Opportunity lost. The Sacramento Kings had a game handed to them on a silver platter Monday night in Phoenix and they couldn’t take advantage. Playing for a new head coach and without their star point guard, the Suns manhandled the Kings early and held them off late to come away with the 117-115 win and pick up their first win of the season.
Garrett Temple is known for his defensive prowess, but on Monday night in Phoenix, he was an offensive juggernaut. With the Kings falling behind early, the veteran wing hit 6-of-8 from long range to post 23 and keep the Kings in the ballgame late. He had a look at 3-ball to win it at the buzzer, but came up short.
It took Bogdan Bogdanovic less than a quarter to get comfortable with the NBA game. Phoenix drafted the rookie with the 27th pick back in 2014, but they abandoned their efforts to bring him over from Europe. He lit the Suns up 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half, but struggled to get it going after the break.
With Bogdanovic manning the two, fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox put on the jets at the point guard spot. Fox attacked Phoenix on both ends of the floor, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Skal Labissiere scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds off Joerger’s bench. Willie Cauley-Stein added 11 points, four assists and four rebounds, while rookie Justin Jackson chipped in a career-best 10 points.
Buddy Hield couldn’t buy a bucket early, but his defense fueled his offensive in the second half. Hield grabbed a career-high five steals and added 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
Sacramento’s Marquese Chriss did damage against his hometown team. The second-year forward dropped in 19 points and six rebounds before fouling out late.
Devin Booker added 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Mike James finished with 18 points and seven assists starting in place of the exiled Eric Bledsoe and rookie Josh Jackson came off the bench to score 15.
Temple caught fire and the Kings kept feeding him. Not known for his offense, the veteran wing went off in a wild game at the Talking Stick Resort Arena
Phoenix put the Kings on blast to start the game, outscoring the Kings starters 36-17 in the first 12 minutes of action. Dave Joerger went to his bench in the second and the combination of Fox, Bogdanovic and Labissiere went to work. The trio helped cut the Suns lead from 21 in the first quarter to eight before the half. They stole the momentum of the game.
Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic returned from a sprained right ankle to make his NBA debut. Labissiere tweaked his right ankle in the fourth quarter, but was able to walk off under his own power and returned to the game late.
The Kings return home to host DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday at Golden 1 Center. They’ll stick around Sacramento to face the Washington Wizards on Sunday before heading back out on the road for three games.
The Sacramento Kings finish their three game road trip Monday in Phoenix. Waiting for them is a team in complete disarray. After dropping the first three games of the season, Phoenix dumped head coach Earl Watson Sunday afternoon and are reportedly in trade talks to deal starting point guard Eric Bledsoe. Jay Triano will act as the interim head coach, but he’s taking over a runaway train.
Sacramento lost to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday evening to drop to 1-2 on the season. De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere came to play, but the rest of the roster struggled with their shot as the Kings finished with just 79 points on 36.5 percent shooting.
The Suns have been outscored by more than 30 points per game in their three contests this season. They have lost games by 48 and 42 points already and almost every player on the roster has underperformed.
Kings by 2
WHERE THEY STAND
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss -- Labissiere has been a breath of fresh air early in the season, posting solid numbers across the board as Zach Randolph’s backup. He posted a career-high 32-point, 11-rebound game against Chriss last season, which left a lasting impression. Chriss is off to a slow start, but he has plenty of potential. The Sacramento-native gets up and down the floor and loves the over the top block.
Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) probable, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) out.
Suns: PG Eric Bledsoe (team decision) out, SF Jared Dudley (toe) questionable, PG Brandon Knight (ACL tear) out for the season, G Davon Reed (knee) out, PF Alan Williams (knee) out.
Sacramento dominated the season-series 3-1 last season, including a 129-104 win over the Suns in the finale. Phoenix leads the all-time series 131-90 and they hold an 84-51 advantage during the Sacramento-era.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
BOGDAN’S DEBUT -- The Kings have used the cautious approach to Bogdan Bogdanovic’s ankle injury. He’s played a ton of basketball between league play and EuroBasket overseas and there is no reason to rush him into action. He’ll likely suit up to play Monday against the team that drafted him in the 2014 NBA Draft. Expect to see lots of the 25-year-old Serbian over the next few months. Word around the team is that he is one of the best players on the squad.
MORE FOX -- Sacramento hit a homerun with the addition of De’Aaron Fox on draft night. The rookie has put on a show in his first three games and is pushing coach Dave Joerger for more playing time. The Kings have plenty of guards and wings, but there hasn’t been a player that can stay in front of Fox.
REBOUND FROM A STINKER -- The Kings couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat against the Nuggets. Playing at elevation is tough, but scoring 79 points is unacceptable. Sacramento has a chance to improve to 2-2 on the season in Phoenix before returning home to face DeMarcus Cousins. A 2-1 road trip would go a long ways towards building the confidence of a young squad.
“Whatever coach wants me to do, that’s what I’m going to do out there. I’m just going to go out there and play hard and help this team get a win.” --Skal Labissiere