The Kings were presented a golden opportunity to take advantage of a vulnerable foe that has had their number for years.
Sacramento (16-9) faced off against a Boston Celtics (20-6) team on the second night of a back-to-back without superstar Jayson Tatum on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. The Kings had the perfect opportunity to steal a win from a team that has haunted them in recent years but failed miserably in a 144-119 loss.
The Celtics won each of the four previous matchups against the Kings before Wednesday's game, including a 128-75 thumping on Jan 25, 2022 that Kings fans remember all too well.
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Sacramento trailed by as many as 50 points in that game and while Wednesday's shellacking wasn't nearly as bad, it left a similar sour taste in the Kings' mouths. Sacramento is 4-0 this season against NBA heavyweights like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder, and at least for the first half, it looked like the Kings were gearing up to add Boston to their impressive mantle. Then, disaster struck.
"That was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking," coach Mike Brown told reporters postgame. "Give the Celtics a lot of credit, especially coming off a back-to-back.
"I thought it was way too easy for Boston the whole night. Sooner or later somebody's got to get tired of it and say something and look guys in the eyes and try to hold them accountable. That's what I tried to do and it didn't work."
De'Aaron Fox, on his 26th birthday, dropped 26 first-half points, tying a career-high with six 3-pointers and appeared headed for potentially his best game ever.
The Celtics, however, had an answer for Fox in the second half, limiting him to just three points in the final two frames.
"They were just physical," Brown said of the Celtics' adjustment on Fox. "They got back in transition, they loaded the paint, they were very physical. The start of the game, it was the track meet. Nobody was really playing defense then you could just see they cranked it up."
The Celtics had no issues generating offense without Tatum. All five of Jaylen Brown (28), Derrick White (28), Kristaps Porzingis (24), Jrue Holiday (21) and Payton Pritchard (20) scored 20-plus points in the game.
The Kings got beat and beat badly, a common theme this season for Sacramento, who has lost by 20 or more points four times already.
After an off day on Thursday, the Kings face another tough test against the Phoenix Suns on Friday at Golden 1 Center as they look to right the ship after perhaps their worst loss of the season.