Wild, chaotic and in the end, lopsided. The Sacramento Kings have started the 2018-19 season 0-2 after falling on the road to the New Orleans Pelicans Friday evening. For a second straight game, the Kings showed they can score with the best of them, but their defense is miles away from NBA ready.
Nikola Mirotic put Sacramento on blast, scoring a career-high 36 points in just 31 minutes. Seven more Pelican players scored in double figures as New Orleans came away with the 149-129 win.
The Kings held their own early, but when the game turned into a full-fledged track meet, Sacramento couldn’t keep up. Here are five notes from Sacramento’s opening night defeat at the hands of the Jazz.
Marvin Bagley isn’t afraid
In just his second NBA game, rookie Marvin Bagley gave Kings fans something to cheer for and reminded people around the league why he was the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-11 power forward was fearless going at All-Star Anthony Davis from the moment he stepped on the court. He lit the Pelicans up for 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first half and finished the game with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in a team-high 32 minutes.
He needs work on the defensive end, but this was a nice little breakout performance for the 19-year-old out of Duke.
Cauley-Stein goes 2-for-2
After turning into Rod Tidwell during media day, Willie Cauley-Stein has posted big numbers in back-to-back games for Sacramento. Like the rest of the team, the fourth-year center needs to make a better showing on defense, but there is a lot to like on the offensive end.
Cauley-Stein finished Friday evening with his second straight 20 point performance and added seven points in 25 minutes of action. There are plenty of shots for everyone when you score 129 points, but Cauley-Stein has been impressive on the offensive side of the ball through two games.
Hield is thriving in the new offensive scheme. In the opener, he dropped in a quiet 19 points and in game two, he managed to score 17 on 3-of-4 shooting from long range. Hield might be the best pure shooter and scorer on the team, but his lone free throw attempt through two games came off of a technical from Jae Crowder Wednesday against Utah. He needs to search out contact and get some easy points at the line.
De’Aaron Fox had his second straight impressive game, finishing the night with 18 points, six assists and seven rebounds. He wasn’t the only Kings point guard to find success. Frank Mason played just four minutes in the opener, but he was given an opportunity to play Friday and took full advantage. The second-year guard scored 18 points and handed out six assists while turning the ball over just once in 21 minutes off the bench. His role on the team is still in flux, but he’ll see time if he keeps producing.
By the numbers
The Kings allowed the Pelicans to shoot 58.9 percent from the field and 51.6 percent from behind the arc. It’s the second time in as many chances that a team has shot over 50 percent from the field against Sacramento. New Orleans won the rebounding battle 52-39 and the assist battle 35-24. Eight players scored in double-figures for New Orleans and they also had eight different players hit a 3-point attempt.