Kings

Five takeaways as Kings' comeback effort falls short in loss to Lakers

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USATSI

Five takeaways as Kings' comeback effort falls short in loss to Lakers

BOX SCORE

The build up to De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball fell flat Sunday when the Lakers rookie sat out game three of the Kings’ preseason schedule with an ankle issue. Despite the rookie’s absence, the game tipped off as scheduled. Los Angeles jumped all over Sacramento early, as the Kings missed one shot after another. The Kings found a way to slow the Lakers attack, but couldn’t get over the hump down the stretch, falling 75-69 to drop to 1-2 on the preseason.

1- Dave Joerger shook up his starting lineup, inserting Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein to go with veterans George Hill, Garrett Temple and Zach Randolph. The group looked like they had never met, going over four minutes before hitting their first bucket. The spacing was bad, the movement was bad and most of their shots came as the 24 second shot clock was sounding. It’s going to be a process as the Kings try to mix and match rotations. 

2- Zach Randolph is the Kings offense. Okay, maybe not, but he thinks he is. The 36-year-old is fending off father time, one half-hook at a time. He can also shoot the 3-ball, kill you from the mid-range and rebound. You’ll take 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting and six rebounds from a player entering his 17th NBA season. 

3- Have we seen the 10-man rotation? Joerger turned to a tight group in the third game of preseason. Hill and Fox shared the minutes at the point. Bogdanovic and Hield saw the majority of the time at the two. Garrett Temple started at the three and Vince Carter came off the bench. Z-Bo and Skal Labissiere ate up the minutes and the four and Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos played the five. No Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson or Frank Mason III. 

4- Vince Carter still has it. Vincanity isn’t the athlete he used to be, but he knows how to play the game and he knows when his team needs a hoop. The veteran wing dropped nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range in 20 minutes of action. It doesn’t sound like much, but his presence might result in four or five additional wins on the season. 

5- De’Aaron Fox is going to be fun. The rookie played just nine minutes before being shut down with a bruised back, but he still managed to make the highlight reel. Fox used his crazy speed late in the second quarter to slice right through the Lakers defense and finish over two players, including one trying to block the shot through the rim.

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.