Short-handed Raptors get blown out by Kings

Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic insisted the desire was still there after Wednesday’s 123-89 blowout loss to the visiting Sacramento Kings.

“It’s just desire to do better. Everybody’s eager to perform better, to compete better,” Rajakovic said when asked of the mood in the locker room. “A lot of players are playing outside of their roles and something they’re not accustomed to.

“And nobody’s expected from this group to be something that they’re not, but they really got to be stars in their roles. They got to do small things for each other and that’s going to really help them to perform better and to be competitive in all of those games.”

Domantas Sabonis posted his 24th triple-double of the season with 13 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists for the Kings, who handed the Raptors their eighth straight loss.

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Toronto (23-46) has a single win in its last 11 outings.

Gary Trent Jr., the lone starter in Toronto’s lineup, led the Raptors with 18 points.

Starting point guard Immanuel Quickley joined the Raptors’ lengthy list of inactives due to personal reasons. Rajakovic said pre-game there wasn’t a timetable for his return.

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The Raptors were already missing forward Scottie Barnes (left hand fracture), centre Jakob Poeltl (left hand torn ligament), forward-guard RJ Barrett (personal reasons), forward Chris Boucher (partial MCL tear), and guard D.J. Carton (right ankle sprain).

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“When you’re going through situations like this, it takes time and it’s not happening overnight,” Rajakovic said. “And we had a couple of games that we were very competitive against good teams. Tonight, that was not the case.

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“We missed tonight Immanuel Quickley as well, adding to the list and then during the game we lost (centre) Jontay Porter (due to illness) as well. We’re just like going down the stretch and just, you know, we’re pretty thin right now.”

De’Aaron Fox scored a game-high 20 points for Sacramento (40-28), which has won four of its last five games. Malik Monk added 17 points off the bench.

“We came in here and we handled our business the right way,” Kings head coach Mike Brown said. “Great night for us, especially defensively, and doing the little things.”

Brown also lauded his star centre Sabonis.

“It’s a shame, but that’s who he is. He’s a walking triple-double machine,” Brown said. “I say it’s a shame because it should be celebrated a ton, but that’s what he does.

“When he doesn’t get a triple-double, you expect a double-double. He’s getting one of the two, and that’s why he should be in the conversation for MVP.”

Sacramento started quickly with a 9-3 lead just over two minutes into the first quarter. Toronto revived with the help of seven points from Ochai Agbaji and a three-pointer from Kelly Olynyk take a 17-16 edge midway through the quarter.

But the Kings led 32-27 after the opening frame.

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Alex Len capping an 11-4 Sacramento run just 2:14 into the second quarter prompted a Raptors timeout. Harrison Barnes then gave the Kings their largest lead to that point at 53-36, with a three-pointer.

Sacramento closed the quarter on an 11-0 run to lead 68-45 at halftime.

After Barnes’s three-pointer put the Kings up 30 with 8:10 left in the third quarter, the Raptors finally showed some life for a short stretch in making it a 78-54 game. But Sacramento responded with a 15-1 run capped by a Keegan Murray baseline dunk.

The Kings held a 99-65 lead entering the final quarter, when Sacramento sat its starters and Raptors fans headed for the exits early. Trent hits a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 25 points with 4:32 remaining.


The Raptors host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

The Kings will be in Washington to take on the Wizards on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2024.

&copy 2024 The Canadian Press

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