Kings notes: Six players who stood out in preseason win over Maccabi Haifa


Kings notes: Six players who stood out in preseason win over Maccabi Haifa

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.

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.

Numbers game

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.

De'Aaron Fox calls out Laura Ingraham's 'shut up and dribble' hypocrisy


De'Aaron Fox calls out Laura Ingraham's 'shut up and dribble' hypocrisy

Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, as he has done with more frequency as of late, turned to social media Thursday to voice his opinion about racial injustice in America.

The Kings’ young star retweeted a video from Complex Sports, which strings together two separate segments from Laura Ingraham's show on Fox News.

The first segment is a clip from 2018, when Ingraham told NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant to “shut up and dribble,” admonishing them for criticizing President Donald Trump.

In the second segment, she defends Saints quarterback Drew Brees for his comments made Wednesday to Yahoo Finance.

Fox clearly didn’t like the double standard.

“Is anybody surprised??? Black basketball players “shut up and dribble”

White football player who agrees with her “he’s allowed to have his view” & “this is beyond football” and it’s so natural to them,” Fox commented.

James also responded to Ingraham.

Brees has been scrutinized over the last two days for his comments regarding kneeling during the national anthem. 

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said during the interview.

Brees’ statements have caused an outpouring of responses, including an emotional video posted by his teammate, Malcolm Jenkins.

[RELATED: Poole: Brees reveals that he's part of problem, not solution]

Like many people, Fox has become more active over the last week on social media regarding racial injustice as protests rage worldwide after George Floyd's tragic death while in Minneapolis police custody. He’s finding his voice in a critical time in history.

Kings in NBA playoff picture, but tough schedule lies ahead in restart

Kings in NBA playoff picture, but tough schedule lies ahead in restart

The format is set. The NBA is returning. How will all of this play out for the Sacramento Kings?

What we now know is that every team invited to Orlando will play an eight-game schedule that according to reports, is based directly off their remaining schedule prior to the league's coronavirus suspension.

If the NBA decides to restart from where the season left off, the Kings' schedule is manageable. Keep in mind that every team invited to the tournament is either a playoff team or one on the fringe.

Sacramento will miss out on contests against the Hawks, Cavs (two times), T-Wolves and Warriors. They also won’t have to face the Clippers, Nuggets and Lakers twice.

Here is a quick look at the games on the docket for the Kings, if the league follows the pre-existing remaining schedule:

New Orleans Pelicans

The Kings were amped up to play the Pelicans on March 11. So much so that they remained on the court while New Orleans sat in their locker room at Golden 1 Center. They’ll get their shot at Zion Williamson and Co. right off the bat, which might determine the fate of both of these teams.

Season series: 0-1

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn is an interesting team. They play extremely hard every night and they have plenty of star talent, but Kevin Durant isn’t coming back from his Achilles injury to play in a shortened season and it’s unlikely that Kyrie Irving (shoulder) returns either. Spencer Dinwiddie has played well in Irving’s absence, but this is a must-win for the Kings if they hope to make it to the play-in game.

Season series: 0-1

[RELATED: NBA return: Five things to watch as Kings get invite to Orlando restart]

Dallas Mavericks

The ghost of draft picks past. Sacramento will draw Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks as their third game of the restart. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis were finding a rhythm when the shutdown hit, although Dallas was just 4-4 over their previous eight games.

Season series: 1-2

Houston Rockets

On Dec. 8 the Kings walked into Dallas and stunned the Mavericks. The next night, they did the same thing to the Houston Rockets. Sacramento could use a repeat of that two-game stretch. The Rockets are the best team the Kings face in their eight-game schedule. Plan on a hundred combined 3-point shots between the two clubs.

Season series: 1-1

Orlando Magic

Does home court advantage matter when there are no fans? We’ll find out as the Magic hosts all 22 teams. This is a tough team to figure out. They have talent and length, but at 30-35, they have the worst record of any team the Kings will face. Jonathan Isaac was ruled out for the rest of the season before the shutdown, but there is a shot he returns with the extra time added on.

Season series: 0-1


Zion. Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram. Jrue Holiday. Tiebreakers at stake. Both of the games against New Orleans are paramount to the Kings’ chances. The Pelicans will get JJ Redick back from his hamstring injury, which adds to the difficulty.

Season series: 0-1

Indiana Pacers

The last time the Kings played Indy, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley just were coming off of injuries and the Pacers took advantage. Indy is tough and Victor Olidipo getting an additional four months to completely recover from injury makes them even more difficult. Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren all give the Kings fits, which makes this one of the more difficult games on the schedule.

Season series: 0-1

San Antonio Spurs

If the Kings and Spurs still are in the hunt at this point in the schedule, there is a chance that this game could pit a team with a 13-year playoff drought against a franchise trying to preserve a streak of 22 straight seasons in the postseason. A lot has to happen for this game to have meaning, but you never know which teams come to Orlando ready to compete and which teams wilt under the pressure.

Season series: 1-1

Sacramento is just 3-9 against this group, but that means very little when you factor in a four-month layoff. This race to the finish likely will be decided by who walks into the gym focused and ready to play from game one.

If the Kings have a shot, they need somehow to overtake the Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers in the standings, while remaining within 3.5 games of the Grizzlies and ahead of both the Spurs and the Suns.

It’s complicated and there still is a chance the NBA adjusts the Kings’ schedule slightly, but the Kings are in the running.