Kings

Instant Replay: Kings' skid reaches eight games after loss to Nuggets

Instant Replay: Kings' skid reaches eight games after loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- And then it was eight. The Sacramento Kings can’t stop the skid. After dropping the last seven, the Kings looked exhausted against the Denver Nuggets Saturday night at Golden 1 Center, falling by a final of 105-92.

Gary Harris got loose. The veteran shooting guard torched the Kings for 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead the Nuggets.

With Harris bombing away from long range, big man Nikola Jokic put in solid work down low, finishing the night with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Mason Plumlee stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Danilo Gallinari added 15 points and Jamal Murray chipped in 14 points in the win.

Buddy Hield picked up his second straight start and responded with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. The rookie shooting guard has scored in double-figures in all but one of his nine games in a Kings uniform.

Tyreke Evans went into attack mode, scoring 16 points on 2-for-5 shooting from long range. He‘s still working on regaining his explosion, but the former Rookie of the Year is still a load in the open court.

The starting frontcourt did damage for Sacramento. Kosta Koufos started at center and nearly picked up another double-double, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds. Willie Cauley-Stein struggled from the field, but still managed to post 13 points, grab five rebounds and dish out five assists.

Skal Labissiere energized the crowd with a couple of huge dunks. He struggled from the free throw line, but still managed to score seven points and grab five rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Harris took Hield to school. The third-year pro found ways to get open all night long, lighting the rookie up from long range and off the dribble.

TURNING POINT

The Kings hung around for much of the fourth, but Danilo Gallinari dropped in a 3-ball with 4:45 remaining to give the Nuggets a 93-81 lead which sealed the deal.

INJURY UPDATE

Rookie Malachi Richardson is out 4-6 weeks with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Kings finish their three game homestand Monday night when the Orlando Magic swing by Golden 1 Center. Following the Orlando game, Sacramento hits the road for a three game trip beginning Wednesday in Phoenix.

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- Every time the Houston Rockets tried to pull away, the Sacramento Kings answered Wednesday night in the team’s home opener. It was a heavyweight contender throwing body blows at a 100-to-1 underdog riding a huge home crowd advantage.

And then the ref called the fight.

With the Kings trailing 98-95 with 26 seconds remaining, the Rockets attempted to inbounds the ball and George Hill made a play. From the video replay, it appeared that the ball tipped off the fingertips of Houston's Eric Gordon and the nearest official called Kings ball.

Hill and teammate Garrett Temple celebrated the turnover and the sold out crowd went crazy.

The play went under review and not only was the call overturned, but Hill was assessed a personal foul. Gordon went to the line and hit two freebies to give the Rockets a 100-95 lead and effectively ended Sacramento’s chances.

In the confusion of the moment, it turns out that an official on the opposite side of the court called a personal foul and the replay wasn’t to check on possession, but to determine which Kings player would be assessed a personal foul.  

The Kings can’t call shenanigans on the officials, the league has stiff penalties for that. But they seemed just as confused as everyone else in the building when asked about the call during postgame interviews.

“I could have swore that the refs pointed out of bounds, our ball, but they said they called a foul, so it is, what it is,” Hill said following the game.

Hill avoided digging himself a hole with the league and a potential fine as reporters tried to dig deeper. 

Head coach Dave Joerger gave an account of what the officials said following the call, but he too seemed perplexed by the play.

“That was a foul,” Joerger said of what the officials told him on the sidelines. “I adamantly disagreed. They said they called it at the time, which I didn’t see. So that was more my argument than whether it was a foul or not.”

Sacramento continued to compete in the final seconds, but they were forced to foul intentionally down the stretch and the Rockets were able to hold them at bay to come away with the 105-100 victory.

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

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AP

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

Sacramento rebooted the franchise at the trade deadline last season and begin anew this season with veteran additions Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph to compliment a bevy of young players. 

Houston reloaded in the offseason, adding nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and a veteran defenders P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. They put on a show against the Warriors and look like one of the best the Western Conference has to offer once again. 

BETTING LINE 

Rockets by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings defense vs. The 3-pointer -- Houston launched an incredible 180 3-point attempts versus Sacramento last season, hitting a robust 75 (41.7 percent) of those shots. It’s a new-look roster for the Kings, but they’ve had very little time to develop defensive chemistry. Dave Joerger and his staff will game plan to slow the Rockets perimeter game, but Mike D’Antoni has a deep group that comes at you in waves.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 0-0

Rockets: 1-0

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Zach Randolph (tooth) out

Rockets: PG Chris Paul (bruised right knee) questionable

SERIES HISTORY 

The Rockets swept the Kings last season 4-0, including a 135-128 victory in the final week of the season. Houston leads the all-time series 124-88 and they hold an 83-42 advantage during the Sacramento-era. 

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE ROOKIES - The Kings walk into the 2017-18 campaign with five rookies on the roster, four of which should see time early in the season. De’Aaron Fox is the headliner, but don’t be shocked if Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Bogdan Bogdanovic play important roles on this team.

ROTATIONS - With 10 new faces on the roster, Joerger needed more than an abbreviated training camp and six preseason contests. Expect the coaching staff to try different looks throughout the first 20 games of the season as they search for answers.

BALANCING THE ROSTER - Joerger has five veterans and 10 players with two years of experience or less. If he goes with the vets, fans will call for the rookies. If he plays the rookies and the losses stack up, fans will call for his head. It’s an unenviable position that will require patience and a little faith.

QUOTE

“I’m expecting a high-paced game. I feel like our fans are going to come out, they’re going to give us a lot of energy, playing a team as good as Houston is.” -De’Aaron Fox