Kings hang on to beat Suns 116-109 in regular-season finale

PHOENIX (AP) — The Sacramento Kings have just finished a lousy year, which has been a common theme for the franchise for the past 16 seasons.

Interim coach Alvin Gentry said a look at their latest opponent, the NBA’s best Phoenix Suns, should provide hope that good times are soon to come.

Justin Holiday, Damian Jones and Donte DiVincenzo each scored 19 points and the Kings beat the Suns 116-109 on Sunday in the final regular-season game for both teams.

Gentry wasn’t particularly worried about the final score, acknowledging the Suns didn’t play most of their best players, but said the winning culture the Suns have built in a relatively short amount of time sets a great example for the Kings.

“Not long ago, they had the worst record in the NBA,” Gentry said of the Suns. “It wasn’t even 10 years ago, it was four years ago. The opportunity is there to make breakthroughs. That is what we should aim for.”

At 64-18, Phoenix finished with the best record in franchise history and had eight more wins than any other NBA team. The brilliant regular season comes just four years after finishing 19-63.

Sacramento went 30-52 and will miss the playoffs for the 16th straight year.

The Suns have rested most of their best players in preparation for the playoffs, including Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder. Coach Monty Williams said his main goal against the Kings was to help some of the backups gain confidence heading into the postseason.

“It wasn’t our best shooting night,” Williams said. “But one thing we always told our guys, do or miss, you have to let it fly and shoot with confidence.”

Mikal Bridges started but played just six minutes. He extended his playing streak to 309 games, which is every possible regular-season game since he entered the league four seasons ago. It is the longest active streak in the NBA.

Sacramento Kings forward Justin Holiday dunks off Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Phoenix.

Landry Shamet led the Suns with 27 points. JaVale McGee had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Trailing for most of the game, the Suns pulled within three points late, but Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell hit two free throws with eight seconds remaining to seal the score.

Mitchell finished with 18 points and 15 assists.

The Kings also sat out several of their best players, including leading scorer De’Aaron Fox.

The Kings dominated in the first half, shooting 60% and taking a 67-51 halftime lead. Holiday had 16 points before the break while Mitchell added 10. Shamet had 12 points for the Suns.

ALL GOOD

The Suns should enter the playoffs with a healthy playing rotation. Paul has returned for several games since he missed more than a month with a broken thumb. Cam Johnson also returned after missing time with a thigh contusion.

Bridges and McGee were the only two rotation players available for at least 70 of the 82 games this season.

TIPS

Kings: Terence Davis II (right wrist), Fox (right hand soreness), Richaun Holmes (personal), Alex Len (back soreness) and Domantas Sabonis (left knee contusion) were all out.

Suns: Converted F Ish Wainright’s deal from a two-way deal to a standard NBA deal. The 27-year-old has appeared in 44 games this season and is averaging 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. … Bridges won the team’s Majerle Hustle Award for the third time in his four seasons. The award’s namesake, Dan Majerle, virtually presented Bridges with the award.

UNTIL NEXT TIME

The Suns are preparing to host Game 1 of the first round of the NBA playoffs.

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More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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