Kings

Five takeaways from the Kings preseason opening win vs Spurs

kings-spurs.jpg
AP

Five takeaways from the Kings preseason opening win vs Spurs

SACRAMENTO -- Game on. The Sacramento Kings returned to the court for their first preseason game Monday evening at Golden 1 Arena. Gregg Popovich and his perennial playoff San Antonio Spurs walked away wondering whether they just played a basketball or ran a track meet.

With both teams relying heavily on their young players, the Kings came away with the 106-100 victory to start the 2017-18 exhibition season.

1- Joerger is leaning on the vets. The Kings’ starting lineup featured five 30-somethings, including George Hill, Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos. The young players saw plenty of court time, but Joerger is going to turn to this group for plenty of minutes early in the season as the young players find their NBA sea legs.

2- The second unit is going to push for minutes. After starting the vets, Joerger turned to a second unit of De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. The youth movement put on a show. They made plenty of mistakes, but they played hard and they played fast.

3- Fox hasn’t mastered the jumper, but he’s so fast that it doesn’t matter. Speedster Patty Mills couldn’t stay in front of the rookie and Fox even ran out of his shoe at one point. The rookie posted 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes of action. It’s going to be hard to keep him off the court once the regular season begins.

4- So many players and only 48 minutes to play. Joerger sent players in and out of the game as fast as he could possibly substitute and it still felt like everyone needed more time. Frank Mason III dropped in 17 points in 22 minutes. Labissiere added 15 points and four rebounds and Hield went for 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting as Joerger stuck with the young guys in the second half.

5- Baby steps. Rookie Harry Giles has competed in training camp everyday, but Monday night he was listed as “OUT - Bilateral Knee Rehab.” The Kings love the potential of the 19-year-old big, but they aren’t going to rush him into action.

Fatigue a factor as Kings fall to Raptors

kings_raptors_usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Fatigue a factor as Kings fall to Raptors

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are young and energetic, but they are still learning how to play a full 48 minutes. Against a veteran team like the Raptors, that’s not going to work.

The Kings came out of the gate slow, allowing the Raptors to score the first 13 points of the afternoon. After the second unit fought their way back into the game to take a 29-28 lead, Sacramento once again let up, falling behind 54-48 at the half.

Sacramento made runs at Toronto, but they never got closer that seven points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors pulled away for the 102-87 victory.

There are plenty of reasons for the team’s inconsistent effort. It doesn’t matter who Dave Joerger drops into the starting lineup, they tend to flounder.

De’Aaron Fox started alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic in the backcourt and struggled against veteran Kyle Lowry. The rookie began the game 0-for-4 before hitting 3-of-4 in the fourth quarter. In addition to the shooting woes, Fox turned the ball over a career-high seven times, including six in the first half.

“It’s frustrating - we all have those games, but (we) just have to get back into practice, focus on taking care of the ball and just look forward to playing Phoenix the next game,” Fox said.

Joerger pointed to the Kings’ heavy travel schedule early as a possible culprit for the sloppy ball handling.

“Sometimes that can be general fatigue,” Joerger said. “You know, traveling around, flying around, playing a bunch of games and you’re only [a] 19-year-old.”

Fellow rookie point guard Frank Mason III struggled as well. Mason didn’t turn the ball over, but he shot just 1-of-10 from the field to finish the afternoon with six points and three assists.

Buddy Hield has been electric for Sacramento since moving to the second unit. He started the game hot, hitting his first six shots. But when the Raptors tightened up the defense, Hield not only missed shots, but he made mistakes.

Hield finished the night 7-of-13 from the field, but he turned the ball over six times as he forced the action.

It was a learning experience for the young Kings. The Raptors have posted 48 wins or more four straight seasons. They currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference and there is little doubt that they’ll make a fifth straight playoff appearance.

Lowry, along with fellow veterans DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka combined to score 60 of the Raptors 102 points. When they needed a shot to put the Kings away, they got it.

With the loss, Sacramento dropped to 8-18 on the season. They’ll return to Golden 1 Center Tuesday to face the Phoenix Suns and it sounds like they should have Willie Cauley-Stein back after the big man missed the previous three games with a lower back strain.

 

Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going

temple_derozan_usatsi_.jpg
USATSI

Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going

For a young team like the Sacramento Kings, a 2-2 road trip is a huge success. An overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday has the Kings at 7-9 over their last 16 games, which is a big improvement over their 1-8 start to the season. They’ll host another quality playoff team in the Toronto Raptors for a Sunday matinee.

Zach Randolph is earning his $12.5 million this season. The 36-year-old big matched DeMarcus Cousins blow-for-blow in New Orleans, finishing with a season-high 35 points. He’s averaging 25 points and almost 11 rebounds per game over his previous four games. Dave Joerger received plenty of help from the young core, but without Z-Bo, the Kings would be stuck in reverse.

Toronto is in game two of a four-game road trip. They’ve won five straight and nine of their previous 11. Guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue to pace a Raptors team that currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference.

OPENING LINE:
Raptors by 7

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Garrett Temple vs. DeMar DeRozan -- Temple usually guards the toughest perimeter scorer for Sacramento and he’ll face a high-end wing on Sunday. DeRozan’s scoring is down nearly four points per game from his career-best 27.3 last seasons. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he can take you off the dribble and he lives in the mid-range. If Temple can limit DeRozan, the Kings have a shot to make it five in a row against the Raptors.  

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 8-17, fifth place in Pacific

Raptors: 16-7, second place in Atlantic

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: G George Hill (personal reasons( is out, C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) status unknown, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January. Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere were recalled from the Reno Bighorns on Saturday.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira (calf) out, G Delon Wright (shoulder) out.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Kings swept the season series over the Raptors last season and have a four-game win streak against the perennial playoff contender. Sacramento holds a 26-15 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Labissiere a Changed Man? -- The Kings shocked everyone when they sent Skal Labissiere to the Reno Bighorns earlier this week. The second-year big took the demotion in stride, averaging 28 points, 15.5 rebounds, five blocks and two assists in 35 minutes a night against G-League team competition. Sacramento is hoping the 21-year-old found some confidence with extended minutes.    

Give Z-Bo a Break -- At 36, Randolph is showing no signs of slowing on the offensive end. But if the Kings’ fleet of bigs don’t find a way to step up, the 17-year NBA veteran is going to wear down over time. A healthy Willie Cauley-Stein would help, but Labissiere and Kosta Koufos have the ability to take some of the pressure off as well.

More Frank Mason III -- Sacramento’s second-round pick is putting on a show since earning rotational minutes. Mason’s scored in double-figures in three straight and seven of his last 10 games. Joerger let him finish the overtime win in New Orleans and he made some of the biggest plays of the game.

QUOTE

“Where we’re from, bullies get bullied. In my hood, bullies get bullied.” -Zach Randolph to DeMarcus Cousins in the Kings’ overtime win over the Pelicans