call. After review, Smart was assessed a foul and the Celtics were already in the penalty.

“Marcus Smart came in and got a ridiculous offensive rebound - he came flying in,” Holmes said. “I just tried to find the ball and make a play on it. Luckily we were able to get the rebound, able to get the foul, able to knock down two free throws.”

Holmes, a career 70.7 percent shooter from the free-throw line, stepped to the stripe with 13.3 seconds remaining and hit the pair that gave the Kings the 100-99.

Holmes played a crucial role in the final play as well. With 13.3 seconds remaining and trailing by one, Walker brought the ball up. He tried to shake Cory Joseph, but the Kings’ starting point guard forced him to give the ball up to Smart.

Smart burst down the lane, but Holmes flew in trying to block his shot and made the play more difficult.

“That’s my job, to try to protect the rim as much as possible,” Holmes said. “That ball hung on the rim for I don’t know how long. Luckily it bounced out and we were able to get the win.”

It was a tremendous effort from the 26-year-old big. His numbers might not jump off the page, but in the final moments, he protected the rim twice, grabbed the deciding rebound and iced the freebies from the line.

[RELATED: Kings take leap of faith betting on young core]

This was the first time at the NBA level that Holmes has been credited with the game-winning points that put his team ahead. The last time he had experienced anything like it was during his last year at Bowling Green when he hit a game-winning lay-up against Detroit Mercy.

After a brutal 0-5 start to the season, the Kings are now 5-2 over their last seven games. They’ll face the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, who are a surprising 7-4 on the season. The Suns play the Celtics on Monday night before facing the Kings on the second night of a back-to-back.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 100-99 win vs. Celtics

Kings takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 100-99 win vs. Celtics

BOX SCORE

Every once in a while, the Sacramento Kings get a roll to go their way. That was the case Sunday as Marcus Smart’s buzzer-beating floater sat on the rim for an eternity, before falling out. 

Golden 1 Center went crazy as the Kings stunned the Boston Celtics by a final of 100-99.

Buddy Hield starred in the game, but it was a rebound and a pair of free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining from big man Richaun Holmes that set up the final dramatic play.

On the final possession for Boston, the Kings stopped Kemba Walker on a drive. He found Smart at the elbow and the Celtic’s guard made a break for the rim. In a rare moment of luck for the home team, the shot didn’t fall and the fans exploded with cheers. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings shocked the best team in the Eastern Conference to improve to 5-7 on the season.  

Buddy came to play

The Kings leading scorer didn’t disappoint during Sunday’s matinee. Needing a boost in a tough defensive matchup, Hield got hot from behind the arc to help keep his team in the game throughout the night.

Hield dropped in 16 points in the first half, backed that up with 11 in the third quarter to give him 27 heading into the fourth.

Boston made a concerted effort to limit him in the final frame, but Hield still finished with a game-high 35 points on 7-of-12 shooting from long range. He also grabbed six rebounds and picked up four steals in 38 minutes of action.

Set em’ up, knock em’ down

Bogdan Bogdanovic created for others early, matching his season-high of 10 assists. Once his teammates were properly fed, he went to work on his own game.

After scoring just two points through three quarters, Bogdanovic hit the Celtics for 10 in the deciding fourth quarter. 

Bogdanovic has a really good feel for the game. He seems to know what his team needs every game and then fills the void. 

You gotta Bjelica

Where would the Kings be without Nemanja Bjelica?

There were questions coming into the season whether Bjelica would be in the Kings’ rotation. 12 games into the season, he’s one of the team’s most valuable players.

[RELATED: NBA admits LeBron contact on decisive Lakers-Kings play]

Against Boston, Bjelica notched his second double-double of the season, finishing the night with 12 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and a block.

He’s not going to win any footraces and there are times when he struggles on the defensive end, but the 31-year-old sharpshooter continues to give Luke Walton’s club solid minutes.