by Matt George
The Sacramento Kings have used their top-five NBA offense to carry them through most of their wins this season. However, there are nights over the course of a year where the shot just isn’t falling and the defense needs to step up. After shooting below 40% for much of the night, the Kings used defense and forced turnovers to propel them to their 22nd win of the season; 104-97 over the Charlotte Hornets.
“They don’t turn it over very often so to get them to turn it over 20 times… it was a gritty win” said Kings head coach Dave Joerger.
Offensively, De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic carried the scoring load, combining for 64 points. Hield had a rough shooting night, going eight of 21 from the field. However, the whole locker room was talking about Fox’s defensive effort on Kemba Walker after the game.
“Fox had nine deflections. Him applying that pressure to one of the best guards in the league, Kemba Walker, is big time,” said Willie Cauley-Stein.
“I like playing with Fox better (than Kemba),” said Harry Giles, “It’s great out there playing with Fox”.
“He is a shorter guard. I’m long-armed. I was just able to get my hand on the ball today. Nothing to it,” said Fox.
The Kings shot just 41% on the night, including 14-37 (37.8%) from behind the three-point line.
Giles and fellow rookie Marvin Bagley had another impactful stretch together, leading the Kings on a run to end the third quarter that gave them the lead, which they held for the rest of the night. The young duo combined for 15 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.
“We are seeing a lot of things now playing together. We made mistakes the other night trying to get each other the ball,” said Bagley, “I tell Harry keep doing that…keep looking for each other”.
Giles added, “We are just trying to come out there and bring a boost. Energy is what we needed so that’s what we did”.
Charlotte turned the ball over 20 times and shot just under 41% from the field. Walker led the team with 31 points on 24 shots.
The Kings are now 22-21 on the season. They didn’t win their 22nd game until March last season.
“It happened a lot faster that people expected but we just go out and play basketball,” said Fox.
Sacramento has the day off tomorrow before taking on the Portland Trail Blazers, another team coming in on the second night of a back-to-back. The Kings blew a lead late in their 113-108 overtime loss to Portland to open up 2019.