Winning an NBA game is never easy, especially when your All-Star point guard is sitting on the bench with an ankle sprain. The Rockets loaded up on veterans over the summer and look much less like an AAU team, but in no world should they have gotten such an easy win over the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings were the highest-scoring offense last season, playing with an electric, fast-paced style, and they still have the same personnel. Not much has changed. They should have been the better team. Instead, they put together a depressing slugfest.
Unable to shoot or keep any Rockets player out of the paint, the Kings looked absolutely disjointed and slow. The only spark of positive energy came from the bench unit of Malik Monk, JaVale McGee, Chris Duarte, and Colby Jones.
Harrison Barnes had a quiet 13 points, and Davion Mitchell finished with an okay 7 points and 5 assists but the starters just didn’t bring the right energy. That is a problem. We all know that De’Aaron Fox is the Kings’ most important player, but the team can’t fall apart without him.
Someone in. The starting lineup should’ve felt responsible for picking up the slack instead of just waiting for Malik Monk to swoop in off the bench and save them. Monk finished the game with 18 points on good shooting, 3 rebounds, 7 big assists, and 1 block.
10 of those points came in the fourth quarter. He tried his best to keep the team in the game, but it was not enough. So, let’s look at four players who were massive disappointments in this sad loss.
4. Kevin Huerter
It feels redundant to talk about Kevin Huerter’s struggles yet again but he was not good last night. Shooting 2-8 from the field and 0-3 from long range, he finished the game with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in just under 16 minutes.
He played by far the fewest minutes of all starters, the time going to Monk, Duarte, and Jones instead, and rightfully so. Huerter has been struggling with his shot since March, and his defensive limitations have been under a microscope this season.
His coach and teammates have voiced their optimism that he will figure it out soon, however. In the Kings’ last overtime win against the Lakers, he showed signs of the Kevin Huerter we got so used to last season, sparking the hope that they are right.
Last night, that was all gone. The Kings’ needed their third-leading scorer from last season to step up in Fox’s absence and make some shots but he didn’t deliver. Duarte and Jones, however, made their cases for getting more minutes, and Huerter is definitely not out of the danger zone yet when it comes to his playing time.