Kings’ shorthanded bench survives first big test against Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers v Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Clippers v Sacramento Kings / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Ever since Malik Monk suffered an MCL injury against the Dallas Mavericks, we have been talking about the Kings’ dwindling playoff chances. With Monk and Kevin Huerter both out for the rest of the season, the Kings are missing a lot of offense as well as that special punch off the bench.

That has not changed, and the schedule will only get tougher from here on out. Sacramento has the fourth-hardest remaining schedule across the league, starting with yesterday’s game against the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard didn’t play, but even without him, the Clippers still have James Harden, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Norman Powell, who can all put up huge numbers. 

They are one of the top teams in the West for a reason and usually offer a matchup nightmare for Sacramento. This is the type of game you would love to have Malik Monk available for. Others picked up the slack, however, and we finally have something positive to talk about amid all the struggles. 

The Kings’ bench played a great game against the Clippers

Earlier this season most of us were incredibly down on Davion Mitchell. He struggled offensively, lost his spot in the rotation to Keon Ellis, and just seemed out of rhythm with the rest of the team. Yesterday, while Monk was watching from the bench, Mitchell was a real difference-maker, however. 

When Ellis got into foul trouble early in the first quarter, Mitchell was the first King off the bench. He hit a three right away and got a huge stop on Harden. Between Mitchell, Trey Lyles, Alex Len, and Sasha Vezenkov, the Kings weren’t missing anything off the bench. 

Lyles and Mitchell combined for 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Mitchell’s three-point shooting has really come along lately, and Lyles looks fully healthy just two games into his return from a knee injury. 

Those two led the charge, but Len was also huge off the bench. He was everywhere defensively, blocking three shots and grabbing five defensive boards in almost 12 minutes. His Defensive Player of the Game Crown was well deserved.

Playing a lineup of Mitchell, Murray, Vezenkov, Lyles, and Len in the second quarter, the Kings were even able to extend their lead with Fox and Sabonis on the bench. 

If the bench keeps playing this well, maybe there is some hope left for the Kings’ playoff chances after all. This was only the first big test, however. There are plenty of incredibly rough games coming up.