NBA Gameday: Youth takes center stage against Suns

NBA Gameday: Youth takes center stage against Suns

UPDATE (5:26pm PT on Wednesday): Roughly 90 minutes before tip-off, the Kings announced that PG Darren Collison and SF Anthony Tolliver will miss Wednesday's game due to planned rest. SG Tyreke Evans is listed as probable with a sore left ankle.


After dropping eight straight games, the Sacramento Kings bounced back on Monday night against the Orlando Magic, coming away with the 120-115 win at Golden 1 Center. They travel to Phoenix trying to make it two in a row Wednesday evening against the young, but erratic Suns.

Seven players scored in double-figures for the Kings against Orlando, including a team-high 19 from both Darren Collison and Anthony Tolliver. The young core of Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere all started for Sacramento and chipped in a combined 46 points and 22 rebounds in the victory.

Phoenix is buoyed by a pair of scoring guards in Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker. Bledsoe bull rushes at opposing defenses, while Booker loves the 3-ball. Each player is averaging 21.1 points per game on the season for a team that sits near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. 


Suns by 6


Kings: 26-41, third place Pacific

Suns: 22-45, fourth place Pacific


Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss -- Vlade Divac drew the ire of plenty of fans and NBA talking heads when he traded down from the the no. 8 spot in the 2016 NBA Draft in a deal with Phoenix that included the No. 13 and No. 28 picks plus the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. The jury is still out on Georgios Papagiannis, the 13th overall selections, and Bogdanovic is currently playing for Fenerbahce of the Turkish league, but the 28th pick yielded Labissiere, who is quickly showing his value. 

Since the All-Star break, Labissiere is averaging 8.5 points and 5.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game. Divac passed on Sacramento-native Marquese Chriss, who is averaging 8.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game on the season for Phoenix. Both of these young forwards have tremendous potential going forward and should see each other plenty of times over the next decade.


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

Suns: C Alex Len (hip) questionable, F Dragan Bender (ankle) out.


The season series between these two teams is all tied up at 1-1. Phoenix leads the all-time series 131-88 and they hold an 84-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.


“It’s a good group and they get along and they go play hard. That’s kind of the identity that we’re hoping to have going forward. Whoever plays, this is how we do it here. We have great fans, a wonderful arena and we go out and and we play really hard.” -Dave Joerger following the win over Orlando

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?


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. 


Rockets by 8


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.


Kings: 0-0

Rockets: 1-0


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

Rockets: PG Chris Paul (bruised right knee) questionable


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. 


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.


“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