For the first time in 17 years, Sacramento has a winning team.
Domantas Sabonis had 24 points and 21 rebounds, and the Kings won their first season since 2005-06 by beating the Brooklyn Nets 101-96 Thursday night.
De’Aaron Fox added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Kings, who improved to 42-27 and finished second in the Western Conference. They hadn’t finished above .500 since 44-38 in 2005-06, the last of eight straight playoff appearances under Rick Adelman.
The Kings have had a losing record in the other 29 seasons since moving to Sacramento, but are in good shape to end what is currently the NBA’s longest postseason drought in their first season under Mike Brown.
“I think to be here for over four years now and to see the bottom – down – and to see the frustration of the fans and the people in the organization, I think it’s nice to be on the other side,” said the veteran said Harrison Barnes. “A lot of people don’t get a chance to stay in an organization long enough to see the good times and the bad, they only see the bad side. So I consider myself lucky to be a part of this moment.”
Sacramento Kings’ Domantas Sabonis drives to the basket during the game against the Nets
The Kings improved to 10-2 since the All-Star break, turning to their defense on a night when their normally powerful offense faltered as they went into the second night of a back-to-back game played. They won Wednesday in Chicago when Fox’s 3-pointer gave them a 117-114 win.
Sacramento held Brooklyn with no second chance points and just two fast break points with some defensive possessions that Brown said were among the best he’d seen all season.
“And to see that again in that situation, back-to-back, was really, really encouraging,” Brown said, “because we have to win games like this in playoff time.”
Yes, it’s safe to start talking playoffs again in the California capital.
Sabonis had 20 points at halftime and the Kings led by 17 points, but the Nets made it close.
Mikal Bridges scored 23 points for the Nets, who fell 1 1/2 games behind the New York Knicks for fifth place in the Eastern Conference and just 1 1/2 ahead of Miami in seventh place as they attempt to win the play- in tournament to avoid.
Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points and Nic Claxton had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Nets, back in Brooklyn after winning 3-2 on their road trip and hoping to capitalize on a home-heavy schedule the rest of the way. Nine of their remaining 12 games will be played at the Barclays Center.
It was tied at 41 with less than 3 1/2 minutes into the first half before Sabonis converted a three point game. That set up a 13-0 finish for the Kings, with Fox’s knight making it 54-41 at the break.
“They just played harder and made stops and they just scored, got to the line,” Bridges said. “But yeah, they just played harder than us.”
A three-point play from Barnes followed by a 3-point play from Fox took it to 60-43, but the Nets would bounce back later in the third with a 10-0 spurt to take it to six points trim. Sacramento went on to take an 82-71 advantage on fourth.
Sabonis (10) saves the ball from Brooklyn Nets’ Cameron Johnson (2) and Mikal Bridges
PACERS 139, BUCKS 123
Andrew Nembhard scored 24 points and Aaron Nesmith hit six 3-pointers to finish with 22 points as the Indiana Pacers rallied late and defeated the Central Division and Eastern Conference leaders Milwaukee Bucks 139-123 Thursday night.
Indiana (32-38) shot 22 for 46 from 3-pointers, including 13 of 19 in the second half, and shot 56.5% overall despite being without all-star point guard Tyrese Haliburton (ankle) as well as guards Kendall Brown played , Chris Duarte and Trevelin Queen.
The absences didn’t seem to matter as Indiana had seven players who scored in double figures. Buddy Hield scored 20 and TJ McConnell 19 while George HIll and Jordan Nwora added 15 and 12 respectively against their former team.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks by 25 points. Jrue Holiday added 19 and Khris Middleton finished with 16 for Milwaukee (50-20), who scored 52.8%, went 11 to 32 from beyond the arc and gave up 13 points after 12 turnovers.
Pacers Myles Turner (33) dunks over Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34)
PISTON 119, PISTON 100
Nikola Jokic scored 30 points and Denver defeated Detroit for a season-best four-game losing streak to win the Northwest Division.
Jokic, the two-time reigning NBA MVP, had three assists and three rebounds before his first try a few minutes into the game and finished the field with 10 rebounds and nine assists in 14th of 18.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points, Jamal Murray 19 and Aaron Gordon 15 for the Western Conference leading nuggets.
Rodney McGruder scored 20 goals for the Pistons, who have lost 12 of 13 games and have the NBA’s worst record. Detroit rookie Jalen Duren had 15 points and 13 assists while Jaden Ivey added 14 points and six assists.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots over Detroit Pistons center James Wiseman (13) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
RAPTORS 128, THUNDERS 111
Pascal Siakam had 25 points and 14 rebounds and Toronto extended its season-best home winning streak to six games with a win over Oklahoma City.
Jakob Pöltl had his third straight double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. Gary Trent Jr. added 23 points and Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes each had 19. OG Anunoby added 17 points.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 29 points and Jalen Williams had 15 for The Thunder, who had won three straight and six of seven. Oklahoma City is 13-21 on the road. Josh Giddey scored 13 points, Tre Mann and Isaiah Joe had 12 each, and Luguentz Dort scored 10 points for the Thunder.
Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets
SUNS 116, MAGIC 113
Josh Okogie made a green 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter and blocked Paolo Banchero’s attempt at a 3 in the dying seconds as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Orlando Magic 116-113 on Thursday night for a three-game losing streak .
Devin Booker led Phoenix with 19 points. Cameron Payne had 18 points, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul had 16 each, and Okogie finished with 15. The Suns made all 17 of their free throws in the game.
Markelle Fultz scored 25 points, Banchero 18 and Cole Anthony 17 for Orlando. Franz Wagner had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Wendell Carter Jr. also had 16 points.
Josh Okogie #2 celebrates with Damion Lee #10 of the Phoenix Suns after defeating the Magic
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/nba/article-11871057/NBA-Roundup-Kings-clinch-winning-season-2006-06.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 NBA Roundup: Kings Clinch win first season since 2006-06