Sacramento Kings

Fatigue a factor as the Kings fall to the Raptors


Fatigue a factor as the Kings fall to the Raptors

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are young and energetic, but they are still learning how to play a full 48 minutes. Against a veteran team like the Raptors, that’s not going to work.

The Kings came out of the gate slow, allowing the Raptors to score the first 13 points of the afternoon. After the second unit fought their way back into the game to take a 29-28 lead, Sacramento once again let up, falling behind 54-48 at the half.

Sacramento made runs at Toronto, but they never got closer that seven points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors pulled away for the 102-87 victory.

There are plenty of reasons for the team’s inconsistent effort. It doesn’t matter who Dave Joerger drops into the starting lineup, they tend to flounder.

De’Aaron Fox started alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic in the backcourt and struggled against veteran Kyle Lowry. The rookie began the game 0-for-4 before hitting 3-of-4 in the fourth quarter. In addition to the shooting woes, Fox turned the ball over a career-high seven times, including six in the first half.

“It’s frustrating - we all have those games, but (we) just have to get back into practice, focus on taking care of the ball and just look forward to playing Phoenix the next game,” Fox said.

Joerger pointed to the Kings’ heavy travel schedule early as a possible culprit for the sloppy ball handling.

“Sometimes that can be general fatigue,” Joerger said. “You know, traveling around, flying around, playing a bunch of games and you’re only [a] 19-year-old.”

Fellow rookie point guard Frank Mason III struggled as well. Mason didn’t turn the ball over, but he shot just 1-of-10 from the field to finish the afternoon with six points and three assists.

Buddy Hield has been electric for Sacramento since moving to the second unit. He started the game hot, hitting his first six shots. But when the Raptors tightened up the defense, Hield not only missed shots, but he made mistakes.

Hield finished the night 7-of-13 from the field, but he turned the ball over six times as he forced the action.

It was a learning experience for the young Kings. The Raptors have posted 48 wins or more four straight seasons. They currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference and there is little doubt that they’ll make a fifth straight playoff appearance.

Lowry, along with fellow veterans DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka combined to score 60 of the Raptors 102 points. When they needed a shot to put the Kings away, they got it.

With the loss, Sacramento dropped to 8-18 on the season. They’ll return to Golden 1 Center Tuesday to face the Phoenix Suns and it sounds like they should have Willie Cauley-Stein back after the big man missed the previous three games with a lower back strain.


Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going


Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going

For a young team like the Sacramento Kings, a 2-2 road trip is a huge success. An overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday has the Kings at 7-9 over their last 16 games, which is a big improvement over their 1-8 start to the season. They’ll host another quality playoff team in the Toronto Raptors for a Sunday matinee.

Zach Randolph is earning his $12.5 million this season. The 36-year-old big matched DeMarcus Cousins blow-for-blow in New Orleans, finishing with a season-high 35 points. He’s averaging 25 points and almost 11 rebounds per game over his previous four games. Dave Joerger received plenty of help from the young core, but without Z-Bo, the Kings would be stuck in reverse.

Toronto is in game two of a four-game road trip. They’ve won five straight and nine of their previous 11. Guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue to pace a Raptors team that currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference.

Raptors by 7

Garrett Temple vs. DeMar DeRozan -- Temple usually guards the toughest perimeter scorer for Sacramento and he’ll face a high-end wing on Sunday. DeRozan’s scoring is down nearly four points per game from his career-best 27.3 last seasons. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he can take you off the dribble and he lives in the mid-range. If Temple can limit DeRozan, the Kings have a shot to make it five in a row against the Raptors.  

Kings: 8-17, fifth place in Pacific

Raptors: 16-7, second place in Atlantic

Kings: G George Hill (personal reasons( is out, C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) status unknown, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January. Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere were recalled from the Reno Bighorns on Saturday.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira (calf) out, G Delon Wright (shoulder) out.

The Kings swept the season series over the Raptors last season and have a four-game win streak against the perennial playoff contender. Sacramento holds a 26-15 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

Labissiere a Changed Man? -- The Kings shocked everyone when they sent Skal Labissiere to the Reno Bighorns earlier this week. The second-year big took the demotion in stride, averaging 28 points, 15.5 rebounds, five blocks and two assists in 35 minutes a night against G-League team competition. Sacramento is hoping the 21-year-old found some confidence with extended minutes.    

Give Z-Bo a Break -- At 36, Randolph is showing no signs of slowing on the offensive end. But if the Kings’ fleet of bigs don’t find a way to step up, the 17-year NBA veteran is going to wear down over time. A healthy Willie Cauley-Stein would help, but Labissiere and Kosta Koufos have the ability to take some of the pressure off as well.

More Frank Mason III -- Sacramento’s second-round pick is putting on a show since earning rotational minutes. Mason’s scored in double-figures in three straight and seven of his last 10 games. Joerger let him finish the overtime win in New Orleans and he made some of the biggest plays of the game.


“Where we’re from, bullies get bullied. In my hood, bullies get bullied.” -Zach Randolph to DeMarcus Cousins in the Kings’ overtime win over the Pelicans

Randolph makes statement to Cousins as Kings' leader: 'Bullies get bullied'


Randolph makes statement to Cousins as Kings' leader: 'Bullies get bullied'

It’s a new day in Sacramento. With five rookies, four second-year players and a lone third-year guy, the Kings are going the route of building through the draft on nitro. 

Despite hitting a hard reset button at the trade deadline last season, the Kings are only one game off their pace from a season ago. An 8-17 record is nothing to brag about, but it’s a better start than anyone should have expected.

Friday night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans shows growth in a youthful team. The Kings competed well in their previous two games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, only to come up short in crunch time. 

First compete, then learn how to win. That is the mantra for any young team. Sacramento is slowly grasping the concept.

The victory over the Pelicans was a stark reminder of the world the Kings once lived in. DeMarcus Cousins, the team’s former All-Star big, put on a show. He punished Sacramento’s depleted front line for 38 points and 11 rebounds, but like so many nights with the Kings, he came up short. 

Where the Kings were and where they are heading was captured in one moment in the fourth quarter. With 3:19 remaining and Sacramento trailing 100-91, Frank Mason III went to the rack and was fouled. When his teammates went to pick him up off the floor, Cousins started chirping.

Always ready to talk, Cousins said something to Buddy Hield and tempers started to flair. 

During his last few seasons in Sacramento, Cousins was Sacramento’s de facto leader. On more than one occasion, this exact scene played out and it rarely worked out for the Kings.

But the climate has changed in Kingsland. Hield didn’t even need to say a word. Veteran Zach Randolph stepped in and handled the situation. No one in the league wants a piece of Z-Bo, including DeMarcus Cousins. 

Randolph fielded questions following the game, but the real meat was hidden in the NBC Sports California television broadcast.

Following the dust up in the fourth quarter, Randolph and Cousins lined up while Mason shot free throws. With cameras rolling, Z-Bo defined the new direction of the Sacramento Kings franchise. 

“Where we’re from, bullies get bullied,” Randolph said to the official. Then looking directly at Cousins, Randolph continued, “In my hood, bullies get bullied.”

Sacramento outscored the Pelicans 11-2 in the final minutes of the fourth. Hield scored eight of those 11 points, including a 3-pointer to tie the game with 36.3 seconds remaining. 

On a team filled with players under the age of 24, the 36-year-old Randolph has quickly become the Kings’ rock. On the court, he’s strung together an incredible run of games, including a 35-point, 13-rebound performance against New Orleans. 

Over his last four games, Randolph is averaging 25 points and just under 11 rebounds per game. More importantly, the Kings are 2-2 over the stretch and they’ve competed with NBA heavyweights. 

“We just came out and played hard, it was a team win,” Randolph told NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “My young fellas, hey, they’re amazing.” 

The 17-year NBA vet hit two huge 3-pointers in overtime and the young guys finished off the win. Randolph’s output on the floor carried the Kings, but his handling of Cousins made a statement to everyone on the team. When he’s on the floor, he is big brother and the team’s enforcer.