Kings takeaways: What we learned in thrilling 100-97 OT win vs Nuggets

Kings takeaways: What we learned in thrilling 100-97 OT win vs Nuggets

The Sacramento Kings battled the Denver Nuggets all the way down to the wire Saturday afternoon at Golden 1 Center, but they spent most of the fourth quarter waiting for the big shot to fall.

After a miserable shooting performance through most of the afternoon, Buddy Hield finally got a 3-pointer to drop just inside of two minutes to make it a game. He hit another triple to draw the Kings within two with 50 seconds remaining and then tied the game with a move to the hoop with 22.9 on the clock.

Richaun Holmes swatted away Jamal Murray’s jumper as time expired, sending the game into overtime. 

In the five minute overtime session, the Kings got out to a quick lead. Needing a hoop late, Harrison Barnes bullied his way to the rim late to give Sacramento a three-point lead. 

Hield knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Kings a 100-97 lead with 9.5 seconds remaining and they were able to hold Denver without a shot on the final play to come away with a huge win. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings figured out a way to beat the Nuggets to improve to 8-10 on the season.  

Harrison Barnes makes it a game

When the Kings can’t hit the triple, their offense often screeches to a halt. That is when Harrison Barnes seems to go into attack mode. 

The veteran forward is averaging a career-best 4.4 free throw attempts per game this season and against the Nuggets, he more than doubled that number. Barnes took his defender rim and got to the line where he hit 9-for-10 from the stripe.

Barnes finished the game with a team-high 30 points and added five rebounds and two steals. With Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox on the shelf, the Kings need Barnes to continue to be aggressive in the paint like he was on Saturday afternoon.

Justin James earning a longer look

Trevor Ariza left the Kings to deal with a personal issue six games ago. During that time, rookie second-round pick Justin James has stepped up his game and earned a spot in the rotation. 

James brings an energy and athleticism that the Kings’ second unit needs. Against Denver, he did a little of everything, finishing the evening with six points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in 26 minutes of action.

Ariza was back in the building on Saturday but isn’t ready to play yet. It will be interesting what coach Luke Walton does when the veteran is cleared to play. 

Gary Harris, one-man-band

With all the focus on slowing Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Gary Harris put the Kings on blast early. The Nuggets starting shooting guard dropped in 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first quarter to help build a big lead for the Nuggets.

Harris mostly disappeared as the game went on, finishing with a season-high 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting, but he single-handedly outscored the Kings in the first quarter and set the tempo for the entire game. 

Kings' tailspin continues as team hits rock bottom in loss vs. Pistons

Kings' tailspin continues as team hits rock bottom in loss vs. Pistons

What happened to the Sacramento Kings? They’ve been treading just above rock bottom for the better part of a month, but it doesn’t get much worse than the performance they put forth Wednesday in Detroit.

The Kings looked completely disinterested through the first half, almost as if they were just going to show up in the third quarter and blow a completely depleted Pistons team out of the water.

That didn’t happen. In fact, the Kings were embarrassed by a team missing 60 percent of its starting lineup, falling by a final of 127-106.

“Basketball is a simple game, defend without fouling, make the right play and knock down shots early,” Luke Walton told reporters following the loss. “I feel like we didn't do any of those things. Now, I don't know where our competitive spirit was or because of injuries we thought the game might be easy.”

The Kings looked like a team that has completely lost its way. Players started hunting for shots in the third quarter and throwing up one bad 3-point attempt after another.

Instead of attacking the rim, it was a series of misses, followed by defensive rebounds for Detroit. The only time the offense looked anywhere near cohesive was when Walton went to the bench, turning to a group that included Cory Joseph, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and Harry Giles.

Giles has played sparingly over the last week and Bazemore and Tolliver made their debuts with Sacramento after coming over in a trade over the weekend.  

[RELATED: Kings players react to Bazemore-Tolliver trade with Blazers]

“I think our bad stretches are happening for too long, too many times,” De’Aaron Fox told media members. “There are times where we are out there playing good basketball and there are times where we're not. I said it before, you just try to play the best basketball you can for the most amount of time. I don’t think we're doing that right now.”

On the defensive end, the Kings didn’t move their feet and they fouled at will. 12 of the 13 players who stepped on the floor were called for personal fouls, including five each for Buddy Hield and Dewayne Dedmon.

In total, the Kings picked up 28 personal fouls as a team and sent the Pistons to the line for a staggering 44 free-throw attempts, of which they hit 37. Sacramento was outscored by 25 points at the foul line in a 21-point loss.

“There are times where our defense looks great and then we're not making shots,” Fox said. “There are times where we're making shots but we're trading baskets. We just have to be able to piece it together for as long as we can. Like I said before, we can't let our offense affect our defense or vice versa.”

The Kings have now dropped six straight and they are just 3-15 over their last 18 games. At 15-29, they are rudderless and in desperate need of a win.

“It's about where we're going and I'm a very patient person,” Walton said. “I believe in our group, but we need to do a lot of things including starting games with a much more competitive, engaged mindset. So, I still have all the belief in the world in our team. It's still surreal to be coaching this team, but there are some things that we need to improve on and improve on quickly because it's too late in the season to be having these same types of mistakes so frequently.”

With 38 games remaining in the season, the Kings have officially hit a new low. There is still time to make the season respectable and build for next year, but changes have to be made.

Whether that is a rotational move or a trade or something more drastic, the team needs a shock to the system and the current path the Kings are on is completely unacceptable by any standard.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 127-106 loss to Pistons


Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 127-106 loss to Pistons


Are the Sacramento Kings starting to break?

In a season filled with lows, the Kings dropped their sixth straight game Wednesday night to a completely depleted Detroit Pistons team by a final of 127-106. 

Former league MVP Derrick Rose put on a show, finishing with 22 points and 11 assists. Reserve Christian Wood more than doubled his scoring average, dropping in 23 points on 7-for-8 shooting and Reggie Jackson added 22 points in the blowout win.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings look listless in Detroit and fall to a season-high 14 games under .500 at 15-29 on the season. 

Free Throws

The Kings continue to struggle not only with getting to the free-throw line, but with taking advantage once they get there. 

Sacramento got the stripe lust 23 times on the evening and missed 11 of those shots. It was a team-wide issue with seven players missing at least one freebie.

In addition to struggling with their chances, the Kings put the Pistons at the line 44 times, where they hit 37. 

It’s hard to compete when you get outscored at the free-throw line by 26 points. Sacramento needs to be more aggressive in their attack and they have to stop fouling teams at will.

New Guys

With Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes out with injury, coach Luke Walton turned to Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to eat some minutes. 

Bazemore brought the same energy he’s been known for during his eight-year NBA career. With the Kings needing easy buckets, he got to the free-throw line and finished with seven points, three rebounds and a steal.

Tolliver went scoreless in six minutes of action, missing his only two attempts from the field. 

Bombing Bogi

Bogdan Bogdanovic is starting to get his legs under him after a six-game absence. The Kings need even more from their super-sub.

Against the Pistons, the Serbian-born wing went 3-for-8 from long range to finish with 19 points and three assists.

With Buddy Hield struggling to get anything to fall from the perimeter, Walton might need to rely more on Bogdanovic that originally expected if the Kings have any hopes of pulling out of the spiral. 

Would trying a starting backcourt of Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox make sense for Sacramento at this point?