Kings learn another lesson in loss to Rockets

Kings learn another lesson in loss to Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- Every game is another opportunity for the Sacramento Kings’ young players to learn. The Kings fell behind by as many as 22 to the high-powered Rockets Sunday afternoon, but they kept fighting. In the end, the playoff bound team from Houston was too much to handle as they came away with the 135-128 victory. 

After playing against a bull in Julius Randle Friday in Los Angeles, rookie Skal Labissiere drew a completely different style of player Sunday at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento native Ryan Anderson torched the rookie in the opening 6:18 of the first quarter, dropping in a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc.

“There’s a level of experience that you have to have,” coach Dave Joerger said of Labissiere. “They’re playing at a doctoral thesis level and here is a young guy in his first year and you’re trying to spit some words out of what coverage we should be in and it just takes experience.”

“It’s not that they’re trying to mess up - they are trying to do the best they can,” Joerger added. 

Joerger went to his bench quick, turning to veteran Anthony Tolliver to stem the tide. When he turned back to Labissiere in the second quarter, the rookie big looked like a completely different player.

Labissiere dropped in 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting in second, helping the Kings avoid the early blowout.

“I was impressed as I always am with him, but he kept attacking offensively,” Joerger said. “If you want to take me out in the deep water and shoot these jumpers, then let’s try to get you down here in the posit. I think he was aggressive.”

The rookie forward continued to plug away in the second half, finishing the night with a team-high 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting. He added six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 31 minutes of action. 

“It’s just learning how to adjust,” Labissiere said. “You play different guys in the league. Guys in the NBA are talented so you’ve just got to figure out how to guard people, make it hard for them at least.”

Labissiere’s experience was a microcosm of the Kings night. Buddy Hield faced off with MVP candidate James Harden and came out on the wrong end of the stat sheet. The rookie shooting guard started off hot, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. And then the Rockets made adjustments, limiting Hield to 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

Harden found a way to keep all of the Kings’ guards off balance, scoring 35 points, handing out 15 assists and grabbing 11 rebounds on his way to his 21st triple-double of the season.

“You learn a lot,” Hield said of the experience. “He’s super talented. One of the best in the league. One of the best scorers. One of the best passers. He’s just one of the best offensive players in the league.”

Willie Cauley-Stein played well, scoring 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. With his guards on skates most of the night trying to stay in front of the Rockets’ guards, big man Clint Capella shot 8-of-8 from the field, finishing with 18 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes of play. 

“Even veteran teams struggle playing against that kind of system and what they’re doing to the rest of the league right now,” Joerger said. “It was a good experience for our guys, and we never quit. We played hard all the way through and I’m proud of our guys for that.”

Sacramento received plenty of contributions from their veterans. Ty Lawson scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists. He broke down the Rockets defense and set up his teammates for easy baskets.

Ben McLemore shook off a tough start to score 18 points on 3-of-7 shooting from long range. Garrett Temple added 13 points and Langston Galloway chipped in 10 off the bench in the loss.

The Kings return to the court Tuesday when they finish up their home schedule against the Phoenix Suns. They’ll face a young, but athletic Suns team that has strung together back-to-back wins after dropping 13 straight. 

Kings add former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek to coaching staff


Kings add former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek to coaching staff

Dave Joerger likes to think outside the box. He’s a coach that loves to talk hoops and he’s always looking for a fresh approach. In preparation for the 2017-18 season, he reached out to friends in the college and high school ranks with the hopes of gleaning a some small bit of information about coaching an extremely young roster. 
When it came time to assemble his staff, Joerger brought back his entire coaching group from last season and even added local product Phil Ricci to the mix to aid in the development of the team’s 10 players with two years of NBA experience or less.
It’s a deep bench of basketball lifers, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. On Friday, that staff grew by one with the announcement that former WNBA player and coach, Jenny Boucek, is coming aboard as an assistant player development coach.
Boucek visited the team multiple times last season and has been a fixture in the Kings practice facility for most of training camp. With a young an inexperienced roster, Joerger and the front office made the decision to bring her on full-time.
“We have a lot of really good young talent that is really hungry to learn and be in the gym,” Boucek told NBC Sports California. “I know a big part of my role is going to be helping to develop this talent, to just work with this staff and to fill in wherever is needed.”
Joerger and Boucek have known each other for years and share a similar passion for game. Over time, they have used each other as sounding boards for ideas and have a strong respect for one another.
Boucek is no stranger to Sacramento. She coached the Monarchs from 2007-2009, compiling a 40-41 record over her two plus seasons with the team and she spent the last three seasons at the helm of the Seattle Storm. 
“I couldn’t be more excited to get back in this basketball city that just loves and lives for basketball and try to bring an exciting team to this fanbase,” Boucek said.
With the hiring, Boucek becomes the third female assistant coach in NBA history, joining Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman. Hammon currently works as an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio and Lieberman spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant for George Karl in Sacramento before taking leave for family reasons last season. 

Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr


Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr

After falling to the Houston Rockets in the home opener, the Sacramento Kings hit the road for a three game trip beginning Friday night in Dallas. They’ll face a Mavericks team that is also looking for their first win of the season following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening.

Dave Joerger’s Kings gave the Rockets all they could handle at Golden 1 Center before an error by the officiating crew cost them a valuable possession late. The effort and intensity was present, but Sacramento’s lack of experience makes late game situations an adventure.

Coach Rick Carlisle is trying to balance the old with the new in Dallas, starting veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Wes Matthews alongside Yogi Ferrell, Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Seven players scored in double-figures in the Mavs opener as they enter the season without a true number one scoring option.


Mavs by 5


De’Aaron Fox vs. Dennis Smith Jr. -- Fox worked his way up the draft board, hearing his name called with the fifth overall selection by Sacramento. He’s the future and maybe even the present for a Kings team looking to rebuild. Smith had to wait a little longer for his moment on draft night. Taken with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the former NC State guard is an incredible athlete and may have found the perfect landing spot for his skill set. Smith sports a 48-inch vertical leap and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. This is the first of many battles between these two top-tier talents.


Kings: 0-1

Mavs: 0-1


Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) is out, PF Zach Randolph (oral surgery) is probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Mavs: G Seth Curry (leg) out, F Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) out


The Kings took the season series over the Mavs last year 2-1. Dallas hold a 92-66 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 75-54 lead during the Sacramento-era.


ALL HANDS ON DECK? - Zach Randolph and Bogdan Bogdanovic missed the opener due to injury. Randolph has had a few days to recover from oral surgery and might be ready in time to retake his starting power forward spot. Bogdanovic is nursing an ankle injury, but is getting close to a return. If Bogdanovic is healthy, he’ll play and possibly even start for Joerger.

WILLIE FIND CONSISTENCY? - Willie Cauley-Stein put up 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the opener. If Randolph returns, Cauley-Stein’s role will change slightly, but the Kings need the same effort and energy every night from their third-year big.

TEMPLE TIME - Garrett Temple struggled with his shot, hitting just 1-of-7 from the field off Joerger’s bench on Wednesday. That didn’t stop the veteran wing from putting on a defensive show. He finished the night with four steals and countless deflections as he faced off with James Harden and Eric Gordon. The young players could learn a lot from the eight-year vet.


“These young guys play hard, they want to be good, they want to win and they want to learn.” -Vince Carter on the Kings’ young core