Kings

With Tyreke back in fold, Kings look to double up on Magic

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With Tyreke back in fold, Kings look to double up on Magic

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With Tyreke Evans back in the lineup and getting the job done from 3-point range, the Sacramento Kings just returned to the win column.

Orlando Magic rookie coach Jacque Vaughn knows that Evans and the Kings are improving from beyond the arc, but he's more concerned about stopping them from getting into the paint.

Sacramento will try to win two in a row for just the second time this season Friday night when the Magic look to bounce back from one of the worst 3-point shooting efforts in franchise history.

After missing the previous two contests with a bruised left knee, Evans hit two late 3s and finished with 23 points Wednesday as the Kings ended a three-game slide with a 107-100 home victory over Toronto.

The fourth-year guard has never been known for his outside touch - he's a career 25.8 percent 3-point shooter - but he's 7 for 15 from beyond the arc while averaging 20.3 points in his last seven games.

"I'm happy for (Evans), especially on his outside shooting," said center DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday. "If Tyreke gets confidence in that shot he's going to be an incredible player."

Getting to the basket with more regularity could also help Evans raise his career-worst 15.5 scoring average. He went to the foul line a season-high 12 times Wednesday - hitting seven - as Sacramento (5-12) shot a season-high 34 free throws.

The Kings, 5-2 when they take 22 or more foul shots, also extended their streak of games with six or more 3s to nine.

Vaughn, though, is focused on protecting the lane, as Sacramento scored 56 points in the paint against the Raptors.

"Our ability to contain penetration - it boils down to that," Vaughn said. "They have guys who can, at the end of the day, break you down one-on-one and score the basketball, whether it's Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, you can go down the line, John Salmons and even Cousins at the center position doing it one-on-one."

The Magic (7-11) don't have the same type of athletes on their team, and the result is a league-low 17.0 free throws per game.

Orlando has taken a different offensive approach under Vaughn, shooting 16.1 3-pointers per game compared to a league-high 27.0 a season ago, but the team's success still has much to do with its ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc.

The Magic are 0-8 when hitting four or fewer 3s after missing 14 of 15 in Wednesday's 87-81 loss at Utah.

It was the lowest 3-point percentage ever by Orlando when it had at least 15 attempts. The team opened its five game trip by hitting 8-of-23 3s against both the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State in a pair of wins.

The Magic have won two straight and seven of eight in this series, averaging 112.0 points during that stretch.

Kings shut down first-round pick Harry Giles for entire 2017-18 season

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USATSI

Kings shut down first-round pick Harry Giles for entire 2017-18 season

SACRAMENTO -- The mystery of Harry Giles has been solved. The Sacramento Kings officially made their decision known Thursday morning that they will redshirt the talented rookie out of Duke University, sitting him out the remaining 38 games of the season. 

It’s probably been the plan all along. Sacramento spent the 20th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft on the 19-year-old, after a full medical review of his previous knee issues. They’ve relied heavily on the medical and science field to come up with an appropriate plan of treatment and chosen a smart, measured approach to his rehabilitation.

Giles is one of six players in the history of the league to attempt to play after tearing his ACL in both knees. The team understood the risks of selecting him coming into the draft and they are hoping their cautious approach will hopefully pay dividends over the course of a long career for Giles.

After consulting multiple experts on bilateral knee injuries, the Kings made the early decision to wait a full year from the date of Giles’ last ACL surgery before allowing him to see unrestricted court time. That date has passed, but without a conventional training camp, Sacramento has chosen to err on the side of caution and prepare Giles for a healthy offseason program and Las Vegas Summer League appearance. 

Earlier this month, the team sent Giles, along with assistant general manager Brandon Williams, to P3 for biometrical and neuromuscular evaluations. According to the team, those tests proved overwhelmingly successful. 

Not only are Giles’ ACLs 100 percent healed, but the the 6-foot-10 forward is showing major signs of improvement in agility, strength and athleticism. According to P3’s testing, Giles is no longer considered an injured player and the team has cleared him for normal duty. 

The former top high school prospect has also added a few pounds of muscle, weighing in at 249 pounds, up from 222 that he was listed at during pre-draft. 

Giles will continue to practice with the team, and in addition, the training and medical staff will work to strengthen his core and leg muscles while keeping close tabs on his progress. 

Sacramento will spend the upcoming months preparing Giles both physically and mentally for the 2018-19 campaign, where they will likely add another lottery selection. He hasn’t had a single setback since joining the club and they would like to continue to build for the future. 

The tests show Giles is an elite athlete. If he can stay healthy and get back to the player arc he showed as a prep athlete, the Kings may have found another piece to the puzzle. They are going to give him every opportunity to get right physically before putting him on an NBA court. 

After getting lunch money stolen again, it's time for the Kings to get nasty

After getting lunch money stolen again, it's time for the Kings to get nasty

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings can take a punch, but can they throw one? In one of the recurring themes of the 2017-18 season, the Kings were too nice Wednesday evening against the Utah Jazz and they got their lunch money stolen.

“I just told them we need to play with more life, we need to play with more athleticism, and we need to play with a lot more nasty,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings 120-105 loss to the Jazz.

The Kings have talent, but so far this season, they are lacking in the nasty department. As the season passes the midway point, opponents continue to look extremely comfortable playing against a Sacramento team that ranks 29th in the league in defensive rating.

Against Utah, it was rookie Donovan Mitchell that dismantled the Kings’ sets. With his shooters dropping in bombs from the outside and his bigs setting picks, the 13th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft looked like a superstar.

“Same thing he’s been doing all year - he’s been scoring the ball,” De’Aaron Fox said of his fellow draft classmate. “That’s what he came out and did today.”

Mitchell came in averaging 18.9 points per game, which is tops amongst rookies. He dropped 34 points on 14-of-19 shooting while dicing up the Kings defense.

“We let them go in the paint so many times,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “That opened some easy buckets for them and some wide open threes.”

Sacramento’s communication breakdowns were obvious. They cut into the Jazz lead on multiple occasions, but then they would leave a shooter open and pay the price.

Rodney Hood scored 25 points shooting over the Kings defense. He knocked down 4-of-9 from behind the arc and added

Joe Ingles chipped in 14 points on 4-of-7 from deep, including three makes in the third quarter as Utah turned the screws on Sacramento.

“I don’t think we are physical enough,” Bogdanovic said. “We’ve got to play tougher and to bring some dirty game on the floor and some smart decisions, like when it’s time to help and when it’s time to not help. We’re still learning, we’re still new.”

Bogdanovic held his own against the Jazz, scoring a career-high 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting and a perfect 6-for-6 from behind the arc. Willie Cauley-Stein added a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Call it a lack of energy. Call it nasty or dirty. The Kings need to find a way to make their opponent feel them more on the court or it’s going to be a very long final 38 games to the season.

After dropping six straight, it doesn’t get any easier for the Kings. They embark on a six-game trip beginning Friday in Memphis. Maybe they can find themselves on the road.