Gameday: Emotional 2017 finale for a pair of Kings vs Grizzlies


Gameday: Emotional 2017 finale for a pair of Kings vs Grizzlies

SACRAMENTO -- Which Kings team shows up? After a big win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, followed by a loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday evening, Sacramento draws a Memphis Grizzlies team playing on the second night of a back-to-back on Sunday evening.

Seven players scored in double-figures against the Suns, including a team-high 14 from Zach Randolph. But the Kings struggled on the glass and couldn’t get stops in crunch time as they let a winnable game slip away on their home floor.

Memphis got a front row seat to Steph Curry’s return to the court on Saturday. The two-time MVP rained down from the perimeter, hitting 10-of-13 triples in the Warriors 141-128 win over the Grizz. Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans put up big numbers, but it was all Golden State.  

Kings by 3

George Hill vs. Tyreke Evans -- Hill has been up and down all season long for Sacramento. If the Kings hope to come away with a win, they need their $20 million man to play big against Evans. The two-time former King is having a revival in his first year with the Grizzlies. Evans is posting 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 30.8 minutes a night for Memphis. He may have found a home after bouncing around a bit over the last few years.

Kings: 12-23, fourth place in Pacific

Grizzlies: 11-25, last place in Southwest

Kings: PG De’Aaron Fox (thigh tear) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) is out until January at the earliest.

Grizzlies: PG Mike Conley (Achilles) out, G Wayne Selden (quad) out, SF Chandler Parsons (rest) sat out Friday’s loss to Golden State and his status is unknown.

Just another game? -- The Kings are chalked full of former Grizzlies, including Zach Randolph, Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos, as well as head coach Dave Joerger. This is the first time Z-Bo will face his former club since leaving for Sacramento over the summer. Eight seasons is long time to spend with one franchise in the modern NBA. It should be an emotional evening.

To Skal or not to Skal -- After three games on the shelf, second-year big man Skal Labissiere played 15 minutes Friday night against the Suns. He produced 12 points and four rebounds, but his spot in the rotation is anything but guaranteed. Will he see court time or head back to the bench?

Stop the rollercoaster, it’s time to get off -- The Kings looked bad in their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. They looked like world beaters against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday and then they came back to Earth against the Suns Friday night at Golden 1 Center. Consistently inconsistent is the only description that fits for this club right now.

These two teams split their season series 2-2 last season. The Kings hold a 45-38 advantage over the Grizzlies all-time.  

“It’s a game I look forward to, of course. I spent almost a decade there. All my friends on the team - it’s going to be fun.” -Zach Randolph on playing the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time since leaving for Sacramento

After getting lunch money stolen again, it's time for the Kings to get nasty

After getting lunch money stolen again, it's time for the Kings to get nasty

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings can take a punch, but can they throw one? In one of the recurring themes of the 2017-18 season, the Kings were too nice Wednesday evening against the Utah Jazz and they got their lunch money stolen.

“I just told them we need to play with more life, we need to play with more athleticism, and we need to play with a lot more nasty,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings 120-105 loss to the Jazz.

The Kings have talent, but so far this season, they are lacking in the nasty department. As the season passes the midway point, opponents continue to look extremely comfortable playing against a Sacramento team that ranks 29th in the league in defensive rating.

Against Utah, it was rookie Donovan Mitchell that dismantled the Kings’ sets. With his shooters dropping in bombs from the outside and his bigs setting picks, the 13th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft looked like a superstar.

“Same thing he’s been doing all year - he’s been scoring the ball,” De’Aaron Fox said of his fellow draft classmate. “That’s what he came out and did today.”

Mitchell came in averaging 18.9 points per game, which is tops amongst rookies. He dropped 34 points on 14-of-19 shooting while dicing up the Kings defense.

“We let them go in the paint so many times,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “That opened some easy buckets for them and some wide open threes.”

Sacramento’s communication breakdowns were obvious. They cut into the Jazz lead on multiple occasions, but then they would leave a shooter open and pay the price.

Rodney Hood scored 25 points shooting over the Kings defense. He knocked down 4-of-9 from behind the arc and added

Joe Ingles chipped in 14 points on 4-of-7 from deep, including three makes in the third quarter as Utah turned the screws on Sacramento.

“I don’t think we are physical enough,” Bogdanovic said. “We’ve got to play tougher and to bring some dirty game on the floor and some smart decisions, like when it’s time to help and when it’s time to not help. We’re still learning, we’re still new.”

Bogdanovic held his own against the Jazz, scoring a career-high 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting and a perfect 6-for-6 from behind the arc. Willie Cauley-Stein added a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Call it a lack of energy. Call it nasty or dirty. The Kings need to find a way to make their opponent feel them more on the court or it’s going to be a very long final 38 games to the season.

After dropping six straight, it doesn’t get any easier for the Kings. They embark on a six-game trip beginning Friday in Memphis. Maybe they can find themselves on the road.

Gameday: De'Aaron Fox vs Donovan Mitchell in rookie showdown


Gameday: De'Aaron Fox vs Donovan Mitchell in rookie showdown

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings return to Golden 1 Center for a one game stop before heading out for a season-long six game road trip. They’ll face a struggling Utah Jazz team that is 4-15 over their last 19 games.

Sacramento has gone young, choosing rotate veteran players for the final 40 games of the season. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter received the dreaded DNP-CD on Monday in OKC. Who will sit Wednesday at G1C?

Utah had the making of a contending team before Gordon Hayward and George Hill departed via free agency. They are rebuilding around rookie Donovan Mitchell, who has been nothing short of phenomenal in his first 41 games as a pro.


Jazz by 4


De’Aaron Fox vs. Donovan Mitchell -- Fox is showing that he’s ready to take a major step for Sacramento. In seven games since returning from injury, the Kentucky product is posting 14 points and 6.4 assists and is now averaging in double-figures on the season. Mitchell has the run of the house in Utah and he’s taken full advantage. The 13th overall selection from the 2017 NBA Draft is in a dogfight for rookie of the year honors, scoring a huge 18.6 points in 31.4 minutes per game for Utah.


Kings: 13-30, fifth place in Pacific

Jazz: 17-26, fifth place in Northwest


Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (left shoulder strain) out, PG Frank Mason III (heel) out, F Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Jazz: C Rudy Gobert (knee) out, SF Thabo Sefolosha (knee) out, Dante Exum (shoulder) out.


Take Advantage of the Opportunity -- Sacramento’s youth movement is in full swing, but it comes with a bit of pressure. The 25 and under crowd has a 40 game audition to show that they are NBA regulars. Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson have struggled to get consistent minutes, but when they get a chance, they need to stay aggressive and follow the game plan.

Show up at Home -- The Kings are about to embark on a six game road trip across the country beginning Friday in Memphis. It’s a one game homestand, but still an opportunity to build some momentum heading into a long stretch away.  

Snap the Streak -- Sacramento’s  lost five straight and 10 of their last 12 games. Utah is scuffling as well. If the Kings bring energy early, they might be able to ride the wave of the Golden 1 Center crowd and get back in the left hand column.


The Jazz took the season series 3-1 over the Kings last season. Utah leads the all-time series 102-82 and holds a 79-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.


"Going forward, what I'm going to do is, we're going to play a rotation where two of our five veterans are going to be out every night. It might be some times there'll be three. It's an opportunity for some other guys to get some minutes as we go throughout the course of the season.” -Dave Joerger on the Kings’ youth movement