Once again, the Kings looked raggedy to start a game.
This time, they fought back and, by the end of the night, it was the Oklahoma City Thunder that looked lost.
The Kings ended a seven-game losing streak with a 94-86 victory Tuesday night, overcoming a 17-point first-quarter deficit to send the Thunder (4-6) to a third consecutive loss. It was Sacramento’s first home win of the season and a season low for points allowed.
The bench had a lot to do with the win. The Kings’ first 29 points Tuesday were scored by reserves, an NBA record. The previous record was 23 by Milwaukee’s bench at Orlando on April 5, 2011.
The bench helped the Kings (2-8) overcome a 10-point first quarter, their lowest-scoring quarter of the season.
Buddy Hield, who didn’t start, led the Kings with 21 points. Hield and reserves De’Aaron Fox (10 points, eight assists) and Justin Jackson (16 points) were key in the comeback. Zach Randolph was the only Kings starter to score in double figures with 18 points, all in the second half.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 20 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Carmelo Anthony scored 16 and Paul George had 12 points.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Mental toughness was at its best
This was a game where the Kings could expect not to get the benefit of the doubt from the officials. Oklahoma City has three stars who are likely to draw fouls. The Kings haven’t forced many foul calls this season.
Even though there were plenty of moments when the Kings had reasons to gripe about the officiating, they played through it.
That’s the kind of mental toughness this team needs to start showing more of because it can’t look to be bailed out by a whistle.
More of Jackson might be a good thing
In consecutive games, Joerger has turned to Jackson off the bench in the first quarter and the rookie has provided a spark. In both cases, it was to with a team playing small and it allowed Randolph to move to center.
Randolph has no problem playing center and with the small lineup, he has more room to operate. It also keeps him from being put in bad positions on defense. Randolph opened the game defending Carmelo Anthony, which is a mismatch.
So let Jackson chase those stretch power forwards and give Randolph the middle of the floor when possible.
Fox got the message
After Saturday’s loss at Detroit, Joerger said he needed Fox to be aggressive from the start. The rookie responded by attacking and tallying six assists in 10 first-half minutes.
Even if Fox isn’t scoring, the Kings need him forcing the issue like he did Tuesday. Fox’s aggression helped spark the Kings after a miserable start.