• The Kings erased a 21-point deficit to defeat the Bulls in Sacramento on Monday night, 104-98, sending Chicago to their seventh straight loss.

    It was a slow start for the Kings, shooting 0-of-10 from the field and falling into a 10-0 deficit. They didn’t end up scoring until six minutes into the game. Dave Joerger wants this team to play fast and that was evident with his display on the sidelines during the first quarter. He was jumping up and down, yelling at his team to push the pace and play with some intensity. The Kings have the tools to play with pace because of their youth and athletic pieces so it’s something they really need to place emphasis on more often.

    The offense was one thing, but you could argue that the defense was just as bad as the Bulls were seemingly able to get whatever they wanted. Justin Holiday hit three first quarter 3-pointers. He isn’t shy about bombing away from downtown and seeing the Kings on the schedule would have made his eyes light up. There was also little resistance down low. Luckily for the Kings, the Bulls were struggling to make shots consistently too but they were at least showing some sort of coherency on that side of the ball.

    The first quarter concluded with the Bulls on top 28-9. A smattering of boos could be heard from the Sacramento crowd to top off the nightmarish start to the game. The Kings wound up shooting just 4-of-20 from the field and 1-of-10 from three through 12 minutes; add six turnovers to that and you can understand why they only managed a measly nine points in the first, a season-low for Sacramento.

    A Vince Carter three-ball was a good way to start the second quarter, but the lack of effort and consistency on offense just wasn’t cutting the cake for the Kings. Joerger, again, could be seen on the sidelines clapping his hands, yelling for the Kings to move the ball. There was a lot of standing around and watching the ball handler so you can understand why the coach would be so animated. Yes, the All-Star break is right around the corner but it’s no excuse for the team to switch off and play with minimal effort on both sides of the ball.

    Bulls center Robin Lopez was tossed from the game with under five minutes left in the quarter. Lopez was upset about a non-call on offense and continued to voice his frustrations for a few possessions. He was then called for a personal foul and proceeded to let rip on the officials before being ejected.

    The Bulls lost their anchor in the middle and it made life a little easier on the Kings. Considering the first quarter deficit Sacramento were in a pretty good spot, trailing 55-41 at the half. The Kings bumped their field goal percentage up to 35.0 percent, still not great, but a whole lot better than it was previously. In addition to that, they shot a tidy 4-of-5 from three in the quarter. Zach LaVine was proving to be a problem for the Kings, dropping 17 first half points with a couple of 3-pointers. He also did this to JaKarr Sampson:

    The Kings looked like a completely different team out of the gate in the third quarter. They played with purpose and energy on offense, finally instilling what Joerger was preaching through the first 24 minutes of the game. A 12-3 run cut Chicago’s lead to 58-53 just over three minutes into the third.

    They kept rolling as the quarter progressed, taking their first lead of the game midway through the period. However, during their comeback rookie De’Aaron Fox came up limping after an alley-oop and went straight to the locker room. Fox was diagnosed with a sprained left ankle and would not return to the game. X-rays came back negative which is promising, and essentially rules out anything major.

    Through three quarters the Kings had trimmed the lead down to two, trailing 79-77 heading into the final frame. They put up 36 points in the third to Chicago’s 24 and continued to bump up their percentages, sitting at 42.2 percent at that point.

    The Bulls kept their horns in front to begin the fourth but another 12-3 run by Sacramento gave them an 89-87 lead with 5:45 left in the game. Chicago refused to roll over down the stretch despite being on the backend of a three-game road trip. The Kings, however, managed to make enough plays to get them the victory, snapping their mini two-game skid.

    It was a game Sacramento needed to win. Chicago was reeling coming in but you wouldn’t have known that after the first quarter. The Kings stabilized themselves and did what they needed to do, outscoring the Bulls 95-70 through the final three quarters of the contest.

    Game Notes

    • JaKarr Sampson was a game changer tonight. He played 18 minutes off the bench, totaling nine points, six rebounds and one block on 4-of-5 shooting from the field (1-of-1 from three). Sampson is a ball of energy whenever he’s on the court and is one of the team’s better on-ball defenders. He can let his man get loose for a 3-pointer every now and then, but 1-on-1 he’s an absolute menace. Joerger would be justified in finding more minutes for Sampson as the team seems to take it to another level when he’s on the floor.
    • The Kings, despite their poor shooting in the first quarter, actually went on to out shoot the Bulls. Sacramento shot 44.0 percent from the field to just 40.5 percent for Chicago. The Bulls, however, were more effective from deep making 14-of-36 to the Kings’ 11-of-32.
    • Bogdan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 15 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field. All three of his makes were from downtown, including a massive 3-pointer down the stretch to essentially seal the victory.

    The Kings will not play again until Friday night against the Blazers. This means they won’t be playing again until after the February 8 trade deadline so for some players, it may have been their last game for the Kings.

    Sacramento’s roster will more than likely have a similar, if not the same, makeup come Friday as no major moves are expected. A few of the team’s veterans have been mentioned in trade rumors over the past few weeks but, aside from the proposed George Hill trade, nothing has come close to imminent.

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