Kings Use Suffocating Defense to Secure Second Summer League Title
Through six games in the California Classic and Las Vegas Summer League, it was clear Davion Mitchell could hold his opponents to an "off-night" regularly, but Tuesday in the Las Vegas Summer League Championship game, that prowess rubbed off on the entire team.
"They haven't run across a defense like ours," said head coach Bobby Jackson following the game. And he was right.
In the blowout victory, Sacramento forced a whopping 28 turnovers and tallied a staggering 18 steals. Summer League Championship Game MVP Louis King and summer standout Emanuel Terry recorded five apiece.
"I told them it's a simple game plan," continued Bobby Jackson following the victory. "Everybody was locked in and these guys bought into what we were selling in Training Camp and it just carried over."
The Boston Celtics, led by Payton Pritchard (20 ppg), had averaged a plus-20 point differential and over 100 points per game prior to the Championship, but were held to just 67 points as a team. Pritchard, who was primarily guarded by Mitchell, was held to a Summer League low six points on 3-of-9 from the field and six turnovers.
"Coming into Summer League, that was our identity." said Davion following the game. "We try to play hard defensively and get after it. We didn't try to outscore people, we tried to stop people from scoring."
The Summer League title is the second for Sacramento, which previously won the offseason tournament in 2014. Then, guard Ray McCallum won Championship Game MVP, leading Sacramento in scoring with 29 points. In 2021, it was Kings two-way forward Louis King, who filled the stat sheet with 21 points, three rebounds and five steals.
"It feels great," said the Oregon product following his MVP performance. "We had a lot of doubters coming into the game. A lot of people said we wouldn't come out with the win."
King was a standout for the Kings throughout the five-game schedule, in which the team went 5-0. He was second on the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game, while knocking down 46 percent of his three-pointers, pulling down 4.2 rebounds and dishing 2.4 assists per game.
The clear key to Sacramento's undefeated play in Las Vegas, though, was the team's defense - which started in Training Camp.
"Hats off to the guys because Training Camp was really hard," shared Bobby Jackson. "I kept preaching teamwork, chemistry, having each other's back [and] defending at a high level.
We [have] a great group of young guys that love to compete, play together... [and] they love to win." And win they did.
Now, the focus turns to the start of Sacramento Kings Training Camp at the end of September. The Kings will look to continue the defensive prowess set forth through Summer League and force more than a few "off-nights" in the regular season.