SACRAMENTO -- After a brutal last-minute loss to the Warriors on Sunday night, no one would have really faulted the Kings for letting another game slip away Monday on the second night of a back-to-back.
The defeat at the hands of Golden State put any hopes of a late play-in run to bed for Sacramento. When the Kings took the court less than 24 hours later, it appeared that the Dallas Mavericks expected a downtrodden Kings squad when they rolled into Golden 1 Center.
Sacramento punched the Mavs in the face coming out of the gate, opening up a 20-3 lead in the first quarter. Dallas battled back, but the Kings held on for the 113-106 win.
One of the stars of the game was center Richaun Holmes, who is fresh off a five-game absence with a hamstring injury and still working his way through a minutes restriction.
He was dominant against the Mavericks, posting 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds and two blocks. Following the game Holmes stepped in for a postgame interview on NBC Sports California and he had a special surprise for the viewers.
Normally the Holmes family posts a video celebrating the Kings’ wins. For the first time this season Dr. Lydecia and Dr. Richard Holmes were in the stands and the family had a good time celebrating the victory together.
“This was the first game my parents have been too since the whole pandemic happened,” Richaun said. “So just to have them in the stands, cheering me on, bringing their usual energy -- those are priceless moments. I’m just happy I could share that with them.”
Holmes was supposed to be limited to just 20 minutes for the game, but when he returned to the court with 9:10 remaining in the fourth, it was clear that coach Luke Walton was going for the win and blowing right past the restriction.
“I’ve been telling them I feel good since last week,” Holmes said. “I’m a guy that just wants to play. Honestly, I don’t do well with managing minutes and things. Once I’m out there, I feel like I can give it my all.”
Holmes plays with an incredible spirit when he’s on the court. He used to be just an energy big that came in, played limited minutes and then cheered his teammates on. That’s not who he has become as a member of the Sacramento Kings.
“His energy is always at a really really high level, he plays his heart out every night, leaves it all out on the floor,” Moe Harkless said. “He gives us a different dynamic. We can do a lot of different things defensively when he’s on the floor.”
The free agent-to-be has developed into a big-time defender and one of the most efficient scorers in the league. He’s posting career numbers across the board and he’s a player that has won over his teammates.
“You see the chemistry that we have together, that we’ve grown together throughout the year,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “It’s just something that we are continuing to grow [and I will] be on him this offseason so we can continue to make that chemistry work.”
That last line came with a smirk. Haliburton, and likely every other player on the roster, is ready to start the recruitment process now. They know how valuable the 27-year-old center has been for their team, despite the record this season.
The team also understands that Holmes is a perfect fit for the uptempo style they want to play with. For Haliburton specifically, he is the lob threat partner that the rookie needs.
Holmes will be a hot commodity on the open market. He’s developed into a devastating weapon in the pick-and-roll and he’s the best interior defender on the Kings’ roster. He’s also a good locker room guy and his family brings a positive vibe.
With any luck, Holmes will stick around and continue to grow on the court with the Kings. Even at less than a 100 percent, he is a difference-maker for Sacramento and someone that has the potential to be a foundational piece moving forward.