Sabonis proves worthy of All-NBA nod in Kings' win over Nets


Domantas Sabonis continues to make his case for an All-NBA nod at the end of the 2022-23 NBA season. 

The Kings' All-Star center was instrumental in Sacramento's 101-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night at Barclays Center. Sabonis posted, perhaps, his most well-rounded game this season, scoring 24 points, grabbing 21 rebounds, dishing out five assists, and blocking four shots. 

"I don't know if he knows another way," Kings coach Mike Brown said postgame of Sabonis' outing. "I think he's got one gear it's the highest gear. 

"He sets the tone for us with his physicality, and he was great tonight because we stay on him about it, but he's got to continue to play as hard as he does, as physical as he does, but do it while showing his hands so that he doesn't get in early foul trouble."

This performance came a day after the Kings' thrilling victory over the Bulls on Wednesday in which Sabonis posted his 11th triple-double of the season with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. 

Sabonis was his usual self on the offensive end, scoring on Nets center Nic Claxton and whoever was unlucky enough to challenge the 7-foot-1 center.

More importantly, the 26-year-old showed he was a capable rim defender when needed. Sacramento's center had four blocks, marking the third time in his career that he's blocked four shots. 

The other two times occurred in 2021 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls when Sabonis still played for the Indiana Pacers. 

With his double-double against the Nets, Sabonis now has 56 on the season, five more than Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić, who is in second with 50. Sabonis also leapfrogged Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for most 20/20 games this season with four. 

Although Sabonis was the star in Sacramento's win over Brooklyn, the Kings, as a whole, hunkered down on defense against a Nets team looking for their new identity after trading away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

The Kings held the Nets to 96 points on 41.3 percent shooting and 35.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. For context, the last time Sacramento held an opponent under 100 points was on Dec. 9, 2022, when the Kings defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-95. 

"I tell you what, the defensive side of the floor was fun to watch," Brown said. "Kessler [Edwards] was great, Domas with 14 defensive rebounds.

"He was obviously amazing, another double-double for him"

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As the Kings continue to push toward the playoffs as a top-4 seed in the Western Conference, defense certainly will be a key to Sacramento's chances for a long playoff run

And it all starts with Sabonis, as he continues his journey to be the Kings' next All-NBA center.

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