The Kings are on a roll.
With Marvin Bagley and De'Aaron Fox both still sidelined with injuries, Sacramento is leaving Texas with an unlikely two-game win streak over a pair of the West’s best.
After beating the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, the Kings stunned the Rockets on Monday with a 33-foot Nemanja Bjelica buzzer-beater to secure a 119-118 victory in Houston.
Westbrook forced to eat his own words
Bjelica’s deep game-winner was an emphatic answer to Russell Westbrook, who moments earlier called game for the Rockets with a go-ahead bucket.
With time winding down and the game tied at 116, Westbrook dribbled the length of the floor and finished in traffic at the rim with a layup to give Houston a 118-116 lead with one second remaining.
The Kings called timeout, and Westbrook celebrated with his teammates, exclaiming “game over, game over” as he walked to the bench.
Westbrook’s been around the NBA long enough to know better. A second is plenty of time for a team with a timeout to make something happen.
And make something happen, the Kings did.
Bjelica gets feisty postgame
Corey Joseph waited patiently for Bjelica to get open on a halfcourt inbounds play and found the power forward well beyond the 3-point line. The distance wasn’t a problem for Bjelica, whose shot found the bottom of the net as time expired.
He was appropriately excited after his big moment.
Bjelica: “f*ck it, we deserve this win” pic.twitter.com/rVck2GiAWT— Ryley (@PrimetimeRyley) December 10, 2019
“F--k it, we deserve this win,” Bjelica said in his postgame interview.
Bagley returning soon
Bjelica’s played a big role in the Kings staying afloat while their young stars have been injured.
Bagley’s been sidelined with a broken thumb since the first game of the season, and Bjelica’s picked up a chunk of his minutes, averaging 11.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 26.3 minutes per game. He’s done so while shooting 48.3 percent from the floor and 42.6 percent from 3-point distance.
With Monday’s win, the Kings improved to 10-13 in a tough Western Conference playing without their two best players, good enough to remain competitive for a playoff spot.
Bagley was recently cleared for contact and could return to the Kings lineup as soon as Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. His return likely signals an end to Bjelica’s role in the starting lineup.
But Bjelica’s play to start the season will force coach Luke Walton to find playing time for the Serbian sharpshooter.
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