Kings put up "perfect game" in blowout win over Nets
Kings move above .500 with trouncing of Nets
Light the beam!
Those three simple words are starting to gain traction in Sacramento. For a fanbase that has seen some dark times, a purple beam of light shining in the night sky is becoming a rally cry.
Terence Davis lights the beam in Sacramento after his big night in the Kings' win! 🔦🟣
31 PTS, 9 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL, 7 3PM
— NBA (@NBA)
Nov 16, 2022
In a jarring turn of events, the Sacramento Kings have gone from 0-4 and wallowing in last place to 7-6 and being a team on the rise. Winners of seven of their last nine games, Mike Brown’s crew stormed onto the national stage with an absolute drubbing of the Brooklyn Nets while TNT cameras were rolling.
“I’m proud of the guys in the locker room and I’m excited for the city of Sacramento,” Brown said following the win.
It took a few minutes for the Kings to find their footing against Kevin Durant and a dysfunctional Nets squad, but they dropped the hammer on the visiting team in the second quarter, posting a 29-4 run to put the game away.
There is a growing confidence with this team. They have quickly gone through the stages of learning how to compete, learning how to close out games and now learning how to string together wins with their current four game streak. This was a 48 minute effort where seven players notched double-figure scoring, the team posted 39 assists and all 14 players in uniform contributed in some way.
“I feel like if there was a perfect game, it was tonight,” De’Aaron Fox said. “It was definitely tonight.”
De’Aaron Fox from the locker room after the Kings’ blowout win over the Nets.
— James Ham (@James_HamNBA)
Nov 16, 2022
The final score of 153-121 doesn’t truly capture the dominant performance by Sacramento. After a slew of tough games that went down to the wire, the Kings’ offense started rolling early and everyone contributed.
Brown’s squad has shaken off the tough start to the season and has now won seven of their last nine. The two losses came at the buzzer and both showed up on the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report for having egregious errors in the final moments.
At 7-6, the Kings have climbed all the way to eighth in Western Conference standings. It’s an abrupt turn around that requires a deeper dive.
Offense is humming
With the victory over Brooklyn, the Kings moved into second place in the league in offensive rating at 116.5. This is an interesting turn of events. Brown is known as a defensive-minded coach, but his roster is filled with offensive players. He’s installed a motion offense that is still in its fledgling state, but the basics are working.
The raw offensive rating number is impressive, but it’s also bolstered by a 153 point night. In reality, it was only a matter of time before the Kings had one of these types of performances. They currently rank second in true shooting (61.1 percent) and effective field goal percentage (57.8 percent). They are also third in assist ratio (19.9) and fourth in both assist percentage (65.8 percent) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.92).
To add a few more encouraging stats, the Kings are fifth in the league in 3-point percentage, hitting 38.1 percent of their triples. They are also fifth in the league in 3-point attempts per game at 38.8. To top this off, the Kings are second in the league in overall field goal percentage at 49.3 percent and they lead the NBA in 2-point field goal percentage at 58.4 percent.
The Kings get in the paint, hit the easy pass, knock down a high percent from 3-point range and they finish at the rim. This is a recipe for success and while it’s still early, this is an offense that should improve with time, not regress.
Next man up
De’Aaron Fox is the head of the snake, leading the team in scoring at 24.5 points per game and he’s tied for the lead in assists at 6.3 dimes a night. But this is truly an equal opportunity offense, which was on full display on Tuesday night.
Terence Davis posted a season-high 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field and 7-for-9 from 3-point range. He earned a few extra minutes in the second half with rookie Keegan Murray going down with a back issue.
Davis’ big night, or at least a version of this from someone, is becoming par for the course for the 2022-23 Kings team. Brown knows what he is going to get from Fox and you can add Domantas Sabonis and Kevin Huerter to that list as well. After this trio, it’s a free-for-all. On any given night, Davis, Malik Monk, Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray or Trey Lyles can step up and post big numbers. The Kings are taking the “sharing is caring” mantra to a new level.
Can the Kings withstand a long term injury? That is yet to be seen, but Brown’s early season tinkering has all 15 players engaged in the action and ready to step on the court when given an opportunity. An outburst from a player like Davis was meaningful in the win over the Nets, but not unusual from this team early in the season. There has been a big contribution from someone other than the Kings’ top three scorers in every game and often times, more than one player is making an offensive impact.
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Maybe the best defense is a really good offense. The defensive side of the ball was always going to take more time. If there is good news, it is that the Kings’ defensive rating has stayed stagnant at around 114 all season.
Sacramento currently ranks 26th in the league in defensive rating, but their net rating (offensive rating - defensive rating = net rating) of +2.5 is the tenth best in the NBA after the win over Brooklyn. As long as the Kings’ offense can continue to shine, the team is buying time for the defense to catch up.
On the positive side, the Kings continue to sit near the top of the league in defensive rebounding percentage, trailing only the Cleveland Cavaliers on the season. Their ability to limit offensive rebounds has led to the fourth fewest second chance points against in the league at 11.7 per game. Brown and his staff have also made a conscious decision to give up offensive rebounding opportunities in exchange for a better transition defense. The Kings currently give up the second fewest transition points in the league at 10.5 a night.
On the downside, the Kings rank 28th in the league in points in the paint allowed at 54.2 points per game. Brown’s defense also ranks in the bottom five in overall field goal percentage allowed, as well as 3-point percentage allowed.
There are some signs that the Kings’ defense is improving. Sabonis fouled out of three of the team’s first six games, but he hasn’t been disqualified since. This means that Sabonis is doing a better job of playing defense with his feet and his chest, not his hands. It also points to potential improvement from the guards and forwards. Sabonis isn’t a natural shot blocker, but he’s picked up plenty of fouls early in the year as a help defender on perimeter breakdowns.
The Kings continue their four game home stand on Thursday against a team that has historically given them fits in the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich's squad is in a transition year. After a strong start to the year, the Spurs have dropped 7-of-8, but they compete and shouldn't be taken lightly.
On Sunday, the Kings will host Marvin Bagley and the Detroit Pistons. Like the Spurs, Detroit has lost 7-of-8 and are reeling. Cade Cunningham continues to miss time with a shin issue and Isaiah Stewart is out with a right foot sprain.
Sacramento needs to take care of business on their home court before venturing back out on the road for three tough games in Memphis, Atlanta and Boston.