By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Despite the absence of center Domantas Sabonis, the Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers 116-111 at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday to move into third in the Western Conference standings.
The victory was the fifth straight for the Kings (25-18), their second such streak this season. The last time the franchise won five in a row multiple times in a season was 2004. De’Aaron Fox had 31 points, three rebounds, and three assists while Harrison Barnes added 20 points, six rebounds, and two assists in the victory against the Lakers (20-25).
Sabonis was sidelined with a non-COVID illness. Little-used backup center Richuan Holmes started in Sabonis’ place and finished with a much-needed 16 points and 11 rebounds. Holmes made two key free throws to extend the Kings’ lead after the Lakers’ Kendrick Nunn made a three-point basket with seven seconds left to get Los Angeles within one point.
“We know guys are going to be injured or be sick or whatever it may be [but] having that ‘next man up’ mentality has been huge for us,” said Kings Coach Mike Brown. “[Richaun] was great but more importantly he had about four or five deflections. And his 11 rebounds? We needed every rebound we could get.”
Kevin Huerter had 18 points, three rebounds, eight assists and two steals for the Kings, who are 11-9 on the road. Rookie Keegan Murray had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sacramento won the season series against the Lakers 3-1.
The current winning streak solidifies the Kings’ quest to end one of the longest postseason droughts in professional sports history. The team made the NBA playoffs in 2005-06, when it finished eighth in the Western Conference at 44-38 and lost to the San Antonio Spurs in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
The Kings, winners of seven of their last 10 games, won their previous road game 132-119 against San Antonio on Jan. 15. Denver (32-13) and Memphis Grizzlies (31-13) are ahead of the Kings in the West.
The Kings can extend their winning streak against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, Jan. 20, before facing the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, Jan. 21, both at Golden 1 Center.