Kings

Kings' Nemanja Bjelica, Bogdan Bogdanovic deliver in win over Blazers

Kings' Nemanja Bjelica, Bogdan Bogdanovic deliver in win over Blazers

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are not accepting condolence cards.

Despite an atrocious 0-5 start to the season and major injuries to both forward Marvin Bagley and point guard De’Aaron Fox, the Kings refuse to give up on the final 70-plus games of the season. The Portland Trail Blazers learned that lesson on Tuesday evening at Golden 1 Center.

It took a full 48 minutes, but the Kings staved off the Blazers late to come away with a 107-99 victory in front of an appreciative home crowd.

With two of their top scorers on the shelf, the Kings need more from every member of the rotation. Against a Portland team that made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, it was a pair of Serbian national team teammates that came to play.

Nemanja Bjelica was the only Kings player that could find the bottom of the net in the first 8:41 of the first quarter. The 31-year-old forward scored seven of the team’s first eight points, with Richaun Holmes putting in a lone free throw as Sacramento fell behind 18-8 early.

“Bjeli started off well and everybody is staying together as a group and just connecting with each other and supporting each other,” Buddy Hield said.

Bjelica posted his first double-double of the season, finishing the evening with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes.

The veteran big started the game well and then came to the rescue late with a 26-foot three-pointer to give Sacramento an eight-point lead with 2:37 remaining in the fourth.

“Great win, especially in front of our fans,” Bjelica said. “I mean, we’re always talking about is we want to make the playoffs, we need to win every game at home, so it is very important for us.”

Needing a spark to wake up the offense, coach Luke Walton turned to the Kings’ other Serbian-born player, Bogdan Bogdanovic. The third-year wing changed the entire momentum of the game with his defense, scoring ability and playmaking.

Bogdanovic picked up three steals in just under six minutes of play in the first quarter and matched his career-high with four steals on the night.

On the offensive end, Bogdanovic hit Portland with a team-high 25 points, including 15 in the first half while the Kings were struggling to keep up.

“He’s fun to watch, man,” Hield said of Bogdanovic. “Playing with him, he’s such a good passer. He’s a good playmaker and he’s always about team. You see him making shots and scoring, but he’s always a team-first guy.”

With Fox sidelined, Bogdanovic took the reigns of the offense. He finished with 10 assists in 32 minutes of action and during crunch time, he made the right plays when it mattered.

“I think I’m an experienced player and I can adjust to any role here,” Bogdanovic said. “I’m just trying to help the team to get these wins and tonight it was 10 assists. I’m more happy with the win.”

It was Bogdanovic who fed Bjelica for the open three in the fourth. He had another pass to Cory Joseph for a three at the 2:01 mark of the fourth and he found a cutting Harrison Barnes with 1:30 remaining to help seal the win.

Bjelica and Bogdanovic put up the big numbers, but it was a team effort for Sacramento.

Hield struggled with his shot, but still managed to post 20 points on the evening. Barnes went scoreless in the first half but finished with 16 after a strong final 24 minutes. Joseph played solid defense on Damian Lillard and Richaun Holmes chipped in the team’s third double-double with an 11-point, 10-rebound, two-block performance.

[RELATED: What we learned as Kings take down Blazers without Fox]

The Kings have a long road in front of them, but they are playing a better brand of basketball after a tough start and they are starting to show improvements on both ends of the court. With the win, Sacramento is now 4-1 over their previous five games and they’ve climbed to 4-6 on the season.

They’ll have a much tougher test on Friday when they fly to Los Angeles to face LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the 8-2 Lakers.

Buddy Hield shoulders blame for late mistake in Kings' loss vs. Spurs

Buddy Hield shoulders blame for late mistake in Kings' loss vs. Spurs

All the Kings needed to do was play 14 seconds of good defense and they would walk out of AT&T Center in San Antonio with an impressive win.

But Buddy Hield didn't fight through a LaMarcus Aldridge screen and a wide-open Marco Belinelli drained a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left in regulation.

The game would go to overtime, and the Kings would eventually lose, 105-104, to the Spurs.

After the game, a somber Hield pointed the finger at himself for the end-of-regulation breakdown.

"I should have been more locked in and have more attention to detail in regulation and shouldn't put us in that situation," Hield told reporters in San Antonio. "I see what coach is talking about, but it's my fault."

While Hield blew the assignment on Belinelli's game-tying shot, the Kings will want to forget the final two minutes of regulation.

Up 98-89, the Kings were outscored 11-2 over the final 1:50 of the fourth quarter. They turned the ball over three times during that span, allowing the Spurs to chip away at the deficit.

Still, Hield was upset with himself.

"I didn't lock in and pay extra attention to Belinelli, so it's on me," Hield said.

Coach Luke Walton wasn't happy either, but for a different reason.

"The turnovers at the end of regulation, that's something we can't do as a group," Walton told reporters in San Antonio.

Despite how regulation ended, the Kings still had a chance to win the game at the end of overtime. Hield and Trevor Ariza had open shots, but couldn't connect.

"At the end of the day, we had three open looks to win and we missed all three of them," Walton said. "So, it's frustrating, it hurts to lose. It's what the journey's about and it's about learning from these and getting better as a group and going out and being able to do a better job at executing down the stretch next time we're in that situation."

With the loss, the Kings sit at 8-13 on the season and the schedule doesn't get any easier. On Sunday, they take on MVP candidate Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. The next day, they will be in Houston to take on James Harden and the Rockets. That's a brutal back-to-back.

[RELATED: Bagley cleared for contact]

As they wait for De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley to get healthy, the Kings need to learn from their mistakes and put together a complete game. If they don't, they will come home on Tuesday seven games under .500, a spot they don't want to be in.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in crushing 105-104 OT loss to Spurs

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AP

Kings takeaways: What we learned in crushing 105-104 OT loss to Spurs

BOX SCORE

The Kings began the Texas Three-Step with a crushing overtime loss in San Antonio on Friday night.

Sacramento (8-13) built a 98-89 lead with 1:50 remaining in regulation, but the Spurs (9-14) rallied to force the extra period and pulled out a stunning 105-104 win at AT&T Center.

The Kings' modest three-game winning streak against the Spurs came to an end with the loss.

Sacramento's road trip continues with games in Dallas on Sunday and Houston on Monday.

Here are the three takeaways from the Kings' loss in San Antonio:

Unable to close

After blowing a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Kings went on a 9-0 run to take a 98-89 advantage. But San Antonio closed the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run to force overtime.

In overtime, the Kings had a chance to win in the final seconds, but Buddy Hield and Trevor Ariza each missed two shots on the final possession.

No stopping Holmes

Richaun Holmes arguably has been the Kings' best player the last few games and he continued his strong play against the Spurs.

The center, in his first year with the Kings, finished with 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in 45 minutes.

Over his last three games, Holmes is averaging 20.3 points and 11 rebounds. He's looking like the steal of the offseason for Sacramento.

The emergence of Holmes is a welcome sight considering how ineffective Dewayne Dedmon has been. On Friday, the high-priced center played just eight minutes and did not score.

Bogi returns

Bogdan Bogdanovic missed Wednesday's game in Portland due to a knee contusion, but he returned in San Antonio.

The reserve guard finished with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes.

Without De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, the Kings desperately need Bogdanovic's scoring off the bench. He didn't provide much Friday, but just having him back in the rotation is a good sign for Sacramento.