Kings

Youth movement on full display in Kings' skid-busting win vs Magic

Youth movement on full display in Kings' skid-busting win vs Magic

SACRAMENTO -- With playoff chances a distant memory, fans want to see the young players take the court. That is exactly what they got Monday night at Golden 1 Center. The Kings rested four of their veterans, leaving two rookies and a second-year player to start. Somehow the still found a way to drop a sputtering Orlando Magic team by a final of 120-115.

“We needed it for sure,” rookie guard Buddy Hield said of the win. “Confidence, that’s all we needed, this helps with our confidence. As a young team, you just want to keep your head down all the time, you want to keep building.”

Hield scored 17 points with a variety of runners in the lane and a pair of 3-pointers. In 10 games with the Kings, he’s posted double-digit scoring all but once and he is averaging 14.2 points per game.

Second-year big Willie Cauley-Stein destroyed the Magic’s frontline in the pick-and-roll. The 7-footer finished with 18 points on 9-of-16 shooting and added seven rebounds. Since the All-Star break, Cauley-Stein is averaging 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for Dave Joerger.

Forward Skal Labissiere’s length and athleticism were on full display as the 20-year-old big flew all over the court in his 20 minutes of action. He went toe-to-toe with one of the most athletic players in the game in Aaron Gordon and came away with 11 points, seven rebounds and a career-high four blocks.

“I like playing with him, he makes good plays and he’s young, so he’s going to learn not to make the bonehead plays,” Cauley-Stein said of his fellow Kentucky alum. “We all go through it. Once he gets that under his belt, he’s going to be a hell of a player in this league.”

Even seldom used rookie, Georgios Papagiannis held his own in a career-high 12 minutes of action.

With just nine players in uniform, it took a team effort for Sacramento to snap their eight-game losing streak. While the young players were on full display, the five healthy veterans that saw action also helped out.

“It’s a good group and they get along and they go play hard,” Joerger said during post game.”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.”

Seven players scored in double-figures for Sacramento. It was a free flowing offensive explosion, that included 16 made 3-pointers and a stellar 53.7 percent shooting percentage overall.

Darren Collison broke down the Magic defense and found Cauley-Stein for dunks at the rim. It was the second game of 10 or more assists in the last three contests for the Kings starting point guard. He’s building a chemistry with Cauley-Stein on the floor that wasn’t there early in the season.

“That’s that trust,” Cauley-Stein said. “Whenever you need an outlet, throw that thing to the rim, I’m going to go get it. I’m not going to let you get a turnover.”

When Orlando took away the roll option, Collison found the Kings’ perimeter players for open 3-pointers. The veteran point guard finished the night with 19 points, 13 assists and three steals.

“Offensively, we did a great job of spreading the ball around and helping each other score,” Garrett Temple said.

Veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver got hot from long range, hitting 5-of-7 from deep for 19 points. Temple knocked down two 3-pointers as well on his way to 14 points. Ben McLemore hit 3-of-6 from long range for 14 points and Langston Galloway came off the Kings bench to drop in two makes from behind the arc.

With the win, the Kings improved to 26-41 on the season. The losing streak is in the rear window and they take their show on the road beginning Wednesday in Phoenix. With only 15 games remaining in the season, the youth movement is in full-effect in Sacramento.

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