The Sacramento Kings (30-26) pulled away in the second quarter and never looked back, rolling to a 117-104 victory against the Phoenix Suns (11-47) behind a career-high 32 points from Marvin Bagley III.
The Suns were in early Sunday afternoon mode to start off the game, with the Kings pulling out to a 15-6 advantage while trying to exploit a size advantage of Nemanja Bjelica over the combination of Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges.
With the return of Devin Booker and Tyler Johnson making his first start, DeAndre Ayton was the only size in Phoenix’s starting lineup.
While the Suns did go on a quick 9-2 spurt in the middle of the period to keep things close, it was not a great start.
To summarize the futility of the first quarter...
Fast break points - Kings 11, Suns 4
Turnovers - Suns 5, Kings 2
Points in the paint - Kings 18, Suns 14
Rebounds - Kings 15, Suns 10
Assists - Kings 10, Suns 4
It really could have been much worse than the 33-23 lead the Kings built after one period.
Bagley III scored eight straight points for the Kings bridging the first and second quarters, helping the Kings stretch their lead to 40-25. Early in the second quarter, and the Suns were already teetering on the edge of another blowout.
Sacramento finally pushed their lead over 20 on a three point shot by Buddy Hield late in the first half and took a 63-44 lead back into the locker room.
Booker led the Suns with 15 points and three assists, but also had as many turnovers (five) as every other player on both teams combined. That’s right, five for Booker and five for all other 19 guys who played in the game.
The Kings outscored the Suns 12-4 on points off those turnovers to help build their sizable lead.
Birthday boy Josh Jackson (22 years old) had one of his quietest halves of basketball in the past few weeks, scoring just four points on 2-5 shooting.
Dragan Bender hoisted up a couple ugly heaves that only faintly resembled three point shot attempts (they went in the general direction of the rim) to contribute to the Suns miserable 2-14 performance from three point range in the first half. He is still scared to shoot and the other team knows it.
Bagley led the Kings with 12 points in the first half. De’Aaron Fox had 10 points, five assists and zero turnovers.
After Booker got screwed out of a chance for a four-point play (he made the three, but it was called a non-shooting foul) he picked up two quick frustration fouls to give him four on the game.
It’s a recurring theme for the team. They don’t get calls. Then they complain about the bad officiating. Then they get frustrated and lose their composure. Then it continues to cost them several plays after the bad call.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
The end result this time was Booker heading to the bench with the Suns down 72-49 early in the third quarter.
The Kings lead bulged to 25 before birthday-boy scored six quick points to bring it back under 20. Jackson was still struggling with his shot overall, though, and also had three turnovers in the quarter.
Just when it looked like the Kings would kick it in cruise control, the Suns went on a 12-2 run to close within 83-69 in the waning moments of the third quarter. Inexplicably, at that point Jackson managed to draw a technical foul... from the bench.
Coach Igor subbed Jackson back in the game, assumably to keep him from picking up his second technical foul on the bench, and he hit Bridges with a full court pass that resulted in free throws with just a second left in the period. These are the hills and valleys of the Josh Jackson experience.
Bridges hit both free throws and the Suns trailed 87-72 entering the fourth quarter.
Booker hit a three to cut the lead down to 12 at the start of the fourth quarter, but also quickly picked up his fifth foul, sending him back to the bench. Booker finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Bagley, who finished with a game-high 32 points, exploited his match up and kept the Kings with a comfortable amount of separation to finish out the game. Phoenix just couldn’t get within single digits and really make Sacramento sweat out the victory.
The size of Willie Cauley-Stein (10 points, eight rebounds, five blocks), Bjelica and Bagley gave the Suns fits all night. Bender lacks the strength and the collection of small forwards lack the height. Despite that, the Suns came back to win the battle on the boards 54-49 and points in the paint 56-50.
De’Aaron Fox also had a nice sequence with an emphatic dunk and chase-down block late in the game. He finished with 17 points and a game-high nine assists while showing why he may be one of the best point guards in the league for years to come.
Ayton scored 16 points on 8-10 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Once again, it would be nice to see him getting more touches when he shoots 80% from the field... another recurring theme.
Kelly Oubre Jr. cooled off, finishing just 3-10 from the field for seven points, ending his streak of 16 straight games scoring in double figures off the bench. The Suns bench was outscored 53-25.
The Suns, who entered the game a league-worst .329 from three point range, managed just a meager 6-27. They could use a few players who can shoot the basketball.
The Kings finished their six game home stand 5-1. They now start a four game road trip against the Denver Nuggets.
Phoenix will play their last game before the All-Star break on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers. A loss would match the franchise-worst losing streak at 15 games.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the Suns are a very bad basketball team.