Kings win 3rd straight, defeating Bulls 110-101
By Ray LeBov, Basketball Intelligence
Don't get it twisted. Credit for the win over the Bulls goes to the effort of the players. Thinking about tonight's game, though, I can't help observing that the result reflects the outstanding work that Monte McNair, Wes Wilcox and their staff have done putting this team together. The 110-101 win over the Bulls gives the team a best since 2004-05 22 game season start 13-9 record despite having lost the season's 1st four games.
The Draft: Monte and Wes have nailed it 3 straight years: Haliburton, Mitchell, Murray.
Trades: True, giving up a likely future superstar in Haliburton was a tall price to pay , but Tyrese & Fox were not a great fit and there was no other way to get a player of Sabonis' all-star caliber and all-around value. Acquiring Huerter for Harkless and Holiday was a steal.
Free Agency: Signing Malik Monk was another outstanding acquisition.
Coach: Obviously the right choice. Major credit for signing him and for dodging a bullet in the process. His well-deserved reputation is on defense but he has played a major role in the team's major offensive improvement. The defense has historically been so atrocious that equivalent improvement at that end necessarily is taking longer.
Taken together, these moves reflect implementation of inspired front office vision and have resulted in a vastly improved team that typically plays the right way most of the time.
But let's give appropriate credit to the players, who, as we mentioned, Coach Brown has playing the right way: sharing the ball (30 assists on 40 made field goals tonight), showing outstanding effort at both ends,
Scoring balance: 7 players scored in double figures, led by Malik Monk who contributed 20 points in 24 minutes off the bench, by himself matching the combined point total of all of the Bulls' substitutes
Rebounding: The Kings had a 46-39 advantage on the boards, led by Sabonis with 17. That was Domas' 6th double figure board game in the Kings' last 8, just missing with 9 in one other game and being held to 5 due to limited minutes. due to foul trouble in the other. The Kings' center once again contributed in other ways as well: his ability to bring the ball up the floor as well as to serve as the hub of the team's half-court offense.
Coach Brown's post-game remarks gave an apt description of the game which the Kings won despite shooting just 30% from three-point range and committing 18 turnovers (Despite committing 2 more turnovers than their opponent, because of their as usual effective transition game the Kings outscored the Bulls 23-14 in fast break points.): “It was really, really ugly. It was a grimy, grind-it-out type of game. (The players are connected. They’re trying to play for each other, and when you get that with a talented group (featuring) two All-Stars in Fox and Domas and a lot of guys who can step up, including Malik Monk, you get some nice wins.”
While the Kings won't get credit for a "clutch win" per the league's 5 point spread with 5 minutes or fewer remaining definition, they did close the game on a 22-10 run after the Bulls had cut a 15-point halftime lead to 88-87. 11 points of that deficit reduction resulted from questionable defensive play by the Kings in the third quarter but they did bounce back with renewed effort as needed in the game's final minutes.
Next up: A six-game in 12 days road trip featuring matches with Milwaukee, Cleveland and Philadelphia.