Kings Block Bulls to Advance
Get a reaction from the team as Sacramento cruises past Chicago to earn a spot in the Summer League semifinals Sunday.
Taking on the top-seeded Bulls on Saturday during the Summer League quarterfinals, the Kings raced to an 80-61 victory.
The win, which was again spurred by five double-digit scorers, propels Sacramento into the semifinals Sunday at 5 p.m. in a matchup with fourth-seeded Washington.
Though it was the River City’s fourth-straight win, the team is hungry for more.
“I want to win this whole thing, the coaching staff wants to win this whole thing and as a group, we want to win this whole thing,” stated Summer League invitee Eric Moreland.
No. 40 helped lead Sacramento’s defense on Saturday afternoon, stifling Chicago to a 30.7 FG%. The Kings also blocked eight shots and controlled the rebounding battle, 38-33, including a 32-21 defensive-board advantage.
Moreland was a big reason for Sacramento’s success – the Oregon State product contributed a team-high eight boards and three blocks, including a massive two-handed momentum-changing rejection in the first quarter.
“I love the two-handed block – that’s like my signature,” said the 6-foot-9 forward.
Although it has taken time for Moreland to learn the nuances of Sacramento’s system, his hard work has paid off.
“I told him in front of the whole team, he goes in there and makes stuff happen,” said Kings Head Coach Michael Malone. “His activity level, his motor, his multiple-effort mindset bodes well for him and his future.”
While the team’s leading rebounder and shot-blocker led the defense, Sacramento’s offense was guided by a quintet.
Ben McLemore started strong, scoring five of his team-high 11 points in the first period. The second-year guard has now scored in double figures in each Summer League tilt amassing 73 points in five games.
“The last three games he’s been terrific,” said Coach Malone. “He’s been under control, taking what’s there – if he’s open he shoots it, if he has a chance to drive then he’s driving – and he’s been making plays for his teammates.”
No. 16 added three assists and four rebounds against the Bulls in just over 23 minutes of action.
Chicago was led by Tony Snell, who finished with 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field, but without sharpshooting rookie Doug McDermott (left foot), the Bulls couldn’t keep pace with the red-hot Kings.
Sacramento shot a blazing 56 percent in the first half and outscored the Bulls, 26-18, in the second period, as MarShon Brooks and Ra’shad James combined for 15 points in 10 minutes.
Brooks finished with 11 points in just over 13 minutes of action, again demonstrating his scoring prowess.
“That guy can score so easy – it’s amazing – and that’s why he’s a valuable player in the NBA,” said Sacramento’s head coach.
In the second half, the team’s lead swelled to double-digits. By the time the fourth-quarter buzzer sounded, Sacramento saw 11 players score and 15 earn time on the court.
“As this week has gone on, we’ve gotten better on both sides of the basketball,” said Malone, who’s bench tallied 42 points.
“The guys shot 49 percent from the field, 47 from three and held them to 31 percent – so that’ a great job on both ends.”
Jared Cunningham played a key reserve role, finishing with 10 points, while Rocklin, Calif. native Brendan Lane registered his best outing with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
“Great kid, smart player, hard worker, battles, has toughness,” said the Kings leader of Lane. “This is an audition for us as the Sacramento Kings, for the 29 other NBA teams, as well as teams over in Europe, so those guys are really maxing out the opportunity given to them.”
Lane added five boards and one block to his stat line in just over 17 minutes on the hardwood.
Quincy Acy rounded out the purple and black offensive barrage with 10 points to go along with five rebounds.
Now, Sacramento looks to maintain its winning ways.
Less than 24 hours after dismissing the top seed in the tournament, the Kings will face the undefeated Wizards (5-0) for a chance at Monday’s championship showdown.