Bogdan Bogdanovic, second unit come up big in Kings' win over Hawks

Bogdan Bogdanovic, second unit come up big in Kings' win over Hawks

Coming into the season, the Kings’ second unit was supposed to be one of their strong suits. With players moving in and out of the starting unit, it’s taken longer than expected to gel, but in the win over the Atlanta Hawks, the second unit was a big reason why Sacramento came out victorious.

The trio of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph came to play, especially in the deciding fourth quarter. Atlanta made a run, cutting the Kings’ lead down to one point at 94-93. Coach Luke Walton stayed with the second unit and they responded with a huge run to put the Hawks away.

“They did a great job of closing out the game,” point guard De’Aaron Fox told reporters following the 121-109 win. “Bogi had a hell of a game and Cory was able to control the pace at the end.”

Despite posting big numbers early, Walton left his starting backcourt of Fox and Buddy Hield on the bench for the final period and allowed the veteran crew to finish off the game. Hield was vocal coming off the court in the third and could be seen having an animated conversation with Walton on the sidelines.

Sometimes you have to ride the hot hand, and that is exactly what Walton did in the fourth quarter.

“Good contributions from first unit guys, from second unit guys, and that’s why we’re always preaching team,” coach Luke Walton told reporters following the game. “It doesn’t matter who starts, who finishes. It matters who’s out there playing well.”

Trae Young started to get rolling in the third quarter, scoring 16 of his game-high 30 points while dishing out four assists. Walton threw Joseph at Young to start the fourth and gummed up Atlanta’s attack.

Between Bogdanovic and Joseph, the Kings slowed down the tempo of the game and the Hawks were slow to make adjustments.

On the offensive end, Bogdanovic hit big shots and Joseph found cracks in the Hawks’ defense to exploit. Ariza stepped up his game late as well, scoring nine of his 14 points in the fourth on a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the 3-point line.

“We really moved the ball well, the second unit especially,” Bogdanovic told NBC Sports California's Grant Napear and Doug Christie during a postgame interview. “You just have to be ready to play.”

Bogdanovic finished with 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. His 3-pointer to finish off the third quarter helped give the Kings momentum heading to the fourth and his 11 points in the final frame put the game out of reach.

This was Bogdanovic’s second straight strong showing after a slow start to the season. Over his last two games, he’s averaging 21 points per game and has hit 11-of-17 from behind the arc.

“Confidence was always there, it’s just the rhythm a little bit and that’s what it’s all about,” Bogdanovic said. “My teammates keep finding me and I was just patient. It was me today.”

In addition to the trio of veterans, second-year big man Harry Giles made an impact early for Sacramento in his first game of the 2019-20 season.

“It was nice to get Harry back and Trevor, Cory, Bogi - some of those bench guys, had really big games for us tonight,” Walton said.

Giles entered the game in the second quarter and instantly made an impact on the defensive end with a big shot block. He took a few minutes to get comfortable on the offensive end, but he knocked down a nice 22-foot jumper from the right elbow and scored another two points at the line during his seven minutes of play.

“His energy, his toughness, his passing ability really showed in those minutes,” Walton said. “But I also thought our other bigs had great moments. I thought Richaun [Holmes] finished the game like a winner. He was out there shocking the ball and running back and rebounding.”

Walton turned back to Giles in the fourth, but with the game on the line and Giles new to the rotation, he turned back to Holmes quickly to finish out the game. While Holmes finished with just two points on the night, he chipped in nine rebounds and was effective on the defensive end.

[RELATED: What Giles' return means for Kings]

The Kings are a work in progress, but they finished their three-game road trip with a 2-1 record and their loss to the Raptors was by a final of 124-120. They are clearly growing as a unit and starting to find more chemistry.

“I feel like we still have a lot of things to work on, but I feel like a lot of things are starting to click,” Fox added.

After a busy first week, the schedule has been kind to the Kings as of late. They flew home to Sacramento after the win in Atlanta, but they won’t play again until Tuesday when the Portland Trail Blazers roll into town.

The Kings have another two-day break after the Blazers game before making a short hop to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers next Friday. It’s a light week that should allow for more practice time to work out the kinks.

NBA admits LeBron James fouled Harrison Barnes on decisive Lakers-Kings play


NBA admits LeBron James fouled Harrison Barnes on decisive Lakers-Kings play

The Kings' 99-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night was too close for comfort. It also created a controversial call -- a call in which we recently received some clarity.

With 5.5 seconds remaining in the game, Harrison Barnes was called for blocking a foul against LeBron James. This allowed LeBron to sink a couple of free throws to get the Lakers to 99 points.

Barnes would later say contact was made but was waiting for the replay to decide.

The NBA Officiating Last Two Minute Report would confirm James did indeed foul Barnes with 5.5 seconds remaining. 

"James (LAL) extends his elbow into Barnes's (SAC) chin before any contact is initiated by Barnes on the perimeter," the report stated.

“Who initiated that, that’s for replays to decide," Barnes said after the game. " And they chose to call that a foul on me and that’s something you have to live with."

[RELATED: No timetable for De'Aaron Fox return]

Buddy Hield spoke to NBC Sports California's James Ham about the play and said it was a game-changer.

“One call changed the whole game, it could have gone either way,” Hield said. “It be like that sometimes. When the home team is favored, especially you know, in LA.”

In a game that close, he could be right.

Kings not happy with two questionable calls late in loss to Lakers

Kings not happy with two questionable calls late in loss to Lakers

Losing never feels good, but the Sacramento Kings were definitely not happy about the way things went Friday evening at the Staples Center. With the game on the line late, not one, but two plays went against Sacramento, and the Los Angeles Lakers came away with a 99-97 victory.

With 5.5 seconds remaining, Harrison Barnes was called for a blocking foul against LeBron James, which allowed the one of the game’s greats to step to the line and knock down a pair of free throws to give his club a 99-97 lead.

“Contact was made,” Barnes said. “Who initiated that, that’s for replays to decide. And they chose to call that a foul on me and that’s something you have to live with.”

At least one Kings player was willing to voice his displeasure at the chain of events following the loss.

“One call changed the whole game, it could have gone either way,” an angry Buddy Hield said. “It be like that sometimes. When the home team is favored, especially you know, in LA.”

The replay is difficult to parse out and is up for interpretation. It was clear that Barnes made a move on the ball, but it was also obvious that James made contact with the defender and cleared space.

“Sometimes you have to let the situation play out,” Hield said. “I don’t think it was a foul. It was the other way. Ask Rodney what he thinks.”

By “ask Rodney,” Hield was referring to official Rodney Mott, who called the game along with Sean Wright and Natalie Sago.

Sacramento had another opportunity to either tie or go ahead in the final moments, but this time, the officiating crew allowed the players to continue after contact.

Barnes took an inbounds pass, saw an opening and broke for the basket. It appeared that while trying to recover defensively, James clipped the back of Barnes right heel, which knocked him off balance and sent him careening towards the key.

Barnes continued to stumble towards the basket where he was met by All-Star center Anthony Davis in the lane. The 6-foot-11 big managed to absorb contact from Barnes and swat a last-second shot attempt away to preserve the Lakers win.

It turns out that Barnes going to the paint was the Lakers gameplan all along.

“The one thing we wanted to do was force them inside the 3-point line,” James told reporters following the game. “A two doesn’t hurt us. They make a two, we call a timeout, see if we can win the game, if not go into overtime. We played it to perfection making them go inside the line and then when you have a shot blocker with the caliber of AD protecting the rim, it just made it a lot tougher on Harrison.”

While James saw perfection, the Kings saw an offensive foul or no-call, followed by a second no-call. They’ll point to a disparity in free throw attempts on the evening, where they went 9-of-9 from the line, including seven attempts in the fourth quarter, while the Lakers finished 20-for-22.

“It’s always the referee’s decision to call or not call (a foul),” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Sometimes you get calls, sometimes not. Homecourt advantage maybe? Sometimes it goes like that, you know? But it’s over, we lost this game and we have to be locked in for Boston.”

[RELATED: Kings take leap of faith on young core]

Sacramento will wait anxiously for the league’s Last Two Minute report to drop on Saturday afternoon, although the officials report has zero value when it comes to wins and losses. The league may admit a mistake or two, but there is no recourse. They could also side with the officiating crew at the arena.

A loss is a loss, but the Kings played solid ball against the best the Western Conference has to offer. They played short-handed with De’Aaron Fox (left ankle), Marvin Bagley (right thumb) and Trevor Ariza (right groin) missing the game and they still managed to keep it close with a chance to win late.