Kings takeaways: What we learned in Sacramento's 101-94 loss to Nuggets

Kings takeaways: What we learned in Sacramento's 101-94 loss to Nuggets


SACRAMENTO -- Better effort, same result.

The Sacramento Kings showed a lot of life Monday evening at Golden 1 Center. They fought back from multiple deficits and got to within two of the Denver Nuggets late in the fourth quarter. 

In the end, the Kings’ shots fell short and they dropped a close one by a final of 101-94.

Jamal Murray led the way for Denver with 18 points, including a big three with just over 30 seconds remaining to seal the win. Gary Harris added 17 to help the Nuggets improve to 3-0 on the season.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings come close, but fall to 0-4 to start the 2019-20 season.  

The Spark

Three minutes into the first quarter and you could hear a pin drop in Golden 1 Center. The energy from the crowd matched the Kings’ play on the court.

Starting center Dewayne Dedmon picked up his second foul in just under 180 seconds of action and went to the bench. His replacement, Richaun Holmes, brought the energy and a whole lot more.

Sacramento trailed 10-3 when Holmes entered the game. By the end of the first quarter, they were up 28-21 and Holmes already had 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting.

Holmes didn’t stop his dominating performance after the first 12 minutes of the game. The 26-year-old center finished the evening with 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Running with Fox

After three stinkers to start the season, the Kings looked more like the team that folks became accustomed to last season. They ran, the scored, they played energy. 

De’Aaron Fox was a huge reason for the change. 

The 21-year-old point guard flashed the speed that made him a candidate for the league’s Most Improved Player award last season. He even showed his ability to launch from the perimeter.

Fox finished the game with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting. He added nine assists and three rebounds, but it wasn’t quite enough to get the win.

The disappearance of Buddy Hield Part 2

Hield is struggling. For a second straight game, Sacramento’s starting shooting guard couldn’t buy a bucket. 

After scoring just three points on 1-of-7 shooting against the Jazz on Saturday, Hield missed his first eight shots and didn’t score a point until there was 7:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. 

With Marvin Bagley sidelined, Sacramento has to have production from every player on the floor, especially last season’s leading scorer. Scoring five points and turning the ball over five times in 33 minutes isn’t going to cut it.

Kings launch 'In this Together' campaign to support active community

Kings launch 'In this Together' campaign to support active community

With the NBA season on hiatus, the Sacramento Kings are shifting gears as a franchise. On Monday morning, they announced a new initiative aimed at helping the community that has supported them for the last 35 years.

According to the team’s official press release, the “In this Together” program is a “new effort to engage and connect through online activations, health awareness, physical and educational activities, business support and more.”

The program has a four-pronged approach, which aligns with what the NBA is doing as a whole. Those four initiatives are Know the Facts, Acts of Caring, Expand Your Community and NBA Together Live.

Through their social media platforms, the team hopes to educate and promote information from the California public health officials, the American Red Cross Gold Country and Sacramento County. 

The team has also posted videos from owner Vivek Ranadivé, as well as players like Marvin Bagley and Bogdan Bogdanovic on staying healthy and active while under directives from the state and local governments to remain in your home. 

Under the acts of caring banner, the Kings have donated nearly 5,000 pounds of perishable foods to the Sacramento Food Bank and the Sacramento County Office of Education. They are also working with team partners like Xfinity to provide free educational resources and First 5 California to create coloring sheets and downloadable activities through

The team plans to release at-home workout videos from Nike featuring Kings game night host Katerina Kountouris, as well as at-home basketball drills for kids featuring Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson and G League coach Ty Ellis. 

They are also going to launch a contest where fan-submitted videos will get Kings broadcaster Grant Napear’s famous “If you don’t like that, you don’t like Kings basketball!” call.

[RELATED: Sleep Train Arena could convert into COVID-19 hospital]

Partnered with NBC Sports Bay Area and California, the Kings will continue running classic games from the 2017-20 campaigns through April 15. The team is also encouraging fans to watch Pay It Forward LIVE, a digital concert series from Verizon that benefits small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The Kings plan on doing more in the community as their fans are isolated in their homes for the foreseeable future. You can find out more information by going to

Five moments to remember from Kings' buzzer-beating win over Rockets

Five moments to remember from Kings' buzzer-beating win over Rockets

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Kings’ victory over the Houston Rockets from Dec. 9, 2019 today at 3 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.

The NBA has closed its doors indefinitely, but we have been able to dig into the archives and come away with some of the best games from the last few seasons for your viewing pleasure.

In our sixth installment, we go back to earlier this season, when the Kings went toe-to-toe with the Houston Rockets and came away with a huge game-winner from Nemanja Bjelica.

While we know the final outcome of the game, sometimes the details become murky over time. Here are five things to watch from the Kings’ 119-118 buzzer-beating win over the Rockets at the Toyota Center.

“F--k it, we deserved this win.”

Bjelica usually is quiet and stays away from the media when he’s given the choice. After drilling a 32-footer as time expired to give his team a huge win, Bjelica stopped by to speak with the Kings’ broadcasting team of Grant Napear and Doug Christie and he let loose with an F-bomb that has since been made into t-shirts.

The veteran stretch four has been very good for the Kings since signing as a free agent in the summer of 2018. He has hit plenty of long range 3-pointers, but none was bigger than the dagger against Houston.

“Game over. Game over.”

Star point guard Russell Westbrook put up 34 points and eight assists against the Kings in this game, including nine of the Rockets' final 12 points in regulation. With one second remaining on the clock, he put in a layup to give the Rockets a 118-116 lead and wouldn’t stop talking.

Westbrook's shot was huge, but Bjelica outdid him with the buzzer-beater. Sometimes it’s best to wait until the clock strikes zero before proclaiming victory.

Buddy Buckets

Where would the Kings be without Buddy Hield and his ability to knockdown the triple?

While Bjelica gets the fanfare in this one, Hield’s 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining tied the game and gave the Kings a shot. 

Hield scored a team-high 26 points in this game, including 6-of-13 shooting from long range. In a hostile environment, he came up huge for Sacramento.

It’s raining 3s

Hield tied the game late with a 3-pointer and Bjelica hit the game-winner while wading in the Gulf of Mexico, but these shots were part of a larger trend in this game.

Sacramento went a stunning 20-for-45 from behind the arch, outscoring the high-powered Rockets 60-51 from deep. Only eight players stepped on the court for coach Luke Walton in this game and seven of them knocked down a 3-ball.


The Kings got off to a rough start to the 2019-20 season, dropping their first five games. They bounced back, but came into this stretch in dire need of some wins.

[RELATED: Sleep Train Arena could be converted into COVID-19 hospital]

They dropped the first two games of the road trip in Portland and San Antonio, and then had to finish the trip with a back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks and Rockets on Sunday and Monday.

Sacramento almost blew an eight-point lead in the final three minutes in Dallas, but held on for a 110-106 victory. With the win in Houston, the Kings returned home with a .500 trip and then beat the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center for their third win in four days against high-level teams.