SACRAMENTO -- You play the team on the schedule. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team standing opposite the Sacramento Kings was Maccabi Haifa, an Israeli squad playing an exhibition game.
The Kings did exactly what was expected of them. They dominated Maccabi, coming away with a 132-100 victory to improve to 2-2 for the preseason.
It wasn’t the greatest display of hoops. Sacramento trailed early and went into the second quarter tied at 25. The team continued to struggle on the defensive end, yielding 100 points for the fourth consecutive game, this time to a professional team from Israel.
The game also wasn’t a disaster. The Kings took care of the ball, shot well from the field and turned over the ball just 12 times as a team despite running a new starting five out on the court.
Here are a few notes from the blowout win:
Buddy got hot
Hield is an electric scorer, but he’d had a quiet first three games. Then Kings coach Dave Joerger moved him back to the second unit against Maccabi Haifa, and Hield looked like a different player.
The third-year guard knocked down 9 of 11 shots from the field and hit all four of his 3-point attempts on his way to 22 points. In addition, he dished out five assists, including a couple of drop passes to his bigs.
With Hield pairing with Yogi Ferrell off the bench, someone is going to have to pass.
Harry and Marv are playing together
Sacramento has a talented young duo of bigs. So far in the preseason, Joerger hasn’t shied away from using rookies Harry Giles III and Marvin Bagley III together.
On Monday, Giles went for 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and blocked four shots. Bagley countered with 12 points, six rebounds and one block in 18 minutes.
They make mistakes and play out of control at times, but they bring a different feel to the game.
"We're about hard work, man. We're ready to get it going, ready to, you know, pick up the speed, change the pace and just change the culture around here. We're hungry. It's just like a new energy, a new spirit around here." -Harry Giles @HGiiizzle— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) October 9, 2018
Frank Mason starts, draws praise
Mason, who's likely a placeholder for the injured Bogdan Bogdanovic, picked up a start next to De’Aaron Fox, giving Sacramento an undersized but quick backcourt.
Against Maccabi Haifa, it worked.
Mason finished the evening with 13 points, eight assists and five steals. He over turned the ball only once in 28 minutes and now has a 23-to-3 assist-to-turnover ratio through four preseason games.
“Frank does what Frank does,” Joerger said about Mason. “He’s hard-nosed, and he’s a good guy that the coach always knows he can go to and you’re going to get 110 percent from him.”
Nemanja Bjelica shows something different
When the Kings signed Bjelica to a three-year deal late in the summer, it primarily was for his ability to hit the 3-pointer from the stretch-four position. Against Maccabi, he showed he's more than just a shooter.
The 30-year-old forward out of Serbia scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in 18 minutes during his Kings debut. He also blocked three shots and showed a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
“The first couple of minutes weren’t pretty, and I think after that, he was very effective for us,” Joerger said. “He came out of nowhere to block a couple of shots and I did not think he was going to get it. Impressive, team guy, high IQ, spaces the floor and gives out guys room to play.”
Justin Jackson gets it going
Jackson struggled through the first three games of the preseason, but Monday night, he looked like an entirely different player. Maybe it was the competition level or maybe he just came out more aggressively.
The end result was an 18-point, three-assist game in 24 minutes. Jackson shot 7 of 12 from the field and 4 of 8 from long range, and he helped space the floor well by hitting the corner three.
If Jackson can continue this trend, he can add a much needed element at the three.
Sacramento shot 53.1 percent from the field and an impressive 44.8 percent from long range on 29 attempts. The plan to add shooters around Fox and the rest of the guards is paying off early and creating plenty of lanes to run.
The Kings dished out 36 assists and turned over the ball just 12 times as a team. They also hit the hustle board hard, finishing the game with 16 steals, 14 blocks and a 47-36 rebounding advantage.
The numbers look solid, but the talent level of the opponent was not very high.