Kings

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Kings Summer League loss to Lakers

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Kings Summer League loss to Lakers

LAS VEGAS, NV --  The Lakers pulled the plug and the ballyhooed matchup between Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox Monday night. Los Angeles chose to sit their star young point guard, which opened the door for Sacramento to pick up their first win during the 2017 Summer League schedule.  But that’s not what happened. Los Angeles jumped all over the Kings early, leading by as many as 28. Sacramento made a late run, but fell by a final of 95-92.

-- Frank Mason is finding his stride. The former Kansas Jayhawk star looked like the little engine that could against the Lakers. He broke down Los Angeles’ defense and found open shooters. With others struggling, the second-rounder gave the Kings a boost with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds off the bench.

-- Buddy Hield is all over the board. After going cold in games 1 and 2, Hield lit the Lakers up for two 3-pointers early. And then he forced the action. He’s put on himself to have a big Summer League appears to be wearing on the second-year guard. He caught fire late, knocking down four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to finish with 22 points.

-- Justin Jackson is a nice asset to have. In today’s NBA, it’s refreshing to see a player who can play without the ball in his hands. After going 0-of-8 from long range on Sunday, the 22-year-old forward finished with 16 points on 7-for-16 from field. While he shot just 2-of-6 from deep, he plays the game under control and with confidence. That third year at UNC is paying off early.

-- De’Aaron Fox knows how to silence a crowd. With Laker fans chanting “over-rated” in the first half, Fox ran right by his defender for a lay-up. There might not be a faster player in the league. He needs to get his teammates involved, but Kings fans should be excited about their prized top five pick.

-- Ignoring your bigs is ill-advised. Georgios Papagiannis has struggled big time in Las Vegas and Skal Labissiere has been a non-factor in game 3. Sacramento over-dribbled on the perimeter and forced up bad shots, limiting their starting power forward and center to a combined nine shots, none of which found the bottom of the net.

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.

“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.

Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.

“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”

On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.

Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.

The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.

It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.

“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”

To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.

“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”

Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.

“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”

The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.

It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings

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USATSI

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings

Michael Malone won't be on the sideline when his Nuggets take on his former team on Monday night.

The NBA announced Monday afternoon that Malone has been suspended without pay for the game against the Kings.

The suspension stems from Malone "entering the court, halting play and making contact with a game official" during Denver's game against the Lakers on Sunday. The incident occurred midway through the second quarter.

Malone was hired as head coach of the Kings prior to the 2013-14 season. He was fired just 24 games into the 2014-15 season.

Coverage of the Nuggets and Kings gets underway at 6:30pm on NBC Sports California and streaming on the NBC Sports App.