Kings

Kings' Harrison Barnes generously pays for Atatiana Jefferson's funeral

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USATSI

Kings' Harrison Barnes generously pays for Atatiana Jefferson's funeral

Harrison Barnes signed a long-term contract that will keep him in Sacramento for the next four seasons, but before he joined the Kings, Barnes spent two-and-a-half years in Dallas as a member of the Mavericks.

The Kings forward still feels a connection to his previous home city, and that was extremely evident through the generous gesture Barnes and his wife made to the family of Atatiana Jefferson, a Dallas-area woman who recently was shot and killed by a police officer while in her own home.

Jefferson had been looking after her eight-year-old nephew when the officer, Aaron Dean, arrived at her open-door home and opened fire without announcing he was a policeman. The 28-year-old Jefferson was shot and killed, and Dean since has been charged with murder.

It's a terrible, heartbreaking situation for Jefferson's family, and Barnes sought to make things easier on them during these trying times by paying for her funeral.

"The biggest thing is, anytime someone has to go through that, the last thing you want to have to worry about is trying to come up with the money for a funeral," Barnes explained Thursday. "It's about the family, it's about everything they're going through. Our prayers are obviously with them, and it was a gesture my wife and I wanted to do for them.

"It was unfortunate. It should never happen," Barnes continued. "Just in general, gun violence in Dallas, recently. Andre Emmett, a guy that I played pickup basketball with for two-and-a-half straight summers -- another unfortunate incident. So when you see these type of situations continue to occur, you know that change needs to happen."

Barnes understands that while he's a basketball player by profession, he has a role to play that goes beyond the court.

[RELATED: Hield extension talks cast momentary dark cloud over Kings]

"I think that any time you come to a community, whether it's Sacramento, whether it's Dallas, whether it's Oakland, Chapel Hill or Ames, you always have a piece of that community that's with you and you always want to try to give back."

Kings' accumulated depth paying dividends as team creeps back to .500

Kings' accumulated depth paying dividends as team creeps back to .500

SACRAMENTO -- Coming out of a busy summer of additions, the Kings looked like one of the deeper teams in the Western Conference. 13 games into the 2019-20 season, that depth is paying dividends and Sacramento is scrambling back towards the .500 mark.

In a 120-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday evening, head coach Luke Walton’s crew almost blew a 26-point lead, but it somehow managed to pull together and win as a team in the final minute.

“That’s what Luke says -- a lot of teams, they lose these games and then maybe they learn,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “We are lucky enough to learn and smart enough to learn from this game and get a win.”

Players stepping up is a trend in Sacramento, and it’s a big reason the team has bounced back after a brutal 0-5 start.

When Marvin Bagley broke his right thumb on opening night, Nemanja Bjelica stepped back into a starting role and he has flourished. When Dewayne Dedmon struggled with his shot, Richaun Holmes took over the starting center job, and he is making a huge difference for the Kings. And after De’Aaron Fox severely sprained his ankle, Cory Joseph has come to the rescue.

Balancing out the roster once everyone is healthy and playing to their potential won’t be easy for Walton, but on Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center, his team picked up its sixth win in eight games and did it with a rotation that has constantly been in flux.

With Buddy Hield under the weather and missing his 3-point attempts, Bogdanovic was the star of the evening. The reserve shooting guard notched a career-high 31 points on 7-of-9 shooting from long range to lead all scorers.

The seven makes from distance also a career-high for Bogdanovic, but he wasn’t the only difference-maker for the Kings.

“Bogi is crazy, he’s good,” Hield said of Bogdanovic. “You never know who’s going to go on a run. It could be Bjeli, it could be me, it could be Bogi. Those are guys that can hurt you at any second.”

[RELATED: How Kings' Serbian connections help make Bogi feel at home]

Joseph hasn’t looked for his own shot since taking over for Fox at point guard, but he has played spectacular defense and managed the game like a pro against Phoenix.

In his ninth NBA season and first in Sacramento, the veteran guard set a new personal best with 14 assists to go with six points, five rebounds and just two turnovers in 39 minutes of action.

“Obviously we have a couple of guys down, which is unfortunate,” Joseph said. “It’s the next man up mentality. Everybody that stepped up played good.”

After playing with the Suns a season ago, Holmes looked like a man possessed. He attacked a depleted Phoenix front line, scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with a career-high 15 rebounds.

“Every time I’ve coached against him, he’s killed us.” Walton said of his experience with Holmes before this season. “But he’s never really played major minutes, at least from what I’ve seen. We were excited to get him. He’s been as solid and steady as anyone that we’ve had on our team.”

Bjelica continued his strong play for the Kings as well. The 31-year-old veteran finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, a block and a steal. His 28-foot 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining in the fourth momentarily helped stem the tide and put the Kings back up by 12.

“He's able to stretch the floor so we've got more of a lane when I'm going down the lane on the rolls," Holmes said of Bjelica. "He can pass the ball, he can play-make, he can just do so many different things. He's very important to this team.”

The Kings still are developing an identity, but they were solid on defense again and there always seems to be someone new stepping up to help carry the load.

“That’s what’s so fun about us -- we enjoy everybody’s success and we love that about everybody,” Hield added. “We love to share the ball, we love to play together. That’s great for us and that’s going to help us keep growing and help us win ball games down the stretch.”

Sacramento flies out to New York on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for a Friday matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. The Kings will play a tough four-game road trip heading into Thanksgiving, but after a rough start to the season, they seem to be back on the right track.

Injury Note

After posting a career-high in scoring, Bogdanovic was forced to leave the game with 1:22 remaining. Following the win, Bogdanovic said he had a cramp in his left hamstring and thought that he would be okay for Friday's game against the Nets. We will have an update on his hamstring as more information becomes available.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in high-scoring 120-116 win vs. Suns

Kings takeaways: What we learned in high-scoring 120-116 win vs. Suns

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- It wasn’t always pretty, but the Kings moved one step closer to the .500 mark Tuesday evening with a 120-116 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Sacramento led by as many as 26 in the third quarter, but the Suns kept playing hard and made it a game, cutting the Kings’ lead to just three points in the final minute of the fourth.

Devin Booker led Phoenix with 30 points and eight assists. Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre each dropped in 20, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early deficit.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings continued their hot streak to improve to 6-7 on the season.  

King of the Day

NBC Sports California mic’d up Bogdan Bogdanovic before the game as part of the "King of the Day" celebration. Once the contest tipped off, Bogdanovic let his game speak for him.

The third-year guard caught fire from long range in the final 6:15 of the second quarter for 16 of his career-high 31 points. 

In addition to the hot shooting, Bogdanovic added seven assists, four rebounds and two steals as the Kings survived a late run by the Suns. 

Over his last six games, Bogdanovic is averaging 21.3 points and 6.7 assists while shooting 26-for-46 (56.5 percent) from 3-point range. 

[RELATED: How Kings' Serbian connections help make Bogi feel at home]

Bogdanovic left the game late with an apparent injury and watched the end from the bench.

Bring it Holmes

Richaun Holmes looked extremely comfortable against his former Phoenix teammates Tuesday evening at Golden 1 Center.

With DeAndre Ayton and Aron Baynes sidelined, the Kings attacked the soft middle of the Suns' defense for 20 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. 

Whatever led the Suns to move on from Holmes is fine by the Kings. The 26-year-old big has been a breath of fresh air for Sacramento and a dynamic force in the middle.

Rollin’

After an abysmal 0-5 start to the season, the Kings have won two straight and six of their last eight to move to within a game of .500.

A big reason for the improvement is on the defensive end, as the Suns were made well aware on Tuesday. Phoenix shot just 42.7 percent from the field, including a rough 12-for-36 shooting from long range.