They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Sacramento encountered something big: a surprise. The Texas road show went a little differently than what Sacramento had expected. With three games slated in four nights, the Kings faced off against the Spurs, Mavericks, and the Rockets.
The Spurs are playing sub .500 basketball this season while the Mavs and Rockets are some of the better teams in the Western Conference, let alone the NBA. So it made sense that the Kings would probably win in San Antonio then fall to Doncic and Harden respectively.
But Walton and the Kings, with tumbleweed blowing all about, took a detour.
Sacramento blew a win against the Spurs after late turnovers and a game tying three by former King, Marco Belinelli, that forced the game into overtime.
On the last possession of the game, down by one, the Kings missed four game winning shots.
It was a tough loss and things were not set on getting any easier
Onto Dallas and the young, multi-faceted MVP hopeful, Luka Doncic.
Surprisingly, Sacramento led by double digits for the majority of the game, mostly with the help of good shooting from Buddy Hield and Nemanja Bjelica, but it wouldn’t be Kings basketball if it wasn’t close at the very end.
Dallas clawed their way back to a two-point deficit and put the ball in the hands of their star. In a pivotal play where Dallas could tie it or take the lead, Doncic missed a heavily contest layup, thanks to Cory Joseph, and the Kings secured the victory with a dunk on the other end.
It was a glorious win against a great team, but the heaviest challenge was yet to come.
The Kings ended their Texas trip in Houston against Harden, Westbrook, and the rest of the 15-7 Rockets.
The contest was close and the game would go down to the final shot. With little time remaining and a tie game, Russell Westbrook went coast to coast and laid in a point blank shot to give Houston the lead with 1.0 second remaining.
It was a crushing blow, but the Kings stayed determined. They called a timeout and advanced the ball. On the inbound play, Bjelica broke out and caught the ball in deep three point land. Without time to hesitate, he heaved up the ball, and Kings fans watched with wide eyes and bitten finger nails as the ball soared towards the basket.
It went in and mayhem ensued.
Sacramento somehow lost to the Spurs, but followed it up with a win over Dallas and a stolen game in Houston, all of which were on the road.
Bjelica was the hero in back to back games as he tied his career high of 30 points against Dallas and delivered the final blow to Houston.
Walton stayed with an eight-man lineup in each of the wins, cutting Dedmon from his role off the bench. The Kings played their best players, and they came out on top.
Luckily for their tired legs, Walton will play more than eight players against the Thunder tonight with Bagley slated to make his return.
It will be a huge boost for a Kings team who has played through injuries all season.
Bagley, who hasn’t played since opening night, will continue his sophomore campaign and try to give the Kings a much needed lift until Fox returns.
Of course Sacramento is still in the playoff hunt, but they need to stay relevant until they are at full health.
It’s been a fun season thus far and heroes have emerged in the absence of Divac’s rising stars. Although it’s been irritating to watch at some points, the team puts it all on the floor and gives it their best, despite a limited lineup.
Hopefully, Bagley can light a spark and lead the Kings to a win against the 11-12 Thunder to give Sacramento their first three-game winning streak of the year.