Rewind: Early-season frustrations begin brewing for Kings

Rewind: Early-season frustrations begin brewing for Kings

It was an ugly night in Milwaukee. The Sacramento Kings limped into the Bradley Center Saturday night and the upstart Bucks tagged them for a 26-point drubbing. Sacramento is now 0-4 on their five-game road trip and just 2-5 on the season after the 117-91 loss

The Kings came into the game knowing they were facing an uphill battle. With second-leading scorer Rudy Gay on the sidelines, they needed multiple people to step forward. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. 

“We’ve got to stop a slide, you know,” forward Omri Casspi, who got the start in Gay’s absence, said following the game. “It felt like they were playing and we didn’t have a pop to our game. A good team will take advantage of that.”

Trends are beginning to form with this team as they limp through their early season schedule. For the second straight game and fourth time in seven starts, the Kings were outrebounded by their opponent, this time by a 53-36 advantage. They’ve tied the rebounding battle twice and only outrebounded an opponent one time. 

Hiding in those 53 rebounds for Milwaukee are 17 offensive boards, which led to 18 second-chance points for the Bucks. Even when the Kings got defensive stops, the ball seemed to bounce the Bucks way.

Plenty of those points came from behind the arc, where the Kings once again got torched. Mirza Teletovic dropped in 7-of-9 from deep as Joerger’s team looked a step slow on the perimeter. The Bucks hit 14-of-33 overall from the 3-point line as Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates broke the Kings down off the dribble and then kicked to open shooters around the arc.  

“We’re getting our heads down when a team makes a run, especially on the road,” Casspi said. “They made some tough shots in the first half. They made long 3’s.”

Sacramento turned the ball over 15 times as a team, but 12 of those miscues were on Bucks steals, many of which led to baskets in transition. Milwaukee scored 29 points off Sacramento mishandles and they outscored the Kings 26-1 on fastbreak points. 

Milwaukee is a long and athletic team and the Kings dribbled into the teeth of their defense on countless occasions. The result was often a poke away that led to transition. 

Frustrations are clearly mounting for the Kings. After a 2-1 start to the season, they have let opportunities slip through their fingers. The four-game skid is testing a new team early in the campaign and they still have one more road game to play on Sunday in Toronto before heading back to home. 

“We’ve got to stay together,” Dave Joerger told reporters following the game. “We’ve got to stay positive. We need some life. Our bench needs some life. Our guys on the floor need some life.”

There is no word on how long Gay might be out of action, but the Kings need him and his 22.5 points per game if they hope to climb out of their current spiral. 

Rookies get some burn

Joerger searched high and low for that life on Saturday night, even turning to all three of his rookie first-round picks as the game spun out of control. 

Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis made their NBA debuts and Malachi Richardson picked up game action for the second time in the young season. Labissiere was aggressive, showing the promise that people behind the scenes in Sacramento have been raving about for the last few months. 

The 20-year-old big played 15 minutes off the bench for Joerger, scoring eight points on 3-of-5 shooting while grabbing three rebounds. The 6-foot-11 Haitian has a smooth stroke from the perimeter, but needs to continue to get stronger to compete at the NBA level.

Papagiannis looked a bit out of sorts, picking up three fouls in six minutes of action. He had a nice dunk late in the game and grabbed his first NBA rebound. 

Richardson has been competing and often times beating his veteran teammates in 3-point shootouts following practice. He went 1-for-3 from long range for three points in six minutes. 

Following the game, Joerger was asked if he was looking at this young group to maybe find a spark going forward.

“No, I was just trying to manage playing a first of a back-to-back when we’re down 30,” Joerger said. “At that point, you’re just trying to get guys better and develop some guys.” 

Don’t expect to see these three very often. The plan is to groom the trio in Reno under Bighorns coach Darrick Martin for much of the season.

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

SACRAMENTO -- Gavin Maloof once described a potential downtown Sacramento arena as “a beacon of light, shining bright.” Vivek Ranadivé likened the idea of Golden 1 Center as the modern town square, cathedral or communal hearth.

On Friday, Ranadivé might have finally found the best way to describe his $500-plus million arena in the center of Sacramento’s downtown core. Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Ranadivé said, "you can't always dictate what the stories are that are being told around the fireplace."

Thousands of protesters surrounded Ranadivé’s fireplace on Thursday evening. They locked arms and barred fans from coming in the building as the Kings faced the Atlanta Hawks.

In one night, Golden 1 Center was transformed from the home of the Kings, to something much more. It became the meeting place for the protesters to vent their frustrations after the officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African American from South Sacramento.

The Kings’ first reaction was to protect the fans that had entered the building. They locked down the arena and cleared everyone from the massive windows that highlight the grand entrance. The limited number of fans allowed in the building were treated to seat upgrades and unlimited free food.

After securing the safety of the fans inside, the team chose a specific course of action. Instead of pointing fingers at protesters who likely cost the franchise hundreds of thousands of dollars, they allowed Golden 1 Center to become the heart of Sacramento.

It’s not always going to be about basketball or concerts or Disney on Ice. For Golden 1 Center to become what Ranadivé envisions, it has to be a place for everyone.

Instead of shunning the protest and turning their ire towards the thousands outside, Ranadivé had his defining moment, not just as an owner, but as a leader in the Sacramento community.

“The Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that,” Ranadivé said from center court. “We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.”

His postgame speech was humble and showed a different side of the Kings’ Chairman. It was also a moment for the franchise to become part of a larger conversation that is facing nearly every community in America.

To turn a blind eye to social injustice and civil unrest would violate the spirit of what Golden 1 Center was created for. If it is truly the fireplace of Sacramento, then there has to be an open invitation - not just for basketball, and not just for protests, but for all that a community has to give.

The Kings aren’t asking for games to be interrupted on a regular basis. But the team’s handling of the situation has opened the door for Golden 1 Center to become the communal meeting place they hoped it would be when they broke ground.

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins reportedly reached out to Stephon Clark's family and offered to cover the cost of his a funeral, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones

Sacramento police shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old African-American father of two, on Sunday while he was holding a cellphone in the backyard of his grandmother's home. Clark was unarmed. 

During his six-and-a-half year tenure in Sacramento, Cousins was not only the face of the Kings on the court, but the face of outreach efforts off of it. He paid for the funeral of Sacramento-area high school football player Jaulon "JJ" Clavo, who was shot in 2015, and ran free children's basketball camps for the city's children during the summer.

He continued to run a camp last summer following a midseason trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, and has spoken at length about how much he treasures maintaining strong ties to Sacramento. He told The Sacramento Bee last February that he "still consider[s Sacramento] a home."

“It’s very important to me,” Cousins told The New Orleans Advocate in October. “I’ve built relationships in a lot of the different places I’ve been. My biggest thing is helping those kids and helping families in need. I was once in their position, and it would’ve done wonders if I could’ve had a little bit of help coming up. I’m just doing my part.”

Bodycam footage from the officer-involved shooting was released on Wednesday, setting off protests on Thursday. Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 5 both ways, according to NPR, before locking arms and surrounding the Golden 1 Center ahead of Hawks-Kings that night. Those protests delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes, and an estimated 15,000 fans were unable to enter the arena.