These are heady times for the Sacramento Kings, who are 10 games over .500 for the first time since finishing 50-32 in 2004-05.
The Kings will look to extend their winning streak to four games on Tuesday when they conclude a three-game road trip against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The teams are meeting for the second time in three days after Sacramento defeated the Thunder 124-115 on Sunday night.
De’Aaron Fox had 33 points and eight assists to lead the Kings, who lead the league in scoring at 120.7 points per game. Keegan Murray scored 20 points in the victory, while Domantas Sabonis added 14 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
Two days after outlasting the Los Angeles Clippers 176-175 in double overtime, the Kings put together another strong offensive effort against Oklahoma City.
Sacramento jumped to a 13-point lead against the Thunder and never trailed in the contest. The Kings shot 52.9 percent from the field and 18 of 43 (41.9 percent) from 3-point range.
“The effort it takes to defend them for 48 minutes is substantial because they play with great pace, they have good creators and they’ve got shooting everywhere,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “So it’s not easy to do. But if you want to win the game, that’s what you have to do.”
Fox is averaging 34.4 points, 6.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals over the last seven games while shooting 57.9 percent from the field.
Sacramento, which currently holds the third seed in the Western Conference, believes they have the staying power to snap the longest playoff drought in NBA history after 16 consecutive losing seasons.
“I think all of the guys in the locker room know we’re a really good team,” Murray said. “We’re just trying to prove it to everyone else around the league.”
The Kings are looking for a three-game series sweep of Oklahoma City, which could be without All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the third straight game.
Gilgeous-Alexander, who ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 31.0 points per game, is listed as day-to-day due to an abdominal strain and right ankle soreness.
With Gilgeous-Alexander sidelined, third-year guard Isaiah Joe has averaged 26 points in the past two games. Joe is shooting 10 of 20 (50 percent) from 3-point range over that stretch while also contributing on the defensive end.
“As I’ve said 100 times, he’s a complete player,” Daigneault said. “You can’t just be one-dimensional and play in the NBA, especially at his size. He’s a feisty competitor, he knows the schemes. That’s what allows you to keep him on the court.”
Oklahoma City is riding a three-game losing streak, but the young team can point to a number of bright spots. Second-year guard Josh Giddey had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Sunday’s loss.
Even with Gilgeous-Alexander on the bench, the Thunder were able to stay within striking distance of Sacramento on Sunday. The team’s consistent effort made an impression on Kings coach Mike Brown.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re down 15, down 20, up 20, they’re playing the same way,” Brown said. “They’re coming at you on both ends of the floor with physicality, that if you don’t match it, you’re going to get run out of the gym.”
–Field Level Media