Kings

Kings' Casspi aiming for a Friday night return

Kings' Casspi aiming for a Friday night return

SACRAMENTO -- Reinforcements are on their way. When media entered the Sacramento Kings practice facility on Tuesday afternoon, veteran forward Omri Casspi was mixing it up in a halfcourt game of 3-on-3.

Casspi, 28, has missed the last 12 games for the Kings with a right plantaris tendon strain and was expected to be out until after the All-Star break. That timeline now appears to be in flux.

“It feels better and hopefully tomorrow it won’t be as sore,” Casspi said.  “Hopefully I’m aiming for the Friday night’s game.”

Before the injury, Casspi was in and out of the rotation. He had just started to get playing time again when he injured himself at practice and had to undergo an MRI.

“It’s frustrating, but it is what it is,” Casspi said following practice. “I’m trying to look at in a positive perspective. The first few days I got hurt it was really hard on me, but at this point I’m trying to get healthy as fast as I can and come back to help the team.”

Casspi’s numbers don’t jump off the page this season. He’s twice missed time due to illness and he’s logged just 22 of a potential 52 games on the year. But he was a reliable contributor under George Karl during the 2015-16 campaign, averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 40.9 percent from long range.

If not for the injury, the eight-year NBA veteran would likely have been a key figure for Dave Joerger’s squad over the last few weeks with injuries to Rudy Gay and Garrett Temple. With three wing players down, Matt Barnes and Arron Afflalo have seen an uptick in minutes, as has rookie Malachi Richardson and fourth-year man Ben McLemore.

Casspi is in the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. His ability to stay healthy down the stretch will help dictate how big of a contract he earns this summer, be it in Sacramento with the Kings or elsewhere.

Temple made an appearance at the practice as well on Tuesday. He worked on his shot from a stationary position while coaches fed him the ball. Temple is out until after the All-Star with a tear in his left hamstring.

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings have the Thunder’s number. For the second time this season, Sacramento took down OKC, this time by a final of 117-113.

The Kings blew a 19-point first half lead, but recovered with a 7-0 lead to start the fourth. The Thunder drew to within two points in the final 10 seconds, but De’Aaron Fox made his free throws when it mattered to help put the Kings over the top.

Here are six notes as the Kings jump back over .500 on the season at 9-8.

Iman on a mission

For the second time this season, Iman Shumpert posted huge numbers against the Thunder. The veteran wing looked like he was on his way to a new career-high when he dropped 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting before the intermission. 

Shumpert took just three shots after the break, missing all three. 

Buddy to the rescue

The game got a little too close for comfort in the fourth quarter, but then Buddy Hield started launching. Hield scored 11 of his team-high 25 points in the final frame, including three makes from long range. The third-year guard loves the big moment and the Kings love when he comes through in the clutch.

Earning time

Marvin Bagley has had his ups and downs through the first month of the season, but he showed up in the win over the Thunder. After struggling early, Bagley scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and posted his first career double-double when he added 13 rebounds. 

The 19-year-old was active on both ends of the court, adding three blocks to his stat line. Coach Dave Joerger stuck with him late, allowing him to play all but 18 seconds of the final quarter.

The struggle is real

Fox hasn’t had many setbacks this season, but he struggled to put the ball in the hole against OKC. Fox finished the game with six points on 1-of-10 shooting. He managed to dish out 13 assists and hit a pair of huge free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining to ice the game. 

Playing into shape

Bogdan Bogdanovic posted another solid performance in his sixth game back from injury. With Hield continuing to get the start, Bogdanovic led the second unit, scoring 16 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. There will be a point where Joerger has to make a decision on whether to put Bogdanovic back in the starting lineup, but for now, he is doing a nice job of stabilizing the reserves. 

Crashing the glass

The Kings grabbed a season-high 59 rebounds in the win. Willie Cauley-Stein led the way with 14 boards, plenty of other players helped out. Sacramento is now 6-1 on the season when they outrebound their opponent. The Kings also set a new season-high in 3-point makes with 16 and attempts with 38.

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

SACRAMENTO -- How do you stop the noise? You go out and win another game. 

The Kings continued their hot start Monday night at Golden 1 Center, surviving a rough third quarter to come away with a 117-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The win snapped a two-game skid, and propelled the Kings back over .500.

Caught in a media storm over his future with the club over the last 48 hours, Kings fans gave embattled coach Dave Joerger a loud ovation before the start of the game. 

“We really care about our fans, we’ve got great fans, I love it here, I love listening to the ovation tonight - that was really cool,” Joerger said after the win Monday. “And to get the win over a very, very good team tonight is really gratifying.”

It’s not the situation that anyone wants to be in. Despite assurances that his job was never in jeopardy, the stress of hearing your name brought up in regards to a potential coaching change is never easy. Joerger took the chaotic situation to heart.

His young team did their best to block out anything coming from beyond the walls of the locker room.

“Every game is important for us, we just try to stay together, don’t listen to the outside and nothing really matters, except everybody on this team,” rookie big man Marvin Bagley III said. “Going out and winning, that’s the main goal for us is to win every game we step on the floor and play and that’s all that matters.”

One of the few veterans on the squad, guard Iman Shumpert, has seen just about everything in his eight-year career. After putting up 23 points on the night, he was feeling good and tried to lighten the mood in the locker room.

“I’ve been a part of all type of rumors,” Shumpert said. “When I was with the Knicks, I got traded for three years before I actually got traded. I don’t know how accurate your guys' information is sometimes.”

Joerger survived the ordeal, and may have even come out stronger. His team is playing a fun brand of basketball, and the fans are engaged and ready to back him.

No one expected the Kings to sit at 9-8 through 17 games. They took their first negative hit from the outside, and bounced back for a big win. There is a resiliency to this group that is refreshing. They’ll have another test come Wednesday when they fly to Utah to face another playoff contender in the Jazz.