Kings

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.

“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.

Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.

“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”

On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.

Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.

The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.

It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.

“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”

To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.

“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”

Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.

“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”

The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.

It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.

Gameday: Kings will be without two starters as they play north of the border

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AP

Gameday: Kings will be without two starters as they play north of the border

For the second time in seven days, the Sacramento Kings face the Toronto Raptors for an early Sunday matinee. This time around, they’ll have to go to battle without their leading scorer and their starting point guard.

Zach Randolph has carried a tremendous load for the Kings over the last few weeks. The 36-year-old big has logged 30 or more minutes for the Kings seven times over the past 11 games. He’s posted huge numbers over that stretch, including a 35-point, 13-rebound performance in a win over the Pelicans.

In his 17th NBA season, Randolph is leading the Kings in scoring at 15.2 points and rebounding with 7.0. With a short break in the schedule, the team is giving Z-Bo an opportunity to catch his breath with a day off to rest. He’ll return to action when Sacramento travels to Philly and Brooklyn for back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition to Z-Bo sitting, rookie De’Aaron Fox will sit on Sunday with a quad contusion. He is listed as day-to-day moving forward and the injury is not considered serious.

BETTING LINE:
Raptors by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
George Hill vs. Kyle Lowry -- With De’Aaron Fox out, the Kings need Hill to continue his recent surge. He’ll draw a three-time All-Star in Lowry that has the Raptors machine running smoothly. If Sacramento has any chance of upsetting Toronto, they’ll need their veteran point guard to come up big.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 9-19, fourth place in Pacific

Raptors: 19-8, second place in Atlantic

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: C/PF Zach Randolph (rest) out, PG De’Aaron Fox (right quad contusion) out, SG/SF Malachi Richardson (sprained ankle) probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January at the earliest.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira (calf) out.

SERIES HISTORY:
After four straight losses to the Kings, the Raptors picked up a win at Golden 1 Center last Sunday, giving them a 1-0 advantage in the season series. Sacramento holds a 26-16 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Replacing Z-Bo -- Randolph has been spectacular for Sacramento in the early season, but he’s played more minutes than expected. The team last played Thursday in Minnesota. By giving Randolph Sunday off, the Kings are effectively giving the veteran a four day break from basketball activities.  Someone has to step up and fill the void or it’s going to be a long day for the Kings.  

Second Team Magic -- With the team shorthanded, Dave Joerger is going to need the second unit to continue their strong play. Two reserves will slide into the starting lineup, opening up an opportunity for the end of the bench to get some run.

Air Canada -- After 20 seasons of NBA action, this might be Vince Carter’s last trip to the city where it all began. The 40-year-old wing has played sparingly this season for Sacramento, but with the roster depleted, he’ll likely see action. Carter helped put Toronto on the map as an NBA city. It’s hard to imagine the fans not reacting to him in a positive way.

Fox bangs knees with Towns, ruled out with quad contusion

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USATSI

Fox bangs knees with Towns, ruled out with quad contusion

Rookie down. De’Aaron Fox banged knees with Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns in the first quarter Thursday evening at the Target Center. The Kings’ 19-year-old point guard was diagnosed with a right quadricep contusion and was ruled out.

Fox has played in all 28 games for Sacramento this season, posting 10 points and 3.9 assists in 26.3 minutes per game coming into Thursday evening. He left the game after just seven minutes of action, finishing with two points, two assists and two turnovers.

The fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft will likely be listed as day-to-day moving forward.