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Kings beat Lakers and went undefeated in the California Classic

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Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) is cheered by teammates and fans after scoring the first 3-pointer -- and his first touchdown for the Kings -- early in the first period against the Golden State Warriors during preseason basketball at the NBA California Classic.  game on Saturday, July 2, 2022 at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) is cheered by teammates and fans after scoring the first 3-pointer — and his first touchdown for the Kings — early in the first period against the Golden State Warriors during preseason basketball at the NBA California Classic. game on Saturday, July 2, 2022 at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

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Rookie first-round draft pick Keegan Murray had another big game to help the Kings go undefeated in the California Classic with an 87-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at San Francisco’s Chase Center.

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Murray finished with 24 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who went undefeated for the first time in the event’s four-year history. The California Classic doesn’t officially crown a champion, but this was the de facto championship game with the Kings and Lakers entering the contest with 2-0 records.

“There was definitely motivation to go 3-0,” Murray said. “That’s what we wanted to do going into this and we did it.”

Jared Rhoden scored 13 points for the Kings, who will now travel to Las Vegas to defend their 2021 NBA Summer League championship. Neemias Queta posted a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Matt Coleman III and Keon Ellis each added 10 points. Frankie Ferrari had seven points, four rebounds and six assists.

The Kings posted their best finish in the four-year history of the California Classic, which took place in Sacramento in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Murray led all players in scoring (19.7 ppg) and finished second in rebounding ( 8.0 rpg).

“Three games and regardless of the outcome, I think the way we competed was fun to watch,” Kings summer league coach Jordi Fernandez said. “…I’m very happy with what the guys have done so far.”

Javante McCoy scored 15 points to lead the Lakers. Vitto Brown and Paris Bass scored 13.

The Kings won their first two games by an average of 17.5 points, beating the Golden State Warriors 86-68 and the Miami Heat 81-64. The Lakers won their first two games by an average of 28.5 points, beating the Heat 100-66 and the Warriors 100-77.

The Lakers’ roster included Scotty Pippen Jr., son of Hall of Famer Scotty Pippen, and Shareef O’Neal, son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. Pippen was limited to five points on 2-for-10 shooting. O’Neal scored three points in three minutes.

The Kings led the Lakers 24-22 late in the first quarter. Murray had six points and three rebounds in the opening period. Queta had a hard time getting going, scoring zero points and zero rebounds in eight minutes.

The Lakers opened up a 43-38 lead with just over a minute left in the second quarter. The Kings tied the game before halftime after consecutive baskets by Coleman, including a 3-pointer behind a screen by Queta.

Sacramento finally created some separation midway through the third quarter. Murray hit a 3-pointer to put the Kings up 58-48 with 4:22 remaining. He hit another to extend the lead to 13 in the final minute.

The Kings took a 65-54 lead into the fourth quarter. The Lakers put together a great run to take a 70-69 lead on a basket by Bass, but the Kings regained the lead on a jump shot by Murray and pulled away in the final minutes of the game.

“No matter what happens, the effort is always there, good or bad,” Murray said. “If a team runs away, the effort will still be there for us. Every time we go in, I feel like we’re going to win the game.”

Jason Anderson profile picture

Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He began his reporting career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.

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