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.
HB delivered and the bench loved it. pic.twitter.com/xn41O8RJRH— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) December 1, 2019
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.