Following three wins against worthy opponents in close ball games, the Kings got a break of sorts, matching up against two of the worst teams in the league.
These two games came at an opportune time for the Kings as they sought both the .500 winning mark as well as to give concrete evidence that they are a true playoff team.
The Kings faced off against the 5-20 New York Knicks on Friday night, looking to extend the winning streak to four. Being heavily favored, it sure seemed that it would be.
After leading by a large margin throughout the first half, New York began chipping away at the lead and locking down Sacramento on the defensive end.
When it was all said and done, Sacramento came out on the wrong side of the box score and lost a very winnable game.
It was a frustrating loss as the Kings are trying to shake off the layers of dust to make their first postseason appearance since 2006. Losing to terrible teams isn’t helping with the makeover.
Looking to finish the weekend off with a high note at least, Sacramento got back up and traveled to their closest NBA opponent in San Francisco.
The Kings knew that they could not drop back-to-back games to the two worst teams in the league, and boy, did they show their awareness of that when they came out swinging.
Sacramento handed their Nor Cal neighbor a 21 point defeat, giving the Kings sole possession of the seventh seed in the West.
The Kings will now head over to Charlotte and face off against the 12-17 Hornets tomorrow night. Although the Hornets are around the Kings level in the standings, Sacramento has to win this game.
Based on their appearance on paper and their short-handed team, people around the league have a hard time taking Sacramento seriously, and rightfully so. If Sacramento wants to prove that they are a contender they must beat the bad teams and separate themselves from mediocrity, and only then will their ascent up the Western Conference standings take place.
And ascension in the standings could be in the forecast: Having Bagley back has given them a nice boost off the bench in the meantime, and they will only get better once De’Aaron Fox makes his return, which could very well be tomorrow barring any setbacks.
Even though Sacramento has won four of their last five and the team is gathering strength again, that Knicks game seems to cast a tiny, yet dark shadow.
It’s time that beating sub .500 teams should be a given at this point. Contenders don’t have nights that got away. But on the bright side, and as it stands, the Kings have been playing well, standing alone as the seventh seed now, and they will only get better. The game against the Hornets is the time to showcase that.
We might only be 26 games into the season, but each day in a playoff spot feels more and more exciting.