August 13, 2022

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

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

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First-round rookie pick Keegan Murray had another big game to help the Kings finish undefeated at the California Classic with an 87-75 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at Chase Center in San Francisco.

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 does not officially crown a champion, but it was the de facto championship game with the Kings and Lakers both entering the contest with 2-0 records.

“There was definitely motivation to go 3-0,” Murray said. “That’s kind of what we wanted to do 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 recorded a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Matt Coleman III and Keon Ellis added 10 points each. 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, held in Sacramento in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Murray led all players in scoring (19.7 ppg) and finished second in rebound (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 averaging 17.5 points, beating the Golden State Warriors 86-68 and the Miami Heat 81-64. The Lakers won their first two games by averaging 28.5 points, beating the Heat 100-66 and the Warriors 100-77.

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

The Kings led the Lakers 24-22 at the end of the first quarter. Murray had six points and three rebounds in the first period. Queta struggled to start, posting 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 at halftime after back-to-back baskets from Coleman, including a 3-pointer behind a Queta screen.

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

The Kings had a 65-54 advantage in the fourth quarter. The Lakers staged a big run to take a 70-69 lead on a Bass field goal, but the Kings regained the lead on a Murray jumper and pulled away in the final minutes of the game.

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

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