Kings

Five takeaways from the Kings' 20-point preseason loss to the Spurs

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USATSI

Five takeaways from the Kings' 20-point preseason loss to the Spurs

BOX SCORE

After dispatching the San Antonio Spurs in the preseason opener on Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings traveled to Texas for a rematch on Friday. With half the team sitting out to rest, the Kings came up short, falling 113-93 for their first lost of the preseason.

1- De’Aaron Fox went to work. With George Hill sitting (along with the rest of the veterans), Fox picked up his first start and didn’t disappoint. The rookie scored 12 points and dished out six assists in 24 minutes of action. He’s an elite talent, but for him to take the next step as a point guard, he has to learn how to run a team. You’ll take a 6-to-2 assists-to-turnover ratio in a player’s second game as a pro. 

2- Buddy Hield joins the competition. After watching Temple start on Monday in Sacramento, Hield took full advantage of his opportunity on Friday. The second-year guard went off for 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting and hit a perfect 5-of-5 from the line. He was aggressive going to the rack, but he needs to find a way to involve others outside of the occasional ally-oop. 

3- Bogdan Bogdanovic knows how to play. With ball and player movement slowing to a crawl, the 25-year-old Serb came into the game and instantly started setting up his teammates. He started with a hook pass to Frank Mason for an open jumper and then sent a low post entry pass to a well established Papagiannis for a baby hook. Bogdanovic has an advanced feel and could easily steal minutes as a primary ball handler and distributor. He finished the night with four points, three assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes. Expect the Kings to take it easy on Bogdanovic in the preseason after a long summer of basketball in Europe. 

4- Willie Cauley-Stein wants to score. After finishing last season as the starter at the center position, Cauley-Stein is brimming with confidence. Against the Spurs, he pulled up for jumpers, ran the floor like a gazelle and even finished around the rim. The Kings would love to see the third year pro post 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting and chip in nine rebounds on a nightly basis.

5- A Georgios Papagiannis sighting. The Kings spent the 13th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft on the 7-footer out of Greece. He’s had a few moments here and there, but overall has struggled with the speed of the game. Against the Spurs, he looked confident, finishing the night with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes. It’s only preseason, but it's nice to see improvement from young players. 

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

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AP

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

Sacramento rebooted the franchise at the trade deadline last season and begin anew this season with veteran additions Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph to compliment a bevy of young players. 

Houston reloaded in the offseason, adding nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and a veteran defenders P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. They put on a show against the Warriors and look like one of the best the Western Conference has to offer once again. 

BETTING LINE 

Rockets by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings defense vs. The 3-pointer -- Houston launched an incredible 180 3-point attempts versus Sacramento last season, hitting a robust 75 (41.7 percent) of those shots. It’s a new-look roster for the Kings, but they’ve had very little time to develop defensive chemistry. Dave Joerger and his staff will game plan to slow the Rockets perimeter game, but Mike D’Antoni has a deep group that comes at you in waves.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 0-0

Rockets: 1-0

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Zach Randolph (tooth) out

Rockets: PG Chris Paul (bruised right knee) questionable

SERIES HISTORY 

The Rockets swept the Kings last season 4-0, including a 135-128 victory in the final week of the season. Houston leads the all-time series 124-88 and they hold an 83-42 advantage during the Sacramento-era. 

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE ROOKIES - The Kings walk into the 2017-18 campaign with five rookies on the roster, four of which should see time early in the season. De’Aaron Fox is the headliner, but don’t be shocked if Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Bogdan Bogdanovic play important roles on this team.

ROTATIONS - With 10 new faces on the roster, Joerger needed more than an abbreviated training camp and six preseason contests. Expect the coaching staff to try different looks throughout the first 20 games of the season as they search for answers.

BALANCING THE ROSTER - Joerger has five veterans and 10 players with two years of experience or less. If he goes with the vets, fans will call for the rookies. If he plays the rookies and the losses stack up, fans will call for his head. It’s an unenviable position that will require patience and a little faith.

QUOTE

“I’m expecting a high-paced game. I feel like our fans are going to come out, they’re going to give us a lot of energy, playing a team as good as Houston is.” -De’Aaron Fox

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

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USATSI

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.