Kings

Jeff Van Gundy gushes over the job Dave Joerger has done in Sacramento

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AP

Jeff Van Gundy gushes over the job Dave Joerger has done in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- The job Dave Joerger has done with the young Sacramento Kings in not going unnoticed around the league. At 27-25, Joerger’s team has already matched their season win total from a season ago and they still have 30 games remaining on the schedule.

During his conversation with Monte Poole on The Warriors Insider Podcast, former coach turned ESPN and ABC television analyst Jeff Van Gundy had nothing but praise for the Kings’ head coach.

"I think Dave Joerger should be in the running for Coach of the Year,” Van Gundy said. “I think he's done a tremendous job."

Sighting the Kings’ long history of struggles, Van Gundy heaped praise on Sacramento’s franchise, which is a rarity to hear from folks in the national media.

“I think to try to lose for as many years as the Kings have lost and then figure a way to break through mentally, I give everyone in their organization a lot of credit.”

Van Gundy was part of the broadcasting team that covered the preseason game in Seattle where the Golden State ran over the Kings by a final of 122-94. Like most NBA observers, Van Gundy didn’t see this kind of success for Sacramento this season.

“I thought they were one of the worst teams I had ever seen in my life,” Van Gundy said of his preseason view of the Kings. “They were awful. They didn’t want to be there.”

[RELATED: Kings linked to Mavericks' Barnes in trade chatter]

Sighting some of the more difficult decision that Joerger has had to make, including sitting veteran Zach Randolph, Van Gundy puts a lot of the credit on the Kings’ coach.

“They play entertaining basketball, they play hard and I hope it’s winning back their fanbase up there because it’s an interesting, young, dynamic team,” Van Gundy added.

Joerger’s group has a ways to go before we start talking about postseason awards, but the fact that they are just a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase in the month of February is a monumental accomplishment.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in dominant preseason win vs. Jazz

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USATSI

Kings takeaways: What we learned in dominant preseason win vs. Jazz

BOX SCORE

Every game is an opportunity to get better. On Monday night in Salt Lake City, the Kings got better.

Sacramento pushed the tempo early and often and ran the Utah Jazz off the court in a 128-115 win. The Kings scored 78 points in a wild first half of action to take a big lead after 24 minutes. 

Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah, scoring 22 points in 28 minutes. Rudy Gobert added 17 points and six rebounds, but the Jazz’s duo weren’t nearly enough to keep up with the high-powered Kings. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings improved to .500 this preseason.

Buddy and Bags

The Kings can flat-out score the ball, which the Jazz were reminded of on their home court. While six Sacramento players scored in double figures, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley stood out.

Hield used a variety of moves to create space and hit open jumpers. He finished with 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Hield also chipped in five assists and grabbed three rebounds in the win. 

With Hield launching from the perimeter, Bagley went to work inside. The 20-year-old power forward posted a second straight double-double, scoring 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks.

Plan C

De'Aaron Fox is the Kings' "Plan A" at point guard, while veteran Cory Joseph is "Plan B." With Joseph missing his third straight game with a calf injury and Fox sidelined with a sore back in the third quarter, coach Luke Walton might have revealed Sacramento's "Plan C" -- and it wasn't Yogi Ferrell.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Kings’ Swiss army knife, stepped in alongside Hield and went to work. Bogdanovic initially put his scoring on hold and set up his teammates for a team-high eight assists in 28 minutes of action. 

The Kings’ sixth-man got going late to chip in 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and he grabbed five rebounds to add to the big night.

[RELATED: Kings' switching defense dependent on better communication]

Switch

While the offense outburst was impressive from the Kings, the focus continues to be on the defensive end. After installing a base defense in the opening days of camp, Walton and his staff began integrating some switching principles over the last few days.

Due to their size, athleticism and shooting ability, the Jazz is a difficult team to switch on. That didn’t stop the Kings from trying it at times Monday. 

The Jazz managed to score 115 points on the Kings while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. Of course the Kings were successful on the offensive end as well, hitting a very good Jazz team for 128 points. 

It’s clear the Kings defense is behind the offense, but they're building chemistry and showing signs of improvement.

Kings vs. Jazz watch guide: Projected lineups, injuries, player usage

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AP

Kings vs. Jazz watch guide: Projected lineups, injuries, player usage

The Sacramento Kings get their first look at a revamped Utah Jazz team Monday evening when they travel to Salt Lake City. A 50-win team last season, the Jazz bolstered their roster with Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic during the summer and look primed to jump into the contender conversation.

Sacramento is fresh off a win over the Phoenix Suns and are looking to move to .500 on the preseason. The Kings also made substantial changes in the offseason as they try to snap their 13-year playoff drought.

Tip is set for 6 p.m. PT at Vivint Smart Home Arena, although the game is not available on television.

The Kings return home following the contest to face Melbourne United in their final preseason game Wednesday at Golden 1 Center.

Where to Watch: Game is not televised

Line: Jazz by 4.5

Projected Starting Lineup

Kings

PG De’Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Harrison Barnes
PF Marvin Bagley
C Dewayne Dedmon

Jazz

PG Mike Conley
SG Donovan Mitchell
SF Bojan Bogdanovic
PF Royce O’Neale
C Rudy Gobert

Injury Report

Kings

PG Cory Joseph (calf) OUT, SF Trevor Ariza (lipoma) OUT, C Harry Giles (left knee soreness) OUT, PG Tyler Ulis (groin) OUT, PF Tyler Lydon (hip) OUT, F Hollis Thompson (hip) OUT.

Jazz

PG Danté Exum (right knee rehab) OUT, F Juwan Morgan (left ankle sprain) QUESTIONABLE, PG Emmanuel Mudiay (left hamstring soreness) QUESTIONABLE.

What to Watch

Bagley vs. The Stretch 4

Marvin Bagley’s move into the starting lineup is going to create matchup issues. Sometimes it will be good for the Kings, but other times, he might be a liability, at least until he figures out how to guard stretch fours on a consistent basis. Utah runs a group of sharpshooters at power forward, including Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jeff Green.

Battle of the Backcourts

It doesn’t get much better than this. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are an up and coming duo that play at a breakneck pace. Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell are a perfect mix of veteran savvy and incredible athleticism. A floor general, a slasher, a shooter and an aerial acrobat.