Coach Christie earns game ball after Kings 119-105 win
Doug Christie took over head coaching duties Wednesday night and led the Kings to a 119-105 win over the Wizards, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process.
Christie was tapped as lead man from the bench after interim head coach Alvin Gentry was placed in the Health and Safety protocols Wednesday morning. The team, however, did not miss a beat in Gentry’s absence, putting on one of their best second-half performances of the season in Christie’s first appearance as head coach on the NBA level.
“I wasn’t super nervous, oddly enough,” Christie said following the win. “I did have a million things running though my head, which I just went and found a room and wrote down a few things that I wanted to focus on, and all the assistants were incredible to kind of help and guide me through in certain parts. Then the team, they just responded.”
De’Aaron Fox led all Kings scorers with 28 points while Harrison Barnes added 19 points and five rebounds. Davion Mitchell finished with 13 points in his first career NBA start and Tristan Thompson came off the bench for 15 points of 6-of-7 shooting from the field.
“I thought that they were spectacular, man,” Christie said. “I thought they played a really good all-around game. I mean, when you look at Ty, he almost had a triple-double – eight rebounds, nine assists, eight points– Davion in his start, defensively I thought he was special. I tell him all the time, the court is 94 feet long, the first 47 are yours, you do in it what you want. And after that, after he start picking up, I was like there you go. And Fox is just special, man. When he gets downhill, when he gets that rhythm, it turns into something different.”
The Kings trailed by as much as 12, 89-77, late in the third quarter before reeling off 13 unanswered points to take a 90-89 lead with just 9:50 left to play.
Sacramento held the Wizards to just 15 points the rest of the way to earn the victory at home and give Christie his first win as an NBA head coach.
“It was difficult. That’s a team that has had some ups and downs, but they’ve played well in the Eastern Conference – they’re probably going to be a playoff team as they continue to go through after the big trade that they had.” Christie said. “They had us down and for us to come back and fight back the way that we did, that’s what makes a lot of winning worth it. If it was easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It requires a toughness, and I thought that we showed that tonight.”
The team also awarded Christie, who spent four years with the Kings as a player, with the game ball for his efforts.
“Yeah, we gave him the game ball. We talked about it as a team," Tyrese Haliburton said after the game. "Obviously, we’re excited for him. We don’t know when Alvin’s coming back, nobody really knows what the real structure of everything is or how fast he’s going to fight it off. So, we’re rolling with what we got right now. Like it’s next man up when we go down, it’s the same way with coaches.”
The Kings were not only without their head coach, but also guard Terence Davis and forward Marvin Bagley, who had posted double-doubles in two of his last three games.
Despite being shorthanded, the Kings were still able to find a way to win and look to continue that success moving forward.
“This is a city that deserves a high level of basketball when they come out to watch it and unfortunately for a long time it hasn’t been that way. But it does not have to stay that way and it won’t. We’ll get it there. It’s step by step.”