|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)01:0020:00 ET6:00 PM CT23:00 , October 29, 2021
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana Attendance: 17,507
Kings, Pelicans make strides entering showdown
Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans
- The Kings and Pelicans have played in high-scoring games lately, with both teams scoring 100+ points in each of the last 14 meetings -- tied for the longest active streak between any two teams (also Clippers vs. Pelicans).
- Sacramento's games have been decided by an average of 6.8 points this season, the third-smallest average margin in the NBA behind the Lakers and Warriors (6.4 each).
- Harrison Barnes is the second player in NBA history to average at least 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 three-pointers made per game over his first four games of a season, along with Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns in 2019-20.
- The Pelicans are tied for fifth in the NBA in rebounds per game (50.2) but rank tied for 27th in points per game (100.8). Their ratio of points to rebounds (2.01) is the lowest in the NBA.
- Jonas Valanciunas is the only NBA player in the last 30 years to average 15.0+ points and 15.0+ rebounds while shooting 100.0 percent from free-throw line over his first five games of a season. The last player to do that in any five-game span was Minnesota's Kevin Love in 2010-11.
- Buddy Hield's 19 made three-pointers are the most in NBA history by a player over his first four games of a season with all of them coming off the bench.
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The Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans are both stressing game-to-game improvement as they try to grow into playoff contenders.
The Kings, who claimed an encouraging last-second victory at Phoenix on Wednesday, travel Friday to face the Pelicans. New Orleans has played better in splitting its last two games after starting the season 0-3.
"We're a different group," Sacramento coach Luke Walton said after Harrison Barnes' 3-pointer beat the final buzzer and broke a 107-all tie against the Suns. "We have a long way to go still, but we put in time and we put in work and it's a group that believes in each other, a group that knows they're headed in the right direction."
The fact that the Kings needed a basket at the buzzer after holding a 13-point fourth-quarter lead illustrated Walton's point that the team still has a ways to go. However, beating the defending Western Conference champions on the road was a good sign for an organization that has a string of 15 consecutive losing seasons.
"It's an emotional roller coaster sometimes," Walton said. "I'm happy for our guys because they did play really hard. They fought back from a poor first half, built up a nice lead, made some big plays. But we have to learn from that."
The victory came in the wake of losses to Utah and Golden State after Sacramento held second-half leads. Former Pelican Buddy Hield led the Kings with 26 points in 27 minutes off the bench as the team began a four-game road trip.
"Much better second half," Walton said. "We started hitting the glass better, started hitting some shots better and we played at a faster pace, and that's how we have to do for the whole game."
New Orleans also had an uneven performance Wednesday night, falling to the visiting Atlanta Hawks 102-99.
The Pelicans led by as many as 16 points and were tied with a minute left. But John Collins' dunk gave the Hawks the lead for good with 55.3 seconds left.
Rookie Herb Jones missed an opportunity to tie the score when he made one of two free throws, and Brandon Ingram missed a potential go-ahead jumper with 3.5 seconds left.
Still, taking an Eastern Conference finalist from last season to the wire after getting their first victory of the season two nights earlier at Minnesota was encouraging.
Guard Devonte' Graham, who scored a team-high 21 points, was asked if New Orleans was showing improvement over the last two games.
"Definitely, as far as taking care of the ball," he said after the Pelicans had just 11 turnovers in the wake of averaging 25 in the two games before that.
But New Orleans was out-rebounded by Atlanta 55-44, giving up 21 offensive rebounds.
"Obviously, we got outrebounded, giving up second-chance points," Graham said. "We've got to clean up those offensive rebounds. You can't let any team get that many second-chance opportunities. It's going to kill you.
"But that's correctable, and I think we played very well defensively. We put ourselves in a position to win again. It's growing pains. You've got to learn, you've got to be in those positions to know what you've got to do and we'll learn from it."
--Field Level Media
Updated October 28, 2021