Despite loss in LA, Kings fight, show 'how much potential we have'

Despite loss in LA, Kings fight, show 'how much potential we have'

Two teams embarking on a youth movement went head-to-head Friday night at Staples Center. The Sacramento Kings, armed with plenty of first and second-year players, stumbled down the stretch to a Los Angeles Lakers team that boasts seven hoopsters born in 1993 or later. In the end, the home team managed a 98-94 win, sending the Kings to their 48th defeat of the season.

Los Angeles officially shut down veterans Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and Nick Young a while ago, leaving a young core of players to fend for themselves.

Sacramento is in a similar situation. They have rotated their veterans in and out of the lineup for the last few weeks while the youth play major minutes.

The game went down to the wire, with both teams exchanging hoops in the final minutes. A costly turnover hurt the Kings chances late and the Lakers escaped with a win.

“We fought, when they made their run, we responded back,” rookie Buddy Hield told media following the game. “It shows how much potential we have. It kinda sucks and it kinda of hurts, not executing on that play.”

Hield didn’t read the defense on an inbounds pass with the Kings trailing by two and five seconds remaining in the game. Veteran Corey Brewer stepped in and stole the pass, effectively ending the game.

“It’s good for them,” Dave Joerger said of the crunch time battle. “We work on it, we spend time on it and then you get these opportunities and it’s good for them.”

Playing against fellow 2016 first rounder Brandon Ingram, Hield managed to score 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, but his four turnovers stand out. Ingram finished with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting in the Lakers win.

At least one of the Kings’ young players is getting the veteran treatment. Second-year big man Willie Cauley-Stein came out hot, scoring 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting through the mid-third quarter. He added seven rebounds and three blocks in just 23 minutes of action as he sat during the fourth quarter and watched the rookies go to work.

“I’m just getting comfortable, starting to find my pace and starting to get real confident on both sides of the floor,” Cauley-Stein told reporters following the game. “It’s going to be real interesting and I’m excited for what’s to come.”

The eccentric 7-footer out of the University of Kentucky laid out his summer plans during postgame, including an unconventional course he has decided to partake in.

“I plan on doing this Navy Seals training for the first six weeks,” Cauley-Stein said.

With an elongated summer, Cauley-Stein will have plenty of time to get back to basketball basics. Going through something like Seal training can only help the wiry big get stronger and build his endurance.

Sacramento’s lack of strength in the post was on full display all night. The Lakers scored 60 points in the paint and came away with 16 offensive rebounds. Julius Randle bullied the Kings in the post, coming away with 25 points and six rebounds, five of which were on the offensives end.

“We turned the ball over 23 times, they threw us around in the paint and they got off 16 offensive rebounds,” Joerger said. “And maybe we aren’t in that situation down the stretch.”

Skal Labissiere, like Cauley-Stein, understands he has to get stronger over the summer. The rookie forward finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but he managed just three rebounds in 33 minutes of action.

19-year-old Georgios Papagiannis scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he continues to show improvement late in the season. Veteran point guard Darren Collison scored 15 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed five rebounds.

The loss snapped the Kings two-game win streak and dropped them to 31-48 on the season. They return home to Sacramento for a Sunday matinee against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center.


Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away


Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

SACRAMENTO - All hands on deck. The Sacramento Kings open the 2017-18 schedule Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center and it looks like they might do so with a full arsenal of players at their disposal.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to practice on Sunday and then participated in the team’s annual Fanfest. If his dance moves are any indication, the 19-year-old’s back is feeling just fine.

Veteran George Hill tweaked his groin Friday against the Golden State Warriors, leaving his availability for opening night in question. Hill, 31, who has a history of groin injuries, was on the court Monday practicing and said he is ready to play.

“Everything is feeling good right now,” Hill said Monday following practice.

The only player who didn’t practice on Monday is rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors. According to head coach Dave Joerger,  the team is hopeful that the Serbian sharpshooter will return in time for Game 1.

“We’re still shooting for Wednesday for both of them,” Joerger said of Hill and Bogdanovic.

New look Rockets

The Rockets went 55-27 last season under head coach Mike D’Antoni, but that didn’t stop them from going all in during the offseason. With MVP runner-up James Harden already manning the backcourt, Houston added nine-time All-Star Chris Paul as their new starting point guard.

“Leadership, he’s a floor general,” Hill said about Paul. “Anywhere he goes, he’ll make a team better. We know they were already a good team without him, coming in with him is going to be a bigger task.”

It’s a new look roster and the expectations are huge for the Rockets. Houston averaged 115.3 points per game last season and led the league in both 3-point attempts and makes. This season, they also added two strong perimeter defenders in P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s a huge test coming out of the gate for Sacramento. Following the contest against the Rockets, the Kings hit the road for three straight before returning to Golden 1 next Thursday to face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Camp notes

With the season just around the corner, the Sacramento Kings made their final roster cuts on Sunday afternoon. David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn were waived, leaving the Kings with 15 rostered players and two two-way players in Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.

Stockton, Jones and Hearn are all expected to join the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s G-League.

Kings waive three players days before season opener


Kings waive three players days before season opener

SACRAMENTO The Sacramento Kings announced Sunday that the team has requested waivers on guards David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn.  

Stockton appeared in two contests for Sacramento during the preseason, averaging 11.5 points (9-13 FG, 3-4 3pt, 2-4 FT) and 5.0 assists in 16.3 minutes per game, including a game-high 23 points to accompany three rebounds, eight assists and two steals off the bench at Golden State (10/13).

Jones played in five exhibition games, posting 2.0 points, 1.0 rebounds and 11.7 minutes per contest. 

Hearn appeared in one preseason game. 

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