Kings

NBA Gameday: Kings have solid shot at ending eight-game skid

NBA Gameday: Kings have solid shot at ending eight-game skid

UPDATE (6:09pm PT on Monday): About 90 minutes before tip-off, the Kings announced that Arron Affalo, Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson will not play (rest) and Tyreke Evans will sit out due to a sore left ankle.

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SACRAMENTO -- Looking to get back in the win column, the Sacramento Kings face off with the Orlando Magic Monday night at Golden 1 Center with the hopes of snapping their season-long eight-game losing streak.

Coach Dave Joerger has shown restraint with regards to his young players, but he’s loosened the reigns of late. Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield and Skal Labissiere have each earned major rotational minutes down the stretch as the Kings look to the future.

Orlando sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Scoring has been an issue all season long for Frank Vogel and his young core. The Magic rank 29th in points per game at 99.7 a night and they also sit at the bottom in the NBA in 3-point percentage, knocking down just 32.4 percent from long range.  

OPENING LINE

Kings by 1

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Buddy Hield vs. Evan Fournier -- Hield is finding his rhythm on the offensive end since coming over from the Pelicans at the deadline. Through nine games, he’s averaging 13.9 points per game on 52.3 percent from the floor and 51.2 percent from long range in 25.9 minutes a night. Fournier is a tough cover on most nights, leading the Magic in scoring at 16.8 points per game. Hield has struggled on the defensive end, but if he can match Fournier’s scoring output, the Kings have a solid shot of snapping their losing streak.   

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 25-41, third place in Pacific

Magic: 24-33, last place in Southeast

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Magic: SG Jodie Meeks (thumb) out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Magic owns a 1-0 advantage in the season series, knocking off the Kings at the Amway Center on Nov. 3 by a final of 102-94. Sacramento holds a 28-26 lead all-time over Orlando.

QUOTE

“Buddy has come in and played well, even with all the hype and stuff. He’s handled it like a pro and played his game. Skal has come in and really done a great job providing energy, but also showing his offensive ability, obviously, his athletic ability, being able to rebound. Willie’s been playing well the whole season and he’s starting to get consistent in that role. It’s really good to see these young guys coming into their own.” -Garrett Temple on the young players earning their minutes

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