Harrison Barnes, Alec Burks thrown into fire in Kings' big win


Harrison Barnes, Alec Burks thrown into fire in Kings' big win

SACRAMENTO -- With 28 games remaining in the season, coach Dave Joerger had to make a decision Friday evening. He could play his regulars, minus the departed Iman Shumpert and Justin Jackson. Or he could mix in the new guys and let the acclimation process begin.

Sacramento held a shootaround in the morning, but it was more of a meet and greet for newcomers Harrison Barnes, Alec Burks, Corey Brewer, and Caleb Swanigan. Following the brief workout with their new teammates, Barnes, Burks, and Brewer were shuttled around for press introductions.

The NBA world is a whirlwind of chaos. There is no break to move into a new home or even pack up your belongings, let alone learn an offense. Within 48 hours of playing for their previous teams, the quartet of new Kings were in uniform preparing to take on a tough Miami Heat team.

With the clock ticking on the Kings’ season, they need their new reinforcements to find their way quickly if they are going to stay in the playoff chase. Win or lose, Joerger had no choice but to throw both Barnes and Burks into the fire and let them find their way.

Through the first half, the Kings looked like they were running in mud. They looked every bit the part of a team trying to integrate new pieces on the fly.

Sacramento trailed by as many as 11 points in the first quarter, 12 in the second and in the third, they looked lost when Miami took at 17-point lead at the 4:24 mark.

“I thought Miami was the aggressors for most of the night - they had us on our heels and were very physical,” Joerger said. “Once we started getting some stops, we were able to run and run downhill on ‘em - kinda of broke things open for us.”

This is Kings basketball. All season long there have been moments when they find their edge and claw back into games. The fact that two new bodies were on the court seemed inconsequential.

Barnes started at the small forward spot in the first half and transitioned to the four to begin the second half. He played a team-high 37 minutes for Sacramento, finishing with 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting while grabbing seven rebound.

His late-game defense on Dwyane Wade was spectacular and he came away with a couple of big rebounds down the stretch as the Kings came charging back.

“Yeah, we were covering a lot [of] things today; late-game situations was not one, so we were definitely playing off the fly there,” Barnes said. I just tried to get out of the way and let these guys go. As we continue to get more comfortable, I think things will be exciting.”

A seasoned pro in front of a camera, Barnes said all the right things in his first post game. He complimented the sellout crowd. He touched on De’Aaron Fox’s speed. And he was slightly taken aback by the team’s ability to stay in the game.

“This is a young group, but it’s a maturing group and to see them show that poise and to see De’Aaron and Buddy [Hield] and Bogdan [Bogdanovic] play older than their age, it was good to see that, especially against a veteran team like Miami,” Barnes added.

Burks shot 4-of-5 from the field to finish with nine points in 15 minutes during his Kings debut. The veteran guard grabbed four rebounds and dished out an assist on Joerger’s bench.

“Alec got to the basket very well, made some nice savvy plays - just knowing where to be in the right place at the right time,” Joerger said. “It complemented what needed to be done.”

After playing a little over seven seasons in Utah, Burks was traded to the Cavs early in the year where he seemed to find his stride. In his first showing with Sacramento, he showed his versatility and took a lot away from the experience.

“I knew it was a young core that played hard,” Burks said. “They have the potential to be very very good in the future and that’s what I learned tonight.”

The Kings had a maintenance day on Saturday, which likely included some film work and walkthroughs. They’ll make their way back to Golden 1 Center Sunday for a matinee against the Phoenix Suns.

[RELATED: Kings welcome three new players]

It’s the final game of a six-game homestand. Sacramento enters Sunday’s contest with an opportunity to finish the run of home games at 5-1. A victory would also push them four games over the .500 mark and keep them in the middle of the mix for the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings.

While the early returns were strong, it will take time for the additions to find chemistry with their new teammates. The All-Star break is just around the corner, which will give everyone a chance to catch their breath and focus on the stretch run. 

Marvin Bagley continues to showcase star potential in win vs. Mavs

Marvin Bagley continues to showcase star potential in win vs. Mavs

SACRAMENTO -- The Marvin Bagley III era of Sacramento Kings basketball is upon us. He can hit you with a spin move, rise over you for a half hook and on Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center, he starting dropping in 3-pointers.

At 20-years-old, there is no telling where the ceiling is for the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Since returning from injury, five games ago, he’s been on fire, despite dealing with a minutes restriction.

“It was just a matter of time before I was able to show out and just go out and play,” a confident Bagley said following the Kings’ 116-100 victory. “Play without thinking and just play basketball. Whenever I’m playing like that I just play free and I’m not worried about mistakes.”

For the third straight game, the former Duke star posted 20 points or more for Sacramento, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He added 12 rebounds four the 14th double-double of his rookie campaign and blocked four shots as well.

Suiting up for the first time against fellow rookie, Luka Doncic, Bagley looked fresh and ready for the challenge. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Doncic looked every bit the part of a rookie who has had to carry the scoring load for his team all season. The Slovenian-born guard finished the night with just 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.

Following the game, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle raved about the Kings’ rookie.

“Bagley is terrific,” Carlisle told reporters following the game. “He’s much improved. Shooting the three consistently, so he’s a big problem.”

While Bagley knocked down the 3-ball at the college level, it was in limited attempts. Since joining the Kings, he’s taken a cautious approach when it comes to hoisting from the perimeter, shooting just 69 3-pointers through his first 51 games.

Tuesday against the Nets, Bagley shot and made two 3-pointers. On Thursday versus the Mavs, he looked confident in his five attempts, hitting a career-best three makes from behind the arc.

“It’s just a progression,” coach Dave Joerger said. “I’ve never told him not to, I’ve asked him that I prefer if the ball comes from inside the line where you’re getting your momentum going forward.”

For Bagley to take the next step in his progression and move into the starting lineup, the Kings need him to at least be a threat from the perimeter. If opposing defenses have to stay with him behind the 3-point line, it keeps the lanes open for De’Aaron Fox to attack the rim.

“He’s a special talent, man,” Buddy Hield said. “Sometime you don’t even run a play for him. He just gets our misses and puts it back in. That’s what comes with a special talent. He’s just going to keep growing and getting better. He’s still not to his potential.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Kings' win over Mavs]

In 10 games since the All-Star break, Bagley is averaging 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in 27 minutes per game. He’s quickly living up to the hype and showing improvement at almost every step.

With just 11 games remaining in the season, Bagley would like to end on a high note. The Kings need him to continue to develop his perimeter skills during his first real offseason and build some up his strength for the grueling 82 game NBA schedule.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from bounce-back win over Mavericks

Kings takeaways: What we learned from bounce-back win over Mavericks


SACRAMENTO -- Needing a win to move on from Tuesday’s epic collapse against the Nets, the Kings played with pace, shared the ball and hit their shots Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks.

Buddy Hield hit his shots, De’Aaron Fox put on the jets and both Marvin Bagley and Willie Cauley-Stein posted doubles to help push the Kings to a 116-100 victory.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings moves within a game of .500 at 35-36 on the season.

Bagley vs. Doncic

The Kings took a beating in the national media when they selected Bagley with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. The rookie big continues to show why he was worthy of the pick.

The 20-year-old power forward struggled with his shot at times, but still managed to notch 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and four blocks. He was active on both ends of the floor and made a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game.

Luka Doncic was the player many thought the Kings would select at two. When the Kings passed, Dallas moved up to select the talented guard out of Slovenia. Doncic struggled with his shot, shooting just 4-of-19 from the field to finish with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

While they didn’t match up against each other often, both look like top-level young players.

Returning to form

After failing to break the 20 point mark in three straight games and posting just eight in the Kings’ loss to the Nets on Tuesday, Hield woke up against Dallas.

Sacramento’s leading scorer hit 7-of-13 from long range to finish the night with a team-high 29 points.

Hield is the barometer for this team. When he plays well, the Kings are tough to beat.

Revenge game

Justin Jackson played rotational minutes throughout the first half of the season with the Kings before heading to the Mavericks with Zach Randolph in exchange for Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline.

He returned to his old stomping grounds Thursday evening and looked pumped up against his former team. The 23-year-old wing was active and hit his shots, scoring 19 points on 9-for-16 shooting for Dallas in 32 minutes of action.