April 4, 2018, 12:32 am
The never-say-die Kings once again played tough until the final whistle but once again found themselves in the loss column as they succumbed to Phoenix 97-94
Tough play from Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein on the defensive end and spectacular performances on the offensive side from Justin Jackson and Bogdan Bogdanovic weren’t enough to overcome Josh Jackson, Alex Len and the Suns.
After falling behind by double digits multiple times, the young Kings never quit and even had a chance to tie the game at the end of it all.
The young Kings who had done everything right up until that point though would miss two very good looks from beyond the arc with Bogdanovic and Jackson each missing.
Hield, particularly on the defensive side of things, helped limit the Suns’ Jackson in the fourth quarter to keep the Kings in it and the Kings’ Jackson used a big second half to keep Sacramento close.
The Kings’ newest addition, Nigel Hayes, impressed for much of the game as well, using his length to alter shots, his feet to stay in front of ball-handlers and was active as he swiped and fought for loose balls.
In the first quarter both teams had a rapid pace, however, it didn’t lead to much offense for either squad as the period closed with them tied 22 a piece.
Additionally, both teams shot in the 40 percent range in the first quarter. Cauley-Stein showed good defense in the paint as he forced the Suns into multiple tough looks which resulted in missed baskets.
Some tough shots, and some easy looks as well, just didn’t seem to go through the net for the teams.
But in the second quarter, the Kings’ bucket got even smaller as they scored just 18 points. Sacramento finished the half shooting a minuscule 32.6 percent from the field and just 20 percent from beyond the arc.
On the other hand, Jackson was killing it with the Suns as he dropped 18 points in the game’s first 24 minutes. Many of his damage was done inside the key as he and the Suns scored 26 of their 46 points in the paint.
For the Kings, only Bogdanovic (5-of-10) and Jackson (2-of-4) had field goal percentage of 50 percent.
Cauley-Stein had a nice post-up move which resulted in an and-one (he would miss the free throw) and then he followed that up with an aggressive stretch in which he missed three attempts to close the half.
Cauley-Stein had made it known after last game that he wanted to be more assertive, and, even though it didn’t work out for him during the stretch of play, it was a welcome sight.
After falling behind by double digits in the third quarter, the Kings fought back with a flurry of long balls.
And after making just two 3-pointers in the first half, they knocked down four-straight 3-pointers to trim the Suns lead to three with under three minutes to play in the quarter.
At the end of the third, the Kings trailed 73-69.
In the fourth quarter, the Kings once again found themselves down big before rallying late to make it a close contest. But, the easy points in the paint would prove to be a difference-maker that the Kings could not contend with. The Suns scored 50 of their points inside the key.