Kings clinch Pacific Division title for first time in 20 years


Light. The. Beam.

The Kings' incredible 2022-23 NBA season reached another milestone when they clinched their first Pacific Division title in 20 years following their blowout 121-103 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night at Smoothie King Center.

The win over the Pelicans also means the Kings (48-31) have secured at least a top-three seed in the Western Conference playoffs

The Kings had to wait a few extra days to celebrate the division title after losing to the San Antonio Spurs at home Sunday.

Sacramento already had clinched its first NBA playoff berth since 2006 earlier in the monthand the Beam Team's latest win brought the Pacific crown back to the 916 for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Two decades ago, the division champs made a run to the 2003 Western Conference semifinals before falling to the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.

This Kings team has the 2023 NBA Finals on its mind, but certainly has some stiff competition in the West standing in its way as the postseason approaches. But that's nothing new for Sacramento, which played in arguably the conference's toughest division this season and still came out on top.

Of the Pacific's five teams, four (Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors) are slated for a playoff berth. The Los Angeles Lakers finished in the top 10 teams, too.

And even though Sacramento ended up atop the division, it defied the odds to get there. Back in January, the Warriors were favored to win the division, followed by the Suns and Clippers. The Kings and Lakers rounded out the bottom two, respectively.

It's safe to say those who bet on the Kings earlier in the season -- or even before it began -- are cashing in big. And so are the Kings, who have enjoyed one of the best turnarounds in sports history this season.

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First 40-win season since 2005-06. A 16-season playoff drought, snapped. The Pacific Division title. Could the Larry O'Brien trophy be next?

As this season has made abundantly clear, never count the Kings out.

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