SACRAMENTO -- Slow starts are nothing new in Sacramento. Last season, they were like an epidemic that infested the club and couldn't be cured. The Kings have a similar problem this season, but somewhere along the way, someone does something special that wakes up the team and maybe more importantly, the crowd.
Against the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night, they had a few moments, but the two-handed facial on rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. by Nemanja Bjelica was the moment.
The Kings trailed by 19 points early, but had drawn to within striking distance heading into the fourth quarter. With 9:36 remaining in the final period and the team still down 79-70, Bjelica, who had not played well early in the game, went up and over Memphis' shot-blocking big.
Riding a crazed crowd, the Kings outscored Memphis 32-20 from this point in the game to come away with the huge win.
In Sunday's come from behind win over the New Orleans Pelicans, the first moment came early in the game.
Once again, the Kings had fallen behind by 19 in the first half. They needed a jolt of energy to get them back in the game and De'Aaron Fox provided the lift.
"I got the block and Buddy came down and got a lay up and the crowd got into it and they might have called a timeout right after that," Fox said. "It's little plays like that that give us a spark."
Sacramento needed another boost in the fourth quarter. Trailing by 11 with 7:37 remaining, Buddy Hield hit a 3-pointer to cut the Pelicans lead below double-figures.
50 seconds later, Justin Jackson buried a 3-ball from the corner as the shot clock expired to pull the Kings within five. Led by Jackson's clutch shot and Hield's hot shooting, the Kings ran off 14 unanswered over the stretch to erase the 11-point deficit and take a three-point lead, but Jackson's shot was a catalyst.
"It felt good," Jackson said of the make. "I was weakside and I got the ball and looked up and saw there was only four seconds left, so I was like, I've got to do something because he was guarding me up tight anyways. It definitely felt good to see it go in."
It's not the way you script a game if you are a coach and you can't continue to count on a big play here and there to put you over the top, especially on the road. But the Kings are winning. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Sacramento is 18-15 going into a short Christmas break. The last time the Kings were over the .500 mark at Christmas was the 2004-05 season and their starting lineup was Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Brad Miller.