The offense was hard to come by at times, but the Kings manufactured points when it mattered to hold off the Dallas Mavericks 93-88 Friday night at American Airlines Center.
George Hill led the Kings with 21 points. Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Buddy Hield added 13 points. De’Aaron Fox had nine points and 10 assists.
If the Kings can continue to play defense like they have in the first two games (Dallas shot just 41.3 percent), they’ll give themselves a chance a lot of nights. Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. This is why the Kings were smart to sign George Hill
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Rookie De’Aaron Fox showed flashes of his brilliance again, but late in the game it was Hill who directed things and hit a clutch jumper with 16.4 seconds to play to give the Kings a 91-86 lead.
Young teams have to learn how to win, and without Hill, Sacramento might have been forced to rely on two rookie point guards to figure it out.
2. The defensive identity is ahead of the offense
This is one area that’s taking shape early in the season. The Kings aren’t the biggest team on the perimeter, but they bring a fight. Garrett Temple at 6-foot-6 is the team’s best wing defender, and centers Wille Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos have shown they can be anchors around the rim.
The Kings will need to rely on their defense to keep them in games. Multiple players showed bright spots on offense, but that remains a work in progress.
3. These are the games the Kings have to win
Part of the learning process is winning games you “should” win. There won’t be many nights when the Kings will be considered the better team before tipoff, but this was one of them, and the Kings delivered in Dallas.