Kings set franchise record with 5 wins on 7-game road trip: 5 observations


After nearly two weeks on the road, the Sacramento Kings return to California’s capital with a new record. Their five wins over the seven-game trip, the longest of the season, are the most on a single road trip in franchise history.

The infamous purple beam illuminated the often rainy and extremely windy Sacramento sky all but twice in the Kings’ absence from the city. They ended the trip with a 136-110 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, somewhat putting a damper on a successful stint away from Golden 1 Center, but there’s plenty to unpack from their expedition.

Without further adieu, let’s get into it:

Domantas Sabonis’ dominance continues

I’m not sure there’s anything more Sabonis could’ve done to earn a bid to this year’s All-Star Game. He’s tied with Finals MVP Nikola Jokić for the most triple-doubles in the NBA this season, notching his 15th (12 points, 19 rebounds, 15 assists) in the third quarter of Sacramento’s loss Monday and is in the midst of a streak of 32 consecutive double-doubles.

“Domas is, I think, the 14th player in the history of the game that has recorded 30-straight double-doubles,” coach Mike Brown said after the Kings’ 133-122 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday. “Fourteenth player in the history of the game — not this season — in the history of the game, that recorded 30-straight double-doubles. Let’s make sure we got that clear.”

It seems like every other game now, he’s doing something to put himself in a conversation with legends of NBA lore.

Sabonis remains the hub of the Kings’ offense, averaging 17.9 points, 15.1 rebounds and 9.6 assists over his last seven games. He had three triple-doubles, one 20-point, 26-rebound outing, and did it all on 68.8/66.6/83.3 percent shooting splits.

The offseason work he put in with assistant coach Doug Christie and the slight paranoia he possesses is continuing to show. It’s become a given that night in and night out, Sabonis won’t be outworked.

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Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen did outscore him Monday night, posting 19 points, but Sabonis finished with more assists than Allen and Evan Mobley combined (10). Sabonis was two rebounds off from matching Allen and Mobley’s rebound total (21) as well. While Sabonis wasn’t able to translate his latest triple-double into a win, he’s usually the most multifaceted big on the hardwood in terms of his skill set.

With a tough five-game stretch remaining before the All-Star break, including two against Jokić and the Denver Nuggets, make sure to keep an eye on Sabonis’ production.

There’s something Fox loves about playing in Chicago. In last season’s trip to the Windy City, he sunk a game-winning 3 and finished with 32 points on 70.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from long range.

This time around, in the Kings’ 123-115 win over the Chicago Bulls, Fox dropped 41 points, five steals, four assists and four rebounds on 54.2 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from distance. All with his son Reign, who was celebrating his first birthday, and wife, Recee, sitting courtside.

“It was definitely great to be able to do that for his first birthday,” Fox said after the win.

Fox, arguably another All-Star snub, tied his career high with six steals the night before in Indiana. Though he’s on pace for his highest-scoring (27.3 points) and most efficient season from 3-point range (37.8 percent on 7.9 attempts), Fox is coming off his lowest-scoring month this season. January saw Fox average 22.5 points, but he closed the month looking more like the best version of himself.

He had 29 and 34 points, respectively, in the first two wins over the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks. Fox is starting February in an impressive fashion, posting 33 points, 5.5 steals, 3.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds on 37.5 percent from distance through three games.

Fox and Sabonis carry the brunt of the load offensively and are without question the two faces of this franchise. Dips in production for them could be considered impressive outings for others around the league. But Sacramento goes as they go, and when they’re both performing at the level they did on this road trip, the Kings are a force.

Let’s cut to the chase. Barnes has gotten his groove back. He began by hanging a career-high 39 points on his former team in San Francisco in a 134-133 win over the Warriors.

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Barnes finished the 5-2 voyage averaging 19.3 points on 42.1 percent from 3-point range.

He looks far more engaged offensively and took at least 10 shot attempts in each of those seven games. Barnes also averaged eight 3s during that stretch. The veteran had more games with at least 20 points (four) on the trip than he did the rest of the season combined (three).

There aren’t a ton of shots to go around on a team with as much scoring as Fox, Keegan Murray and Sabonis provide, but Barnes is forcing his way into getting more looks — in the best way possible. When Sacramento can count on Barnes for roughly 20 points a night, it’s a completely different team and far more dangerous.

He keeps opposing teams honest with their defensive schemes and alleviates pressure off the aforementioned three main guys. With the league’s trade deadline fast approaching Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, Barnes has played his best basketball of the season.

Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge.

Bench mob’s steady production

The bench was good for 29 points per game during this stretch. The Malik Monk-led second unit was rather reliable, providing a spark offensively but also allowing the starters to get rest without much drop-off. The bench had its most productive outing in the win over the Bulls, when those players combined for 44 points, 14 assists and 13 boards.

“The first group started off great, with a lot of energy,” Monk said after Saturday’s win. “Then the second unit just came in and picked it back up. Whenever I’m attacking first and making plays second, everything opens up for all of us. So I’ve got to continue to do that. We’re used to playing ball, man. We’re used to playing ball. That’s it.”

Beginning with Monk, he was quiet on the front end of the trip, scoring no more than 10 points through the first four games. He didn’t shoot particularly well through those first four games, either. He failed to shoot above 40 percent, made just one of his 12 attempts from beyond the arc and as a result, didn’t see more than 20 minutes. Once the team got to Indiana, though, he looked like a different player.

He averaged 22.5 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds on 57.1 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3 on 30.5 minutes over the final three games.

Monk’s ability to create for himself and others on the second unit and as a closer down the stretch offers a chance for Fox to play off the ball periodically. Monk is as versatile a threat off the bench as you’ll find in the league.

Trey Lyles joined Monk in his effort to keep the bench production up, continuing to be the ultimate floor spacer when Brown decides to go to smaller lineups. He creates mismatches for opposing centers and often puts them in uncomfortable situations by forcing them to close out to the 3-point line. Lyles knocked down at least two 3-pointers in four of the Kings’ seven games during this stretch.

Kessler Edwards’ strong showing

If you’re one to stat sheet watch rather than watching the game, I’d understand the urge to scratch your head. Edwards accounted for a total of 5 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks during these seven games. The 23-year-old even logged a couple of DNPs.

But the fourth-year man provided Brown with added wing depth and did well on his defensive assignments, especially in the win over the Pacers.

Notice his ability to switch from All-Star Pascal Siakam to Bennedict Mathurin. It doesn’t stop there. Mathurin baits Edwards into biting on a pump fake, but Edwards recovers. His length and quickness grant him the ability to meet Mathurin at the summit and block his shot.

It’d be challenging to find a singular clip from this trip that encapsulates Edwards’ efforts better than the one above.

This is just a glimpse of who Edwards can develop into with due time and belief from the coaching staff. It seems he’s continuing to gain trust with each passing game. Brown’s rotations can fluctuate, so there’s no guarantee Edwards will remain in the lineup. But he has managed to make the most of his end-of-quarter minutes and is seemingly in the process of graduating out of that role and into a more consistent one.

It remains to be seen whether Edwards can continue to carve out a role. Plus, there are plenty of rotational changes that could be made, but Edwards had a strong showing on this trip with the minutes he was allotted.

Looking ahead

The Kings are 29-20 and sit fifth in the Western Conference. Sacramento returns home for two games against the Detroit Pistons and Nuggets before hitting the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns and Nuggets once more.

This final stretch before the All-Star break can prove to be a litmus test of exactly where the Kings stand amongst the rest of the league.

(Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today)





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