Sabonis has historic performance in Kings’ win over Rockets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area
The Houston Rockets have encountered many problems this 2022-23 NBA season and against the Kings on Friday at Golden 1 Center, Domantas Sabonis became their latest.
In Sacramento’s scrappy and physical 139-114 win over Houston, Sabonis proved that regardless of how the Rockets decided to guard the 26-year-old, it wasn’t enough. Once the dust had settled, Sabonis had 19 points, 16 assists, which is a career-high, and 15 rebounds.
The last time a Kings player had 15-plus points, 15 rebounds and 15-plus assists in a game most recently was on Jan. 6, 1965, when Oscar Robertson had 28 points, 20 rebounds, and 16 assists against the New York Knicks as a member of the Cincinnati Royals, for the NBA.
“Pretty cool. Pretty cool,” Sabonis told reporters postgame. “Most important thing is that we ended up getting a win. It was two games back-to-back, tough ones, and happy we left with both victories.”
For context, Robertson had 15 such games throughout his career.
Along with joining the Hall of Famer Robertson in the history books, Sabonis also joined Boston Celtics legend and Hall of Famer Larry Bird in an exclusive list: Being one of a handful of players specifically to have 19 points, 15 rebounds, 16 assists, two steals, and two blocks in a single game.
In his outing, Sabonis notched his 18th straight double-double this season, his 31st overall, and his fourth triple-double this year.
“I think sometimes … when you just look up and you see a guy with 10, 15, 20 rebounds every single night, you almost just take that as a given and you forget how difficult that is to do every single night, especially carrying the offensive load that he does,” Kings forward Harrison Barnes told reporters postgame. “I thought it was just a great performance the last two games by him but the great season that he’s having.”
What’s more, by helping the Kings (23-18) defeat the Rockets (10-32) in dominating fashion Friday night, that moved the Kings to five games over .500, the first time that has happened since April 2006.
“I think it means a lot just to beat the same team twice,” Barnes said. “We talked about just the mental approach to our game, our gameplan discipline, just staying focused in the present.
“I think the biggest thing, look at the standings, where we are, where we want to be, it’s just continuing to just win games that we feel like we can win.”
While Sabonis put the Kings on his back with his historic game, Sacramento’s star center wasn’t alone. Barnes (27), De’Aaron Fox (24), Terence Davis (22), Malik Monk (15), and Trey Lyles (13) all scored in double-figures.
For the Rockets, Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. both had 27 points, with center Alperen Şengün chipping in 14 points of his own.
Overall, the Kings shot 54.7 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point land and 86.2 percent from the free-throw line. Sacramento’s 3-point shooting numbers are important because the Kings recently broke the team record for most 3-pointers made in a single game on Jan. 9.
Simply put, the Kings outplayed the Rockets in almost every facet of the game.
That should happen, considering one team is eyeing a playoff appearance this season and another is aiming for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
As the Rockets were heading toward a lopsided loss, tensions rose in the fourth quarter. Rockets guard Garrison Matthews and Monk were part of a kerfuffle, leading to the ejection of both players, Chimezie Metu and Houston’s Tari Eason.
In all, Sabonis feels that Kings coach Mike Brown’s influence on defense has been helpful in Sacramento’s turnaround this season.
“He’s been amazing,” Sabonis said. “He’s been pushing us on the defensive end all season.
“In practice, we’re always drilling it, drilling it, every day so I feel like guys are locked in more on defense that way.”
After their dominant win over the Rockets, the Kings and their three-game win streak head to San Antonio to take on the Spurs on Sunday at the AT&T Center. If Friday’s game against Houston is any indication, Sabonis is slated to have another big game, maybe even another historic performance, en route to an All-Star selection.