With all NBA games postponed indefinitely and the future of the 2019-20 season hanging in the balance, it is exceedingly hard for basketball fans to make sense of the future.
However, there are plenty of highlights to look back on. Even though there were down times in between, each month brought at least one special moment to Sacramento Kings fans.
Let’s take a look at the best moment of each month of the Kings’ season.
OCTOBER 28: HOLMES BREAKS OUT
The Kings played only five games in October and lost all of them. But one of Sacramento’s most important players came onto the scene during that stretch. With Marvin Bagley III out and Dewayne Dedmon struggling, Richaun Holmes caught fire against the Denver Nuggets.
A pair of dunks, a couple of layups and three smooth floaters helped Holmes find the bottom of the net on all of his first-half shot attempts. Denver slowed him down after the break, but his energy and defense still had him looking like the best player on the floor for stretches.
Holmes gave the Kings a late lead with an explosive alley-oop from De’Aaron Fox. Another vicious dunk put fans on their feet with 0:47 remaining. The Kings lost by a small margin, but Holmes’ 24 points and 13 rebounds off the bench was season-altering performance.
Sacramento had lost the first three games of the year by 71 combined points, but this time they gave a good team serious trouble. Everyone knew who the credit belonged to. Holmes was moved into the starting lineup two games later and he never looked back.
NOVEMBER 19: BOGI FILLS IN, NOTCHES CAREER HIGH
By November, Fox had joined Bagley on the bench due to injury. He left big shoes to fill and Bogdan Bogdanovic stepped up. He played nearly 30 minutes per game while Fox was out and averaged 15.8 points and 4.3 assists.
Bogdanovic logged 25 points and 10 assists in Fox’s first absence, a win at home over Portland. He recorded another double-double a few days later in an impressive win over the Boston Celtics. But Bogdanovic never got hotter than he did when the Phoenix Suns came to town.
Bogdanovic scorched the Suns with a 16-point second quarter, including four 3-pointers. The Kings built a comfortable 20-point lead thanks to his heroics. Phoenix battled back but Bogdanovic added 12 more in the fourth and ended the game with a career-high 31 points.
Suddenly, the Kings had won six of their last eight games. The slow start was in the rear view mirror, and Kings fans had hope again. Golden 1 Center was rocking that night. The team may have been missing its point guard, but the do-it-all Bogdanovic filled the cracks seamlessly.
DECEMBER 9: WE DESERVED THIS WIN
The Kings were keeping their heads above water with increasingly improbable wins. Still without Fox and Bagley, the team had just beaten Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on the road. A quick trip across the state and they faced the Houston Rockets the next day.
The chances couldn’t have been worse for the Kings that night. Head coach Luke Walton shortened his rotation and played most of his key players over 30 minutes despite some tired legs. It was one of the closest games of the season from buzzer to buzzer. Neither team had control.
With one second remaining, Russell Westbrook drove through a tired Kings defense and hit a layup to give the Rockets a two-point lead. But Cory Joseph found an unmarked Nemanja Bjelica out of the ensuing timeout and the big man drilled a 33-footer for the win.
A postgame interview has never looked so beautifully exhausted. Bjelica stumbled for words to describe the moment. He was visibly drained from the road trip with an injury-shortened bench. He finally settled on a word choice that we can’t publish here. But truly, he deserved that win.
JANUARY 27: FOX FORCES OT, HIELD GOES FOR 42
This has been the craziest NBA season in recent memory, and it started well before the coronavirus breakout. In January, the league was rocked by the tragic and sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and eight other lives. The Kings played a road game in Minnesota the very next day.
It was one of the most surreal games to witness. Everything was somber and serious. Players comforted each other and honored Kobe with their words before and after the game. Buddy Hield scored a career-high 42 points that night and dedicated his performance to Kobe.
The game also included one of the wildest sequences of the season. Sacramento was down by 17 points with just 2:49 left to play. The Kings exploded for a comeback, fueled by the red-hot Hield. He was perfect from 3-point range and scored 20 points in the fourth.
Down by three with 4.7 seconds to play, Fox went to the line for two free throws. He made the first, intentionally missed the second, flew in to grab his own rebound and tied the game with a layup. The Kings finished off the Timberwolves in overtime to complete a stunning comeback.
FEBRUARY 28: TWO WINS OVER MEMPHIS IN NINE DAYS
A miserable 3-15 midseason slump was long gone at this point. The Kings were taking care of business against the teams that mattered the most. Sacramento was in a race with the Grizzlies, Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Suns for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
In February, the Kings went 3-0 against those opponents, including two games against the leader of the pack. Memphis was hovering around .500 and all of Sacramento knew the team would have to win both games to stay relevant in the playoff picture.
Harrison Barnes had his best game of the season in the first matchup, going for 32 points and seven 3-pointers. Surprise spark plug Kent Bazemore chipped in 18. The Grizzlies managed to make it a one-point game with 3:07 remaining, but the Kings secured the win.
Eight days later, Sacramento outlasted Memphis again. This time they were on the road and the margin of victory was even tighter. Fox was in charge that night, scoring 25 and dishing 5 assists. His decision-making was impressive and mature as he only turned the ball over once.
MARCH 7: ROAD WIN PUTS KINGS ALONE IN NINTH PLACE
The Kings were officially on a hot streak by the time they traveled to Portland in early March. They had won 12 of 18 games including the aforementioned wins over Memphis and another pair of impressive road victories over the Clippers.
Sacramento was tied for ninth place in the West with the Trail Blazers. The winner of that night’s game would be just 3.5 games behind Memphis for the last playoff spot. It was the biggest game of the year and the Kings jumped out to a 26-10 lead in the first quarter.
This one was a full-fledged blowout. Portland didn’t want any of it, and play had to be stopped briefly when C.J. McCollum let his frustration boil over into a shoving match with Alex Len. Bogdanovic was masterful for Sacramento with 27 points and seven 3-pointers.
That night marked the high point of not just March, but of the entire season for Sacramento. The Kings were truly back in a playoff race and the team was proving that they could beat their primary competition.
APRIL, MAY OR JUNE?
The Kings played well at home against the Raptors in their next game but lost. Next up was the Pelicans, who pulled alongside the Kings in the standings with a pair of recent wins. Sacramento would play two games against them and two games against the Spurs before the season ended. Those were the keys to catching Memphis if they slipped.
But of course, that Pelicans game never tipped off. We haven’t seen any NBA basketball since.
Now March is almost over and we don’t expect any basketball in April or May. The months are going to tick by slowly, but Kings fans are praying they see the season resume eventually.
There have been too many good moments to let go now.
©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.