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Pelicans Snap Five-Game Skid With Win Over Struggling Kings

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Sacramento has lost eight of its past 10 games, including three straight as the downward spiral continues

After struggling through the first six games of a seven-game homestand, the Sacramento Kings had a solid chance to get back into the win column against a New Orleans Pelicans team that had lost five-straight games.

Much to the dismay of Kings fans, that relief did not arrive on Sunday night.

Zion Williamson carved up the Kings defense, scoring 31 points in a 128-123 win for the New Orleans Pelicans at Golden 1 Center.

“I do my best to remain calm during games. I’m frustrated right now. It came out tonight,” Kings head coach Luke Walton said postgame, explaining why he was animated more than usual on the sideline tonight.

Losers of three straight and eight of their last 10 games, Walton stated that he believes the team can overcome the latest bump in the road.

“We will continue to work, continue to trust each other. We will be fine.”

New Orleans used a big first-half from Williamson to take a nine-point lead into the break. The number-one pick from the 2019 draft scored 18 of his 31 points in the first half.

Williamson would go on to finish 13-of-15 from the field, proving that the Sacramento offense had no answer for the star forward.

Foxin’ Around

While the Kings might have lost their third-straight game, one thing is for certain: De’Aaron Fox did all that he could for the Kings on Sunday.

Fox put on a scoring display against the Pelicans, scoring a career-high 43 points on 17-of-27 shooting to go along with 15 assists and four steals.

‘Swipa’ was attacking often against New Orleans, scoring 24 points in the second-half to keep the Kings alive late.

According to the Sacramento Kings Communications Team, the last Kings player to have at least 30 points and 10 assists through three quarters was Mike Bibby who had 31 points and 10 assists against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 27, 2005.

Fox is also the first Kings player in franchise history with 40 points & 10 assists in a game since Tiny Archibald on March 13, 1973 for the Kansas City Royals (ESPN Stats & Info).

It was the best game of the young guard’s career, who looked unstoppable and motivated to lead his team to a much-needed win. Unfortunately, it would not be enough–but that does not diminish the fact that Fox was a revelation on Sunday.

Aside from Fox and Marvin Bagley III, nobody else could get into a groove late for Sacramento, allowing New Orleans to separate themselves for good thanks to the play of former Duke Blue Devils Williamson, Brandon Ingram and J.J. Redick.

MB3 stays hot

After originally being considered questionable due to a sore wrist, Marvin Bagley III was a bright spot yet again for the Kings. Bagley, who scored 20 points in Friday’s loss, poured in 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds during Sunday’s loss.

The 21-year-old has looked a lot more comfortable after laboring through a rough start to the season, playing both good offense and defense for Sacramento.

Over his last four games, Bagley is shooting 62-percent from the field and averaging 16.2 points per game.

Buddy Hield scored 18 points (five-of-11 from three-point range) while Richaun Holmes contributed with 16 points and seven rebounds on seven-of-12 shooting from the field.

Sunday’s loss is a tough one to swallow.

De’Aaron Fox had arguably his best game as a pro, topping the 40-point mark while Marvin Bagley III put on a show of his own–and it still would not be enough.

The defense continues to be the most obvious problem. Nobody else in the NBA is allowing more points per game to opponents than the Sacramento Kings.

Things don’t get any easier from here either, with the Kings now staring down the realistic possibility of an extended losing streak with the Los Angeles Clippers coming up next on the schedule.

How long will it take before changes are made–from a roster and personnel standpoint.

If the Kings stretch this losing streak to six, seven or longer, one could wonder if head coach Luke Walton’s job security could come into question. Along with coaching concerns, the roster clearly needs some tweaking.

For yet another game, Nemanja Bjelica–the primary starting power-forward the past two seasons–has not seen the floor.

While a return for Bjelica assuredly would not be significant, it might be time for general manager Monte McNair and the rest of the front office to start making some calls.

The buzz surrounding the team’s surprising 3-1 start is long gone. Reality has set in.

Coming Up

Sacramento will hit the road for the first time in over two weeks, traveling to Los Angeles for a rematch with the Clippers.

The Kings suffered their worst loss of the season against Los Angeles last Friday night, losing by a final of 138-100 at Golden 1 Center. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 53 points in the lopsided affair.

Be sure to tune in for all of the action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, starting with pregame coverage at 6:30pm PST followed by tip-off at 7:00pm PST.