Keegan Murray suffers injury as Kings’ winning streak ends with blowout loss to Pelicans

Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports
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The Sacramento Kings’ six-game winning streak ended and they came out of Monday’s blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans with two more injuries to rotation players, including one to budding young forward Keegan Murray.

Murray didn’t come out of the locker room after halftime in a 129-93 loss to the Pelicans at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The team later ruled him out with a lower back injury while Kessler Edwards played with the starters. Additionally, guard Chris Duarte suffered a left hand injury and did not return.

Kings head coach Mike Brown did not have updates on Murray or Duarte after the game. Both players are likely to undergo further testing before Wednesday’s game that’s also in New Orleans.

Sacramento was among the least injured teams in the NBA last season when the team ended its 16-year playoff drought and finished as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. But they’ve dealt with a slew of injuries during their first 13 games this year and could be facing more if Murray or Duarte miss time.

“The next man has to step up,” Brown said. “We got to do it collectively.”

Injuries aside, Brown was not at all happy with his team’s performance against New Orleans.

“It didn’t matter who was in the game,” he said, “from the start to the end, they kicked our behind. You got to give them credit. Willie Green kicked my behind, on down. We did not show any resistance at all, no matter who we threw out there. Didn’t matter if we had injuries or not, we weren’t getting it done from the beginning.”

Murray had been charged with trying to slow the Pelicans top scoring threats, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, throughout the first half. Sacramento had little luck as New Orleans’ two All-Stars combined for 57 points.

Williamson made 12 of his 16 shots, all coming within the restricted area. Brown said the plan was to double team him, but the double teams either didn’t get there or have the intended effect.

“Zion was a grown-a-- man tonight, and we had no answers for him at all,” Brown said.

Added guard Kevin Huerter, who was back after missing Sunday’s game with an injury to his left, non-shooting hand: “I thought in the first half we didn’t show a crowd (to Williamson) enough. We gotta be better for each other in gaps and in help defense. Did a little better job in the second half, but obviously Ingram got it going.”

The two injuries to Murray and Duarte came a night after reserve guard Keon Ellis (sprained ankle) and forward Sasha Vezenkov (thumb) were hurt during Sunday night’s win over the Dallas Mavericks. Neither played Monday. It continued an unwelcome theme for the Kings early in the new season.

Reserve forward Trey Lyles remained out with a calf injury that’s prevented from playing at all during Sacramento’s first 13 games. He participated in a full-court scrimmage before Monday’s game and appears close to making his return. Backup center Alex Len has been out since Nov. 13 with an ankle sprain that’s expected to keep him out six to eight weeks. The latest injury concerns come after the Kings were without star guard De’Aaron Fox for five games due to an ankle injury from Nov. 1 to Nov. 10.

The Pelicans took advantage of the weary and banged-up Kings on the second night of a back-to-back after playing in Dallas on Sunday with big performances from their two best players. Ingram scored 31 points, which included 18 in the third quarter, while Williamson added 26 after scoring 18 in the second.

Fox’s recent hot streak was cooled on Monday. He scored 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting in 29 minutes after lighting up the Mavericks for 30 in Sunday’s win and averaging 32.3 points in four games since returning from injury. Fox played 29 minutes and didn’t appear in the fourth quarter after the Pelicans opened up a 30-point lead in the third. Domantas Sabonis had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 31 minutes. Harrison Barnes led the starters with 16 points, the most he’s scored since dropping 33 on opening night in Utah.

“We just didn’t have a good game,” Fox said. “Credit to them, they came out and had a good game and we just played bad. But at the end of the day, when you have games like this, you just try to throw them away. We see them again in two days, so we’re just trying to prepare for that one.”

The Kings (8-5) are staying in New Orleans and will have a second game against the Pelicans on Wednesday before traveling to Minneapolis, where they will spend Thanksgiving ahead of their in-season tournament game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

Upcoming schedule

Nov. 22 at New Orleans Pelicans

Nov. 24 at Minnesota Timberwolves

Nov. 28 vs. Golden State Warriors

Nov. 29 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Dec. 2 vs. Denver Nuggets