NBA Gameday: Young Kings look to kick Spurs while they are down

NBA Gameday: Young Kings look to kick Spurs while they are down

The Sacramento Kings struggled Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, dropping their 42nd game of the season. Sunday’s task isn’t any easier as they travel to San Antonio to face the star-studded Spurs on the second night of a back-to-back.

First round pick Georgios Papagiannis had a breakout 14-point, 11-rebounds performance against the Thunder, setting new career-highs in both stats. The 19-year-old 7-footer out of Greece had played just 53 total minutes on the season before registering 22 against Steven Adams and the OKC frontline.

The Spurs are fresh off a 104-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday and they currently trail the Golden State Warriors by 2.5 games for the best record in the Western Conference. It’s a team built for a long playoff run centered around reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and big man LaMarcus Aldridge.  

Spurs by 14.5

Youth vs. Experience -- The Kings roll into the AT&T Center with three rookies and a second-year pro playing rotational minutes. While Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere, Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein have talent, they lack the experience of the Spurs veteran lineup. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have played together for the last 15 years and Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills and Danny Green have played six or more seasons in San Antonio.

Kings: 27-42, third place in Pacific

Spurs: 52-16, first place in Southwest

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

Spurs: PG Dejounte Murray (groin) and SG Manu Ginobili (rest) are out.

The Spurs have won nine straight over the Kings, including a 3-0 lead in the season series this year. During the Sacramento-era, San Antonio holds an 86-39 advantage and they lead the Kings 114-55 all-time.

“Because I couldn’t get any playing time here, it was the best thing for me to through the whole year (in the D-League). It was a great opportunity for me. Great coaches, great players, great teammates, actually. They helped me everyday get better.” -Papagiannis on his experience with the Reno Bighorns

Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list


Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO -- Moving on up. Vince Carter came into Monday evening’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons needing just five points to surpass Patrick Ewing for 22nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He got that and a little more.

Carter, 41, picked off a Pistons pass in the second quarter and hammered down a breakaway dunk to score his first two points of the evening. He knocked down a jumper in the lane before halftime to get within one point of Ewing and then moved ahead of the 7-footer with a 3-pointer in the third quarter.

The 20-year NBA veteran now sits at 24,817 points. He is 375 points behind the great Jerry West’s 25,192, who currently sits in 21st place on the all-time list.

Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons


Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons

SACRAMENTO -- It’s time for some home cooking. The Sacramento Kings open a six-game homestand Monday night at Golden 1 Center. They’ll host a struggling Detroit Pistons team that has lost three straight and seven of their last eight.

The Kings battled the Utah Jazz all the way down the wire Saturday evening at Vivint Smart Home Arena, before falling in the final minute. Buddy Hield put up 20-plus points for his third straight game to lead Sacramento.

Detroit looked like a playoff team for much of the season and then the wheels fell off their bus. They have plenty of talent, but so far, they are struggling to find chemistry since acquiring All-Star Blake Griffin at the deadline.

Pistons by 3.5

Skal Labissiere vs. Blake Griffin -- The Kings have struggled to contain Griffin throughout his career. Whether he starts or not, second-year big Skal Labissiere is likely to see plenty of time against the high-scoring power forward. Labissiere is averaging 11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 minutes a game in March. He needs to move his feet and avoid foul trouble against Griffin.

Kings: 23-48, fourth place in Pacific

Pistons: 30-39, fourth place in Central

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Pistons: PG Reggie Jackson (ankle) out, PF Jon Leuer (ankle) out.

Decisions, Decisions -- With Bogdanovic out for the evening, Dave Joerger has a tough choice to make. Does he elevate Hield into the starting lineup and disrupt his bench unit? Or does he start veteran Garrett Temple alongside De’Aaron Fox. Hield has earned a look with the starters, but he’s on fire with the second team.

Keep Fighting -- Plenty of fans want the Kings to lay down and preserve their spot in the NBA’s Draft Lottery. The Kings are trying to build a winning culture around a group of young players. They are developing an identity as the season heads towards its conclusion and there is no reason to let up.

Shoot the 3-ball -- The Kings trail only the Golden State Warriors in 3-point percentage. They hit 14-of-21 from behind the arc against the Jazz, but that’s not enough. The goal should be 30 threes per game from here on out. The team has the shooters, they just need to hoist it up more often.

The Pistons lead the season series 1-0 and are looking for the sweep. Detroit holds a 134-119 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 37-26 edge during the Sacramento-era.