SACRAMENTO -- The fans came to watch De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball square off for the first times as professionals Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They ended up being treated to a breakout performance by Sacramento’s second team.
“It’s not all about Fox and Ball, it’s about Kings and Lakers,” Frank Mason said after another solid performance. “I’m just happy we got the win as a team.”
Coming into Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings ranked first in the league in bench scoring at 48.1 points per game. The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t far behind, posting 40.6 a contest, good enough for fourth in the NBA.
Sacramento received solid contributions from almost every player that stepped on the floor, including 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from starter Zach Randolph. But the group that came off the bench put on a show, outscoring Los Angeles 67-38.
In his fourth game in a reserve role, Willie Cauley-Stein scored a game-high 26 points in 28 minutes, including 13 in the fourth quarter as the Kings pulled away. He drew a crowd around his locker during post game, but he was the direct beneficiary of some stellar play by others.
Mason and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic broke down the Lakers defense countless times and found Cauley-Stein for the poster dunk. According to the official scoresheet, nine of Cauley-Stein’s 10 made baskets were assisted, including five alley-oops from Bogdanovic.
“We talked about it yesterday when we were icing,” Cauley-Stein said of his Serbian guard. “We were both sitting in the cold tub and exactly what happened is what we were talking about.”
Cauley-Stein is gifted athletically and he’s extremely long. He was a star receiver in high school and he knows how to go up and get a ball.
“I think he realizes, (he’s) just got to get it up there and I’m going to go get it,” Cauley-Stein said of Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic hit his first two 3-point attempts and it seemed to open the floor up for Sacramento. With defenders going over screens to defend the long ball, Bogdanovic used his dribble to get free.
When the Laker’s bigs stepped in to stop his dribble, Bogdanovic tossed the ball near the rim and Cauley-Stein finished with authority.
“It’s easy to play with Willie, because he can catch,” Bogdanovic said. “I didn’t pass perfectly those alley-oops, but he likes to be a little higher than usual.”
Both Bogdanovic and Mason set new career-highs in assists, finishing with seven dimes apiece off Dave Joerger’s bench. Bogdanovic dropped in 14 points and picked up two steals. Mason added 11 points and five rebounds.
The smallest player to step on the floor, Mason brings a physicality the Kings have lacked early in the season. Since earning rotational minutes four games ago, the 23-year-old is posting 9.8 points and 4.3 assists in 22 minutes a game.
“That’s who I am, that’s who I’ve always been,” Mason said when asked about his toughness. “I take a lot of pride in someone scoring on me and I play every possession like it’s game point.”
With the win, the Kings improved to 4-4 on their home floor and 5-13 overall this season. They’ll take Thanksgiving off, but return to practice Friday in preparation for the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday evening. They’ll need another big evening from the bench unit if they hope to build momentum going forward.