The Sacramento Kings offense is no joke. They score with force on drives to the rim, get open threes when the drives are shut off, and with pace on every make or miss at the other end.
The Phoenix Suns 5th ranked defense this season looked no match for the Kings top-ranked offense, so it came down to the Suns improving offense besting the Kings bottom-third defense.
The game was tied 115-115 with 3:39 left on a Torrey Craig free throw, but Sac took the lead back on a pick and roll finish by Sabonis on ANOTHER second-chance opportunity to go up 117-115. The Kings only have 7 offensive rebounds at that point, but they turned a pair of Ayton blocks into scores and took that lead after scrapping for a loose ball.
Sabonis scored the next time too, putting the Kings up by 4. Ayton had a fast break off a Booker steal, pulling the Suns back to one down with 1:14 to go. Fox made a jumper to put the Kings back up 3, and then Booker was called for a questionable offensive foul that was somehow upheld on review, which they answered with a three to put the Kings up 6.
Kessler Edwards had a great game for the Kings (12 points, 7 rebounds for his best game as a King), and their closers closed.
The Suns big three did very well, but the supporting cast did not provide enough support On the other side, the Kings supporting cast had a really great game. All five bench players for the Kings had 9+ points for 65 points (twice their season average).
Suns lose, 128-119, with the Kings outscoring them 13-4 down the stretch.
Suns leaders: Chris Paul with 16 points and 16 assists, Devin Booker 28 points and 8 assists, Deandre Ayton 22 points and 12 rebounds. But the bench had more fouls (14) than baskets (13).
Let’s check how it unfolded...
The Suns blew out to a 17-6 lead, forcing a Kings timeout to reset their mindset... and bring in a couple of bench players to change the momentum.
And change it they did — the Kings went on to outscore the Suns 43-26 run fueled mostly by their bench crew who contributed 32 of those 43 points. During the run, they generated 17 free throws too, compared to the Suns mere 6. The bench guys just couldn’t stop fouling — Cameron Payne and T.J. Warren collected 3 fouls each, Terrence Ross 2, Damion Lee 2 and Jock Landale one. Crazy stuff. Only Ish Wainright failed to commit a foul, but he did miss both of his threes to there’s that. Just an awful stint all around from those guys.
The Kings bench players, in that first half, shot 11-for-18 for 37 points. What the what? If a superstar put up those numbers, the highlights would be all over social media. The Kings bench players average 37 points a whole game, so that’s pretty good.
So much for that good Suns defense — 5th in the league this season — against the Kings top ranked offense. The Kings just forced their way into scoring nonstop anyway, even with their starters having a bad start.
Woof. At the half, the Kings had exercised their offensive power. 67 points. 21 threes. 26 free throws. And it’s only halftime. You can’t give them both threes AND frees.
Kings up 67-59 over Suns at half.
The Suns came out much stronger in the 3rd quarter despite the Kings attacking the basket on every possession. They even turned a pair of Ayton blocks into scores by getting possession back (something not common with Ayton blocks but that’s what happened).
It took till halfway through the quarter for the Suns to cut into the Kings lead, even taking an 88-85 lead, but the Kings bench made a run yet again. This time it was Malik Monk. By the end of the quarter the Kings had taken the lead back, 96-95. The Kings bench is now up to 50 points on the night (they average 37 a game).
The Kings defensive scheme was to trap Booker way out past the three point line to force the ball out of his hands, and he obliged. The Suns mostly scored out of it with their starters, but the bench guys around Booker were not quite as effective.
Chris Paul helped the bench crew take a 103-100 lead on a three by Ish, but a second-chance on the other end got them another three to tie it again.
The Suns called a timeout with the game tie 105-105 and 7:28 left. Chris Paul was up to 14 points and 16 assists, while Deandre Ayton was at 19 points and 10 rebounds. Devin Booker was about to return for the stretch run with 21 points and 7 assists for the game. Josh Okogie has 15 points on 4-8 shooting (3-4 on threes), and Terrence Ross had 18 points in his 21 minutes.
Coming out of timeout, Okogie made a bad turnover while Malik Monk drained a bank-shot three in transition. That’s how this night is really going.
The Kings went up 112-107 on a 9-2 run that included several transition scores that the Suns just didn’t need to commit.
Booker made a tough layup in traffic only to see the Kings use that like a runout to get an open corner three to go back up 4, 115-111.
Booker made a three to pull the Suns back to 1, then Torrey Craig got free throws off a runout of their own and made 1 to tie it up, 115-115 with 3 to go.