WATCH: Mike Brown’s teaching moment with Terence Davis helps explain Kings’ improvement

Monday night’s matchup between the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns was a thriller that featured 16 ties and 16 lead changes before the Suns eventually escaped with a 122-117 win thanks to a 44-point, eight-rebound, six-steal effort by Devin Booker

The madness of the game and Booker’s big night earned most of the headlines, but instead of focusing on either of those items let’s take a look at a cool moment featuring Kings head coach Mike Brown and Terence Davis that illustrates why there’s so much positivity in Sacramento these days. 

In the middle of the second quarter, the Suns set up a side pick-and-roll but Cameron Payne decided to reject the screen and drove to the basket. Davion Mitchell moves with Payne, while Domantas Sabonis slides over to help as the Kings are trying to “ice” the screen, or force the ball handler to the sideline. Payne spots a seam between Mitchell and Sabonis, and drops a bounce pass to Ayton, who scores an easy layup.

During a timeout, Brown discussed the play with Davis, as he was supposed to be the one who rotated over to help on Ayton. Davis was too far under the basket on that occasion and had no chance to contest the shot or step in front of Ayton to try and draw a charge. Rather than just explaining what he wanted Davis to do, Brown actually demonstrated it and showed him exactly where he wanted him to be the next time it happened. 

As fate would have it, the Suns ran a similar set just two minutes later. Booker drops the ball off to a rolling Ayton, who tries to go up for another attempt at the rim. Only this time, Davis was ready and waiting just above the restricted area and drew a charge. An ecstatic Brown raised his arms and jumped around in celebration as the bench exploded. 

The Kings still have their issues on the defense; they rank 25th in the league allowing 114.4 points per 100 possessions. To some extent that was to be expected, however, given their personnel and the fact that they’ve been a laughingstock on that side of the ball for a few seasons now. Part of Brown’s remit when he was hired was to improve the defense, but it’s still a work in progress. 

“What we have to do is continue to try to clean up our mistakes,” Brown said. “I can point out one: TD as a low man and didn’t pull over in the first half, and I think Ayton gets a dunk or a layup. And then literally, five, six plays later, he pulls over like he’s supposed to and gets a charge. So those little things, doing it every time and not taking a possession for granted with your assignment is something that we have to continue to work on and fix.”

Moments like that one between Brown and Davis, though, help show why things are so improved in Sacramento overall. This group has bought in and there’s a sense that they’re finally building something rather than toiling a few steps below mediocrity. Even with this current three-game losing streak, they sit in seventh place in the Western Conference at 10-9, and will be in the mix to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. 

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