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Kings Blow Big Lead In Brutal Season Finale

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

On the last day of the 2018-19 season, a season that mostly brought Sacramento fans a much needed breath of fresh air, the Kings blew a 28-point lead.

Sacramento exploded for 87 points in the first half, the second-most first half points in franchise history but it wasn’t enough as they blew a 28 point lead en route to a 136-131 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center in Portland. Sacramento hit 13 three-pointers in the first half, the most in a half in franchise history to put them ahead 87-62 at the half, but Portland would go on to outscore the Kings 74-44 to end the game.

With the loss, the Kings miss a chance to eclipse the 40-win mark for the first time since 2005-06 as they finish the year with a 39-43 record.

Former King Skal Labissiere came back to haunt the Kings on Wednesday as he scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to fuel a Blazers team that was without the services of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Enes Kanter. Blazers rookie Anfernee Simons had a coming out game with 37 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists as Portland secured the three seed spot in the NBA Playoffs, and will now face Oklahoma City in the first round this weekend.

Blown lead aside, there were some positives on this fateful last night of the season.

History was made as Buddy Hield hit the 600th three of his career, passing Blazers guard Damian Lillard for the most made three-pointers over a players first three seasons. Hield capped off an incredible breakout season with 9 points on three-of-five from downtown over only 16 minutes of action as head coach Dave Joerger sat the starters after the end of the first half. Hield put the entire NBA on notice this season with his three-point ability, and has proved himself to be the elite shooting guard Sacramento has been looking for, and also proved to be a perfect backcourt compliment to De’Aaron Fox.

Hield finishes the season with averages of 20.7 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 42.6 percent from the three point line.

De’Aaron Fox capped off his breakout sophomore season with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with 9 assists, all in the first half. Fox, who was looked at by critics as a guard who needed to learn how to shoot more efficiently, did just that in 2018-19. The former Kentucky Wildcat improved his field goal percentage from 41.2 percent to 45.5 percent and his three-point shooting percentage from 30.7 percent to 36.7 percent. Fox, drafted fifth in the 2017 draft, outperformed those picked above him this season as he took huge strides towards becoming a perennial All-star.

Fox finishes the year holding averages of 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

Marvin Bagley III capped off his rookie year with 20 points and 9 rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting. Bagley showed that he is without a doubt Sacramento’s power forward of the future, and will look to take a leap in year two like fellow teammates Fox and Hield did in previous seasons.

Yogi Ferrell scored 17 points off of the bench while Frank Mason III and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 15 points each.Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica chipped in with 10 points apiece, while Willie Cauley-Stein had 8 points in his possible last game in a Kings uniform as he heads into restricted free agency. No Kings starter played in the second half, and Sacramento lost the battle of the benches to Portland as they were outscored 74-44 in the second half.

While this wasn’t the ideal way to end the season, the 2018-19 Kings could go down as the team that started it all. This team could mark beginning of a revitalized team in Sacramento, with young talent and tremendous upside as they head into the summer with incredible optimism that teams of the past have never had. The Kings have their backcourt set with Fox and Hield for years to come. Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III dazzled fans this season with their explosive play. Bogdan Bogdanovic shook off a rough couple of months to prove he is the sixth man the Kings need. With youth on their side and money to spend, the summer of 2019 will be without a doubt the biggest offseason for the Sacramento Kings in over 15 years.

The highs of this season were unforgettable, from buzzer-beaters to record breaking performances, to feelings of excitement that fans had waited years for. The lows, we wish we could forget. The blown leads, injuries, disappointment. It all felt familiar to Kings fans. But if one thing is for sure, it is this: the future has never looked brighter. Sacramento’s 14 win improvement from last season was the second largest win improvement in the NBA behind the Milwaukee Bucks 16-win improvement. Which brings up the next question:

What do they have in store for next year?

Coming Up

The biggest offseason in the past 14 years will take place for the Sacramento Kings, and it all starts on July 1st. After a season that saw Sacramento take their first steps forward in over a decade, what will this team do to solidify their status as an up and coming team? Lots of questions will be answered this summer:

  • UPDATE:  Vlade Divac has inked an extension that will keep him as Kings general manager through the 2022-23 season. Divac was entering the last year of his contract, and it looks like Vivek Ranadive is ready to ride out the foreseeable future with Divac at the helm.
  • What will the Kings do about Willie Cauley-Stein? The Kings starting center is now an unrestricted free agent, meaning the Kings have the right to match any offer that Cauley-Stein accepts. Will they let him walk?
  • Harrison Barnes: will he opt in or restructure his deal? Barnes has been an integral piece of this Kings team, and Sacramento would very much like to keep him. But at what cost? Barnes has a $25 million player option for 2019-20. Would he be open to restructuring his deal so that Divac and Co. can bring in other assets?
  • UPDATE: Kings head coach Dave Joerger has been fired by Vlade Divac. There’s no questioning that Joerger has steered the Kings in the right direction after years of turmoil, but it looks as if the Kings will be making a coaching change this summer.
  • Rounding out the roster: The Kings look like they are a few pieces from really going to the next level. Will they take a hard look at big names on the free agent market like Nikola Vucevic? Will they take another flyer on Corey Brewer? Sacramento will need to be aggressive on the free agent market in order to take that next step.

For all offseason news regarding the Kings, tune in to Sports 1140 KHTK or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.