Kings

Dave Joerger not happy with Kings after loss to Mavs: 'We were awful'

Dave Joerger not happy with Kings after loss to Mavs: 'We were awful'

SACRAMENTO -- Chaos is becoming the norm in Sacramento. With protesters barring more than 10,000 fans from entering Golden 1 Center for the second time in a week, the Sacramento Kings put up a lackluster effort and lost to one of the league’s worst teams.

Following the 103-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, head coach Dave Joerger expressed his displeasure with his team’s effort, even showing a rare bit of emotion in his answer.

“We were awful,” Joerger said. “We played with no force, no physicality and no toughness whatsoever.”

Joerger was quick to exempt veteran big man Kosta Koufos from his comments. The 10-year vet brought his lunch pail like usual, finishing the night with 15 points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

The rest of the group, Joerger was less than happy with.

“Training wheels come off next season,” Joerger said. “We can talk about this after the season, but those guys have to feel it and they’re going to have to step up against teams like this or other teams.”

Joerger went young the entire second half, relying on De’Aaron Fox, Frank Mason III, Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein to fight through the struggles. He sprinkled in minutes for JaKarr Sampson and Bruno Caboclo as well, but his young core was on full display and they fell flat.

“There is going to be some bumps and we are going to take steps forward and we’re going to take steps backward, but you’ve got to be ready to go and you’ve got to play with a certain amount of force and physicality,” Joerger added.

Some of the players cleared out early, others stood in to try and explain how the Kings dropped their 51st game of the season, this time to a team that came into the night with just 22 wins.

“It’s different, but we just have to play the game like professionals,” Hield said following the loss. “You can’t worry about what’s going on outside and whatever the noise is going on. We’ve just got to come out and handle our business and tonight, we didn’t handle it well. There’s no excuse to it. We’re professional. We have to go out there and do our job.”

Tuesday evening’s game was particularly frustrated for the team after they put in solid work at practice on Monday. For some reason, the energy didn’t carry over to the game the next night.

“I have no idea, that’s how it goes sometimes,” Cauley-Stein said of why practice didn’t carry over to the game. “We’re young. That’s it. Say that. We’re young.”

That excuse only works so long. 73 games into an NBA season, most of these players have seen enough court time to know what to expect on a game night. Of all the young players on the Kings’ roster, Cauley-Stein is the most experienced, playing 207 total games over his three seasons in the league.

The Kings will have to regroup and show that they are ready to finish the last second game strong. They’ll face their former teammate, Darren Collison, and the Indiana Pacers on Thursday evening. Indiana is currently tied for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and they come into Golden 1 Center riding a three game win streak.

Kings vs. Rockets watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

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USATSI

Kings vs. Rockets watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

There is no let up in the schedule. After a tough battle in Memphis on Friday evening, the Sacramento Kings jump back into the fray Saturday for a back-to-back on the road against the Houston Rockets.

De’Aaron Fox posted a 23-point, 10-assist double-double in the loss to the Grizzlies, but like the rest of his teammates, he had issues holding onto the ball. Fox was responsible for six of the team’s 21 turnovers, which proved too much to overcome.

Houston struggled early, but since sending Carmelo Anthony away, they are on a roll. The Rockets have rattled off three straight wins to climb back to .500, including a 21-point win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. 

Pregame show on NBC Sports Bay California begins at 4:30 p.m., with tip-off scheduled for 5:00 pm.

The Kings return home Monday to host the Thunder before heading back out on the road Wednesday to face the Utah Jazz.

Line

Rockets by 12

Projected Starting Lineup

Kings
PG De’Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Iman Shumpert
PF Nemanja Bjelica
C Willie Cauley-Stein

Rockets
PG Chris Paul 
SG James Harden
SF James Ennis
PF P.J. Tucker
C Clint Capela

Injury Report

Kings
C Kosta Koufos (right calf strain) OUT.

Rockets
C Nene (calf strain) OUT, PG Brandon Knight (knee) OUT.

Rotation Outlook

Kings
Coach Dave Joerger continues to move things around in his rotation. After averaging over 22 minutes per game through the first 14 games of the season, including two starts, Justin Jackson received the dreaded DNP-CD in Memphis.

Troy Williams picked up 18 minutes in Jackson’s place and continues to produce when given an opportunity.

Harry Giles made a second straight appearance, filling in for the injured Kosta Koufos.

Bogdan Bogdanovic did not appear on the injury report and has been cleared to play in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Rockets

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s team is finally waking from their early season slumber. The Rockets made plenty of roster adjustments in the offseason, allowing rotational players like Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute and Ryan Anderson to leave via free agency or trade.

James Ennis is starting alongside P.J. Tucker at the three and giving the team a pair of defensive-minded forwards.

Eric Gordon is starting to heat up as the anchor of the second unit.

Kings notes: De'Aaron Fox's turnovers sting in road loss to Grizzlies

Kings notes: De'Aaron Fox's turnovers sting in road loss to Grizzlies

Welcome to the Western Conference. Almost every night you step on the court, there is a seasoned team waiting to give you a fight and, on plenty of nights, hand you a loss.

The Sacramento Kings gave the Memphis Grizzlies a run for their money Friday night at FedEx Forum, but in the end, the veteran team forced the style of play to come away with the 112-104 win.

Here are six notes as the Kings slipped to 4-4 on the road and 8-7 overall on the season.

Fox fumbles

De’Aaron Fox was the Kings’ star of the night, but he struggled with turnovers. The 20-year-old point guard gave the ball away six times overall, but three of those mistakes came in the fourth quarter while Sacramento was trying to rally.

These nights happen. Fox still managed to score 23 points and shoot 8 of 17 from the field while handing out 10 assists and grabbing four rebounds. This was Fox’s fourth double-double on the season and the eighth time he has scored 20 points or more in a game.

The Minus Touch

Some nights the stats aren’t kind. On paper, Buddy Hield didn’t have a bad night, unless you glance at the plus/minus category.

Hield scored 16 points, shot 6 of 12 from the field, and had three assists, four rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes of play. But he also posted a team-worse -23 in plus/minus.

Finding his game

Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to fight his way through the medical staff's minutes restriction. He played 24 minutes in Memphis, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, 2 of 4 from long range.

As of Monday, the second-year wing planned on playing both games of the back-to-back, which would be a huge step in his return from knee issues.

Breaking the Shump slump

Known more for his defensive prowess, veteran Iman Shumpert has scored in double figures only once over his last previous eight games. Against the Grizz, he let it fly, hitting 3 of 6 from deep on his way to 12 points before fouling out.

The Kings have plenty of other scorers to rely on, but it’s nice to get some production from the small forward position on occasion.

Out-muscled on the blocks

Marc Gasol and Jaren Jackson did major damage against Willie Cauley-Stein, Nemanja Bjelica, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles. The Memphis duo torched Sacramento’s front line for a combined 46 points and 21 rebounds in the Grizzlies' win.

As a group, the Kings' bigs need to figure out how to slow teams that play with their back to the basket.

No-action Jackson

After averaging 22.2 minutes over the Kings’ first 14 games, Justin Jackson drew the dreaded “Did Not Play -- Coach’s Decision” against the Grizzlies.

Jackson has struggled with his consistency all season, and with Bogdanovic back in the rotation, minutes are getting tighter at the two and the three. Troy Williams ate any extra time that might have gone Jackson’s way, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes of action.