Kings

Frustrations seen front and center in Kings' losing streak, 'enough is enough'

Frustrations seen front and center in Kings' losing streak, 'enough is enough'

Slow starts have plagued the Sacramento Kings all season long. The issue reared its ugly head again Saturday afternoon as the Kings dropped their fourth straight game. 

“Being a noon game, the first person with the most energy is probably going to win the game,” Willie Cauley-Stein said following the lopsided 126-105 loss. “Our energy didn’t really come til the second half through. They already got us in a hole.”

After scoring the first two buckets of the contest, Sacramento yielded a 12-0 run to the Clippers. They attempted to play catch up the rest of the afternoon with no luck. 

Thursday following the Kings loss to the Clippers, rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic sounded off on the issue. 

“Everytime, same mistakes,” Bogdanovic said. “We really need to work on video first of all, preparation for a game as well. We can’t let those teams have a 10-point or more advantage. It’s really hard to trail them the whole game.”

“Whoever starts, we start slow. That’s about team, inside, not about personnel. I think as a team, we’ve got to just start better and be more hyped," Bogdanovic added about the slow starts.

Bogdanovic has played years overseas and the issue of energy seems to perplex the 25-year-old Serbian wing. You can see the frustration on his face. It’s the same look that some of his teammates have shown, both veterans and young players.

Some of the young guys are grasping at straws for answers. De’Aaron Fox is one of the fastest players in the league and he’s in the starting unit that’s struggling to show energy to start ball games.

“We just have to play with pace and sometimes when a team comes out and shoots the ball they were doing today, it was kind of difficult to bring that energy,” Fox told reporters following the loss. 

The team isn’t pointing fingers at anyone but themselves. They’ve stayed together, but the current spiral is starting to get out of control. 

“It’s got to come from us, but it’s got to come from us holding each other accountable,” Cauley-Stein said. “Like, enough is enough. I think coach is at that point where, you know, he’s just not going to play you if you're not doing the right things and I think that’s how it should be.”

Dave Joerger has tried countless lineups this season to find a group that starts the game the right way. It might be time for him to try moving a veteran or two out of the starting group to see if the dynamic changes.

The Kings have lost four straight and nine of their last 11 games. They currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and they play seven of their next eight games on the road, beginning on the road Monday evening in Oklahoma City. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

He’s not really a rookie. After playing for years overseas, Bogdan Bogdanovic has proven very quickly that he is an NBA player. Midway through his first season in the league, the 25-year-old Serb is finding his stride. 

From the moment he stepped on the floor in Sacramento, Bogdanovic showed flashes of something special. You could see early on that he was trying to fit in and make nice with his teammates, but the honeymoon phase is over. Bogdanovic is no longer holding back.

For the third time in the new calendar year, Bogdanovic set a career-high in scoring on Wednesday evening. He dropped in 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 from long range. 

“I’ve said it all year, he’s not really a rookie, he’s been playing pro ball for so many years,” De’Aaron Fox said of his backcourt mate. “He definitely doesn’t play like a rookie. He brings the intelligence, the savvy, the shooting - defensively, he gets after it. He’s able to do everything for us.” 

He’s pushed his season numbers up to 11.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game. Bogdanovic has also raised his shooting percentages drastically as the season has progressed, knocking down 48.8 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. 

In eight games in January, Bogdanovic has taken his game to another level. He’s hit the opposition for 16.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 30.6 minutes a game. Dave Joerger has come to rely on the former Fenerbahce star, even giving him starts in the last two games since the youth movement was officially put into motion.

“I’m working every single day as hard as I can, I’m trying to be the best version of (myself).” Bogdanovic said following the team’s loss to Utah on Wednesday.

It’s a small sample size, but Bogdanovic’s shooting numbers in 2018 are off the charts. He’s hitting 54.8 percent from the floor, a stunning 58.3 percent on the 3-ball and 92.3 percent from the line.

With All-Star weekend on the horizon, Bogdanovic has likely earned his way into an invitation for the Rising Stars Challenge. Amongst rookies, he’s currently seventh in scoring, fourth in 3-point percentage, eighth in field goal percentage and sixth in steals. 

Sacramento’s 2017-18 season is about sifting through the young players and figuring out what they have. It appears the Kings have found a keeper in Bogdanovic. 

Gameday: Memphis homecoming for plenty of Kings

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USATSI

Gameday: Memphis homecoming for plenty of Kings

Want to get away? After dropping six straight games, the Sacramento Kings hit the road for a season long six-game trip beginning Friday in Memphis. 

It’s a homecoming game for plenty of Kings coaches and players, including Zach Randolph, who is playing in front of a Memphis crowd wearing an opposing jersey for the first time in eight years. Dave Joerger and most of his staff came over from the Grizzlies in the summer of 2016 and Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos spent time in Memphis as well.

Memphis has had a rough season, but two-time former King, Tyreke Evans, has made a tremendous impact in his first season with the team. He’s posting big numbers and looks as healthy as he’s been in years.

BETTING LINE 

Grizzlies by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Marc Gasol -- Cauley-Stein is blossoming in his third NBA season. He’s become a reliable scoring and rebounding option for the Kings. He’s improved on the defensive end as well, but guard Gasol is as tough as it gets. The 7-foot-1 Spaniard has an old school game. He can pass, hit you from the outside and work you over in the post. Cauley-Stein will have his hands full with the three-time All-Star big.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 13-31, fifth place in Pacific

Grizzlies: 15-28, fourth place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (left shoulder strain) questionable, PG Frank Mason III (heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) is out for the season.

Grizzlies: C Marc Gasol (illness) questionable, PG Mike Conley (Achilles) out, SG Andrew Harrison (shoulder) questionable, SF Chandler Parsons (knee) out, SF James Ennis (calf) out, .

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Homecoming -- This should be an emotional night for plenty around the Kings team, especially Randolph. The Grizzlies retired the 36-year-old’s No. 50 jersey, making him the first in franchise history to receive the honor. 

Show Improvement -- The Kings are in a funk, but we are seeing steady improvement from plenty of the team’s young players. Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to post up big numbers, including a career-best 25 against the Jazz on Wednesday.

Break the Streak -- A six-game trip is daunting, especially after a rough stretch. If Sacramento can get out of Memphis with a win, it would take plenty of stress off a young team. 

SERIES HISTORY 

These two teams split their season series 2-2 last season, but Memphis went up 1-0 for the 2017-18 campaign with a win at Golden 1 on New Year’s Eve. The Kings hold a 45-39 advantage over the Grizzlies all-time.