DISCLAIMER: This preview is brought to you in part by with our friends, The Kings Herald (For those not in the know, they were squeezed out of their previous SBNation home). Will Griffith provides excellent content for the Sacramento Kings, hosts a podcast with former Kings head coach/GM/Broadcaster Jerry Reynolds, and is my best friend who constantly motivates me in life. I assure you, he will be one of the best follows for you on social media (@WillofThaPeople)! Will is going to toss me an assist by helping with the coverage of these trio of April Kings-Timberwolves games. He’ll provide insight from Sacramento’s perspective with game 1 being our collective pessimistic angles at our franchises, game 2 as optimistic tilts, and game 3 as our most realistic expectations moving forward. Enjoy!
It was the Fall of 2024 and I was standing outside of the Golden 1 Center, when the screen outside of an empty arena suddenly flickered on. It was a game day, I think, and by that point, I hadn’t seen a game in three years. By the looks of the empty DOCO courtyard, no one else in Sacramento had either. Kayte Hunter stood alongside King’s head coach, Becky Hammon, rumored to be in the hot seat after just two seasons with the Kings. No sound came from the video board and yet the graphics on that screen, the familiar look of the court below left me wistful.
I have no idea to this day what those two basketball ladies were talking about. Truth is, I don’t wanna know. I would like to think they were singing about an incoming rookie with a jumper so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words and makes your heart ache because of it. I imagined a boy soaring higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. Like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little city and made those ping pong balls dissolve away. For the briefest moment the last fan in Sacramento felt free.
Leo’s going to have to remind me more than once that I’m supposed to write a recap that features only the most positive aspects of this Sacramento Kings squad.
A Recap - of Sorts
This first half of the first quarter was the typical Kings-Wolves affair, save for a moment of the future yet to come - Anthony Edwards hitting his third three of the first quarter answered by Tyrese Haliburton answering with his own. I love both of these rookies in their own ways. Edwards is a loveable open book, already one of the most entertaining players in the league. He’s a walking hand grenade on the court and his production on the court since the All-Star Break proves it. Haliburton, is a heady, budding efficiency lord, the perfect running mate for De’Aaron Fox and a surgeon’s knife, getting where he needs and the ball where it needs to be, whenever he wants.
They’re two exciting young players and my continued hope for watching Wolves-Kings for the next decade or so.
As I typed this paragraph the Kings and Wolves have combined for 16-27 from three and 82 points in the quarter. I have no idea what the hell is happening, but it’s better than the usual fair.
I know D-Lo has his faults and sure, he might not be a perfect match for this Timberwolves squad going forward, but as a Kings fan who has repeatedly seen Russell absolutely SCORCH this team - I hate and fear his power. The ice in his veins is legitimately always frostier when dealing with the Kings and his 26 points in the first half prove it. Halves like this are a sore spot for me when it comes to writing - All Star Game level defense mixed with hot shooting nights. It isn’t bad basketball, it’s just bad teams attempting to imitate good basketball. I’d rather a score of 74 apiece to a score that’s 42 apiece at the half, but an accurate recap would just say “Jumpshot. Jumpshot.” again and again and again and again. KAT does what KAT does, D-Lo shooting everything, Anthony Edwards showing that promise early. This whole thing is going to come down to the first team that decides to play a quarter of defense winning this game. I know Leo said to keep this positive but seeing Moe Harkless as the leading scorer of this game is grinding my molars into lessers.
*Fast Forward to the end of the game*
- I love that Moe Harkless gets starts over Tyrese Haliburton and that he was our leading scorer in 28 minutes of play!
- I love seeing Harrison Barnes play nearly 40 goddamn minutes!
- Love that Luke Walton’s out here trying to make a play-in game that his team sits SIX GAMES out of with fourteen games left.
- I love that someday the Sun will consume the Earth and nothing anyone has ever done will be remembered!
Okay, okay I can calm down a bit and get back on track.
Random Shit I’m Excited For When It Comes to Sac and Minnesota:
- Anthony Edwards in a dunk contest. Anthony Edwards meeting A-Rod.
- Skeletor finally riding off into the sunset.
- KAT in a playoff atmosphere and a national spotlight.
- Minny (Leo’s note: Sorry guys, he doesn’t know) keeping the pick, drafting Cade Cunningham and the Wolves becoming the most fun team in the league.
- You all losing David Vanterpool because the Kings hired him as their new head coach.
- Josh Okogie learning how to shoot.
- Tyrese Haliburton gaining 15 pounds of pure muscle.
- De’Aaron Fox deciding that 70% from the free throw line isn’t acceptable.
- The feeling in the air was a definitely strange today. Many of us, the players included, seemed to be in a bit of a daze stemming from the Derek Chauvin verdict. Obviously it was good news, but also a stark reminder of just how rare it is to get a W in an unjust system. Players were asked about their experiences today, post-game:
Karl-Anthony Towns on his reaction to the verdict today:— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) April 21, 2021
"I was watching CNN on my phone & I was sweating. I had to take a shower afterwards because I sweated so much, I was so worried."https://t.co/Ya5KeIUSmX
Josh Okogie on Derek Chauvin verdict: "For me, a lot of ppl call it justice, but for me it's just accountability. If justice was really served, George Floyd will still be here. We can't control that, but what we could control was what happened in court."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) April 21, 2021
D'Lo on his reaction to Chauvin verdict: "I think it's great for the city. To open up the floor to you guys again. You know what I'm gonna say, hear what you guys have to say. You guys live there, I just work there."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) April 21, 2021
Asking everyone on the call for their opinion.
"None of that changes my viewpoint on MIN. MIN is great. Fans are great & welcomed me w/ open arms. I don't take any of what's happened into consideration. But because of COVID I still haven't been able to get out and explore the city, so I'm looking forward to that this summer."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) April 21, 2021
bigger than basketball. pic.twitter.com/U54za4falI— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 21, 2021
- As far as basketball goes, it was hard to truly gauge the performance of any player in this game, on both sides of the floor. The defense was so bad, yet the horrid offensive execution also stood out somehow. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter (stop me if you’ve heard this one) that the Wolves really put the brakes on the Kings. Minnesota Kings of the 4th!!!
Okogie: "We were trading buckets the whole game. Coach said 1st team that plays defense will win the game and we held them to 17 pts in the 4th qtr."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) April 21, 2021
- When looking back at the game and brushing off the quality of opponent, there were certainly a few players who stood out to me. The D’Lo stans continue to come after me in the internet cesspool called Twitter, but I will absolutely compliment D’Angelo Russell on his performance tonight. It’s fairly clear to all of us what he’s good and not so good at. We got to see that first-hand as his scorching 1st half shooting kept the Wolves afloat during the early Kings 3-point explosion. Sure, he poured in 26 points on 11 FGA in less than 15 minutes, but what impressed me most was the 2nd half. It appeared he tweaked his ankle playing defense (!) which may have led to him taking just 2 shot attempts in the 2nd half, but he dished out 4 assists in the process. Additionally, once he was subbed out for Ricky to close the final 9 mins of the game, he was perhaps the most vocal person on the bench cheering the team on. That’s leadership and no matter what his role is moving forward, I hope we continue to see this energy from him.
TWENTY-THREE POINTS.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 21, 2021
THIRTEEN MINUTES. pic.twitter.com/WCWrbFsYFS
I don't think the -1 is a representation of D'Lo's impact, I'll say that. We could've been dead in the water, down 20 in the 1st half w/o him.— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) April 21, 2021
However Ricky's +11 was well deserved. He had a few careless mistakes out there, but his poise in the 4th getting KAT involved was huge. https://t.co/9uu3ZkbX4A
- Jaden McDaniels was a consistent bright spot out there. His box score numbers (13 & 6, .750 FG%) don’t reflect just how great he was on defense. He routinely locked up De’Aaron Fox tonight to where the Kings were making it a point to get someone else switched onto him. Unfortunately for Fox, Josh Okogie was often the one awaiting him. Credit where credit is due as well, the entire team did a great job containing Fox by throwing a myriad of bodies and limbs in his face.
The Nigerian Clampgawd on one end.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 21, 2021
McSlamiels on the other. pic.twitter.com/jHSoNVWaXG
Josh is PLUS-21 tonight.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 21, 2021
Here's a big reason why. pic.twitter.com/GBGURhX4nb
- I’m truly sad about what’s going on with the Sacramento Kings right now. I knew about it, but finally got to see with my own 2 eyes just how much in limbo their team is right now. They have
perhapsthe worst coach in the league, are relying on vets to play big minutes/usage, and aren’t close to competing for a play-in spot while equally far away from a top 10 pick in the lotto.
Watching Moe Harkless lead the Kings here is really like watching Blake Griffin lead the Pistons— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) April 21, 2021
Is it bad that I’m not even that sad about losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves since at least the Kings have won one game in recent memory?— Mirann Lolani Tsumura (@MirannLolani) April 21, 2021
- Ant continues to be the human highlight reel, both on and off the court as Will mentioned earlier. His long ball was dropping early (16 in the 1st quarter), but it didn’t stop him from attacking the rim late in the game. He had a great stretch midway through the 4th where he scored 5 straight to retake the lead and put the Wolves up for good. He’s now 2-0 versus his fellow ROY contender, Tyrese Haliburton, and has thoroughly outplayed him. If I may steal a line from our very own Poop Hat, these highlights may make you extremely horny:
SIXTEEN IN THE FIRST FRAME FOR ANT pic.twitter.com/CMi69npzKW— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 21, 2021
- As usual, everything always come back to KAT. After scoring just 5 points in the 1st half, Towns turned up for 21 points in the 2nd half including 10 in the 4th to help seal things. The Kings had 0 answer for him and Luke Walton, for some reason, deployed a Moe Harkless and Harrison Barnes tandem in the final period when the Wolves truly pulled away. Sacramento kept doubling and KAT kept making the right play. He also had a half-court 3 at the end of the 1st half which was just a few tenths of a second late.
"Obviously in the 2nd half, things changed and required me to be more aggressive offensively. We have such a plethora of great PGs, not just D'Lo and Ricky Rubio, but JMac is one of the most trusted guys on our team."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) April 21, 2021
extend the range, extend the lead pic.twitter.com/3e0uVD2R4o— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 21, 2021
- Naz Reid is also dope.
We run it back tomorrow. Same time, same place.