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Kings end NBA’s longest drought as they return to the postseason for the first time in 16 years


The Sacramento Kings finally put an end to the longest NBA drought in league history, as the team returned to the postseason for the first time in 16 years by securing their spot with a blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Sacramento beat Portland 120-80 on Wednesday to impressively claim the third seed in the Western Conference, with six games left in the regular season.

The Kings wouldn’t be where they are this year without forward Keegan Murray, who led a three-pointer during the third quarter against the Trail Blazers to set the NBA rookie record with 188 trips in a season.

Murray’s 3-pointer with 6:44 left in the quarter allowed him to break the previous mark set by Donovan Mitchell in 2017-18 when he was a member of the Utah Jazz.

Trey was Murray’s third of the match. Murray entered the contest tied for second in 3-pointers made by a rookie, as Damian Lillard made 185 for the Trail Blazers in 2012-13.

The Sacramento Kings finally ended their 16-year drought with a win over Portland

Murray has the highest 3-point field goal percentage (40.7 percent tackle on Wednesday) for a rookie who has had at least 400 long-range attempts. Siddig Bay is second on that list having hit 38 percent for the Detroit Pistons in 2020-2021.

Murray, last year’s fourth overall pick from Iowa State, entered the night averaging 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 73 games (71 starts).

Portland was depleted with regular starters Damian Lillard (right calf), Jusuf Nurkic (right knee), Anfernie Simmons (right foot) and Jeremy Grant (left quadruple) all nursing injuries. And it got worse for Portland on Wednesday when Keon Johnson, who had lost 20 points against New Orleans on Monday, broke his finger in a shootout. I only played seven Blazers.

Kings 22-14 on the road this season, third best in the NBA. And they’ve avoided long losing streaks: The team’s longest streak came early in the season when the Kings opened with a four-game winning streak.

“I think every experience we’ve had this year can help translate (to the playoffs),” said Kings coach Mike Brown. But I tell you, we’re going to experience that in qualifying on another level. And every round you advance in the Qualifiers, you’ll take it to another level.

Sacramento could have ruled the playoff earlier in the night, but the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 141-132. Freshman Shedon Sharp scored 30 points for the Blazers, who have lost four straight games and 10 of their last 11 games. The loss to the Kings eliminated Portland from playoff contention.

Not only did the Kings finish the longest period of time an NBA franchise has gone without a playoff appearance, but also the longest active postseason drought of any team in the NBA, NFL, NHL, or MLB.

I feel like this group believes in themselves, not just because I tell them they’re good, but because they’ve really gone out and proven it time and time again, whether it’s individually in certain situations or collectively,” Brown said before his victory on Wednesday.

When you have a team that believes, they can be dangerous. You have a connected team that believes they can be a very dangerous team and that’s what our group is now.

The Kings are also one of the best feel-good stories in the NBA this season with an entertaining basketball style that leads the league in scoring at 120.9 points per game, the highest mark in the league since 1983-84.

Every home win is highlighted by lighting the beam—a beam of purple laser light atop Golden 1 Center—and fans have even cheered for the beam at road games across the country.

“There’s a playoff atmosphere every night,” Kevin Hurter, one of the offseason’s standout acquisitions, said after his recent home win. The only thing missing is handing out T-shirts and maybe some towels, whatever they do in the playoffs. But it really is this every night.

The Kings have been one of the most successful franchises since they moved to Sacramento in 1985. They had a losing record in each of California’s first fourteen seasons, winning just one playoff game.

That all changed in 1999 when general manager Jeff Petrie and head coach Rick Adelman built a winner around players like Chris Webber, Fled Divac and Peja Stojaković, who played an entertaining style in a tough era that almost won a championship.

The Kings posted eight consecutive winning records and playoff berths under Adelman, but lost a heartbreaking seven-game streak to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 and then saw their title hopes derailed the following year when Weber went down with a serious knee injury in the second. Qualifying round.

Adelman kept the team competitive until 2006 but was let go after a second straight playoff round exit.

Then the dark era began with 16 consecutive losing seasons under 11 coaches, a change of ownership and fears that the city would lose its only professional team to Seattle.

Vivek Ranadive bought the team from the Maloof family in 2013 and kept the team in Sacramento by building a downtown arena, but there was no success in the stadium until this year.

The Kings traded superstar DeMarcus Cousins ​​and fell short on several high picks. But they were revived after a trade to Indiana last year that sent promising guard Tyrese Haliburton to Indiana for a big playmaker in Sabonis and the decision to hire Brown as coach.

Sabonis proved to be the perfect piece to work with the speedy Fox, giving Sacramento a dynamic duo.

Fox averages 25.4 points per game and was the league’s leading scorer this season, hitting a league-high double digit fourth quarter 25 times.

Sabonis, acquired in a controversial trade from Indiana midway through last season for promising guard Tyrese Haliburton, was the perfect piece to work with Fox with his playmaking ability as a big man. Sabonis averages 19 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists along with 12 triple-double triples.

In addition to outside shooting from Huerter and rookie Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes’ veteran presence and scoring off the bench from Monk and the Kings caught the attention of other contenders.

“Give Mike Brown a lot of credit,” said Celtics star Jason Tatum. “He’s got the guys playing a lot better. Fox plays at the NBA level. Sabonis has been great for them. They’re playing at a lot of pace. All of these guys have more confidence.”

“When you play with confidence, it naturally opens things up for the individual and the group.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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