Outrageous Officiating on Last-Second Three Ensures Kings Loss

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 07: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors is guarded by Davion Mitchell #15 of the Sacramento Kings at Chase Center on November 07, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It’s not an excuse, it’s a blatant fact. The officials blew it on Kevin Huerter’s last-second three-point attempt, granting him no whistle as his jump shot motion was struck twice by a defending Klay Thompson, which in turn finalized a 113-116 loss.

“I know there are missed calls throughout the course of the game — missed calls on us, missed calls on our opponent,” coach Mike Brown said post game. “I just want, at the end of the game, for somebody to step up and make the right call. And a guy gets hit on the arm shooting a three, it’s a foul.”

Despite Golden State’s five-game losing streak and the fact the Kings played well for most of the game, Steph Curry kept his team in that position where they could come away with a victory. In other words, with his 47-point night, he gave the referees the perfect opportunity to spoil the game.

The Kings were playing well on the backs of some nice performances. Domantas Sabonis had a 19-point game, adding in 14 rebounds and 6 assists, and Malik Monk had another great showing off the bench with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Then, of course, there was De’Aaron Fox who put up 28 points and 6 assists.

Golden State was off to a nice start, hitting their threes and shooting over 60% in the first eight minutes or so. However, the Kings were able to slow them down—with the help of some point blank misses by the Warriors—and they ended the period on a 16-2 run with some fantastic play from Monk, who went 3 of 3 from beyond the arc.

Three’s had started falling late in the first and they continued into the second for the most part while Golden State saw little three-point production from anyone not named Steph Curry. And the Warriors did not help themselves by committing 9 second quarter fouls that generated 15 free throw attempts for Sacramento, who missed only one.

So the Kings lead by 12 points at half time, shooting over 45% from three and hitting 19 of 21 free throws while limiting Golden State to 31.3% from deep and just 11 attempts from the stripe.

The third was a pretty poor offensive quarter that the Warriors won 24-21. Curry was still forced to carry his team for the most part, but Sacramento had the faucet shut off on three-pointers, going just 1 of 11 in the period. The Kings lead by 9.

In quarter number-four, the Warriors came to life as Andrew Wiggins joined Curry in carrying his team, scoring 13 points on a perfect 5 of 5 from the field, including two three’s. And with Curry’s 17 fourth quarter points, they combined for 30 of the team’s 37.

The Kings got a few three’s from Monk, Huerter, Davion Mitchell, and Terence Davis, plus some production from Fox, but Golden State exploited Sacramento’s defense in the final quarter of play.

In spite of a ten-point deficit at the ten minute mark, the Warriors climbed back in it to get a lead with about a minute and a half remaining, which was their first lead since late in the first quarter. But the Kings never buckled, doing their best—and pretty well—to hang with it in the final ninety seconds of play. 

Down one and with one to give, Sacramento went with an aggressive approach to go for the steal rather than the foul with about twenty seconds left. Fox almost snagged one, and they went with the same approach. They stuck with it for a while until they gave a foul with nine seconds remaining. And then they tried once more until fouling with a little less than a second and a half left.

“We wanted to foul sooner, try to extend the game,” coach Brown said after the game when asked about whether that was intended. “It didn’t happen.”

So down three with a little over a second left, the Kings advanced it with a timeout, got the ball to Huerter, who was fouled on his attempt to the sound of the home crowd and not a single whistle.

A bad look for NBA officiating

Okay, so that final no-call was glaring.

Without a doubt, Kings fans and players have every reason to be pissed at how this game ended. But in case one wants to pile on to the pain, consider another thing.

As less than 90 seconds were on the clock in the fourth, the refs came to the scorer’s table for a stoppage in play. The stoppage may have very well benefitted the Kings as it arose amid a Warriors run that had just gotten them the lead, but it would spell out piss-poor luck for Sacramento.

The play in question on the officials call back to NBA headquarters regarded a play that had occurred about five minutes prior, and it was for a shot clock violation against Golden State that was never called, which allowed Curry a missed layup that was tipped in by Looney and padded the Warriors lead by two. But since it was well in the past, nothing could be changed.

In the end, it felt like salt on the wound for the Kings, even if it were just two points.. 

Sabonis and Metu’s backup minutes

Just as relevant as the officiating was the matter of the Kings’ ability to switch on the defensive end.

No matter how good Sabonis was for the offense, his defense—while not horrible—did often allow the Warriors to get it going offensively, especially from deep.

Golden State got off to a 14-point lead after starting the game shooting 10 of 16, including 2 of 3 from deep. With that lead at about the four minute mark in the first, Chimezie Metu came in for Sabonis, getting the primary minutes at the backup 5.

Sure, Richaun Holmes has been a major disappointment thus far, especially after another bad game in Orlando, but it was Metu’s performance in the Kings’ last trip to San Francisco that granted him this opportunity.

When Sacramento made an improbable comeback against the Warriors at the end of October, it was Metu playing the center position. They still lost at the Chase Center, but it was Metu’s ability to better switch more swiftly from the 1 to the 5 that really helped the Kings climb back in it.

Interestingly enough, when Metu was on the floor for the Kings on Monday night, they played their best defense.

Between late in the first and early in the second (about seven minutes of play), the Warriors went 4 of 13 from the field after their 10 of 16 start in the first seven or eight minutes. That was with Metu out there, and Sacramento went on a 22-9 run in that span as they hit 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.

From the chunk of play from the nine-minute mark of the second and just past the four-minute mark in the third, with Sabonis manning the center, the Kings scored 45 points, but allowed the Warriors to score 42, keeping Sac’s lead at 7 when Metu began his third quarter minutes.

In another seven or eight minute block of time, the Kings maintained their lead. It was 95-87 when Sabonis entered again, and after that, in the final eight and a half minutes, Golden State hit 5 of 7 from deep.

Metu came in for some defensive possessions with seconds remaining, but it was practically all Sabonis in that final chunk of time when the Warriors went on a 29-18 run against the Kings.

Overall, in non-Metu time, the Warriors shot 63.1% from the field and 44.4% from three land. With Metu out there, they shot 34.6% from the floor and just 18.8% (2 of 11) from deep.

While the Kings went to the bread and butter of either the Fox-Sabonis two-man game, or Monk-Sabonis, or even Davis-Sabonis with solid success, the Warriors constantly chose to target Sabonis for his shoddy switching ability.

Again, Sabonis wasn’t horrible; he did look better than the last time his team visited, but the numbers speak for themselves. The Warriors had more issue when Metu was playing the 5 because Sac could switch better, and when Sabonis was out there, they went at him.

And that lead to solid stints of offense for the Kings with Metu out there. Obviously, it’s hard to argue that Metu does anything close to what Sabonis does offensively, but good defense creates offense, especially in such a fast-paced game.

With Metu out there, Sacramento shot 45.8% from the field compared to 39.4% without him, and 63.6% (7 of 11) from three compared to 24.1% without him.

Metu is not going to tackle all the backup center minutes going forward—he couldn’t possibly—but it’s clear he’s the best option when facing an opponent that requires the ability for versatile switching.

Malik Monk leads Kings bench

Malik Monk had yet another phenomenal game off the bench for his team, scoring 24 points, grabbing 6 boards, dishing out 4 assists, and posting a steal.

Not only was he hitting three’s and finishing inside, he continued to be an excellent facilitator. This is especially true with his ability to get on the inside to dish it to the outside as he did for De’Aaron Fox in the first period.

And he continues to show that he is, in fact, not a liability on defense.

In all, his ability to score in bunches, help the ball movement, and contribute to the defense is showing exactly why he was such a vital free agent acquisition.

Along with Monk, Mitchell added 12 points, and Davis hit 3 trey’s for 9 points.

The rookie was quiet again

That’s like the fourth straight game where Keegan Murray wasn’t much of a factor, but there is something to latch onto as to why.

He finished the night with 6 points on 2 of 7 from the field and 1 of 4 from three, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. In Murray’s last four games, he’s shot 31.4% from the field and 20% from three-point range for an average of 7 points per game.

And defensively, there have been some lapses. For instance on Monday night, he overplayed—maybe guessed wrong—against Curry, allowing a wide open cut thinking he’d be defending a three.

Obviously, as has been said here and elsewhere before, this is no cause for major concern. He is, as his head coach said, a rookie after all.

And moreover, as James Ham noted ahead of the game on Monday, Murray has been dealing with some personal problems off of the court that are not helping him “be present” at the moment. 

No production from Harrison Barnes

It’s a contract year for Harrison Barnes and he generated a statistical line that can best be described as a chorus of crickets.

Barnes finished the game with 0 points on 0 of 4 from the field, 3 rebounds, a steal, and 2 turnovers.

Even just a week ago, it felt prudent to hold one’s breath on a seasoned veteran like Barnes, and while that may still be the case in the long run, his struggles are reaching a deafening peak. They just can’t be ignored.

Similar to the Holmes issue, no matter how much you’d maybe like to flip Barnes for something, his play is hindering any potential for a worthy deal.

Going forward

The Kings now return home for a one-game stop as the Cavaliers visit.

It will be a fun contest and another formidable opponent.

With Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, Cleveland had won their last eight games since their opening night loss to Toronto before their Monday night defeat at the hands of the Clippers. 

The Cavs are near the top of the league in points per game, second in three-point percentage, and second in defensive rating. Currently, they’re second in the Eastern Conference.

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Dan Smith
Dan Smith
2 months ago

Love these in depth recaps man! Some of the best Kings stuff I read, even moreso than King’s Herald or Sactown Royalty! Monte Should’ve been smart and moved HB and Richaun in the summer when they still had value. Even if it costed a couple 1sts and/or swaps. Coulda got a stopper like OG, now we will have to pay the price just to move them at all.