Kings

Kings rest three starters on second night of back-to-back in Toronto

foxbjelicaap.jpg
AP

Kings rest three starters on second night of back-to-back in Toronto

Dave Joerger made an executive decision on Tuesday. With the minutes piling up and certain players on his roster starting to show signs of both physical and mental fatigue, Sacramento’s head coach decided to rest a few players.

De’Aaron Fox, Nemanja Bjelica and Iman Shumpert will all miss the game in Toronto, leaving the Kings shorthanded against one of the best the Eastern Conference has to offer.

This is the first game this season that Fox will sit out. The sophomore guard is the driving force behind the Kings offense, but his numbers are noticeably down in the month of January.

The 21-year-old is averaging 14.8 points, 6.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game this month, which are all season lows. He’s shooting just 42 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range over the 11 game stretch.

Like Fox, Bjelica has yet to miss a game this season, but his numbers have fallen off the board in January. The 30-year-old forward is averaging 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 21.9 minutes.

His shooting numbers have suffered a dramatic did as well. He’s shooting just 38.9 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from 3-point range, pushing his season shooting averages down to 48.5 percent overall and 41.9 percent from deep.

Shupert, 28, has already tripled his season minute totals from last year when he played just 14 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since turning the new year, Shumpert is 27 percent from the field and 28.1 from 3-point land in his eight starts.

Yogi Ferrell is scheduled to started in Fox’s place in the backcourt. Rookie Marvin Bagley will pick up his first career start at the four. Super-sub Bogdan Bogdanovic will get the nod at the three.

All three players are expected back in uniform Friday when the Kings face the Memphis Grizzlies for game five of their season-long six game road trip.

With the team having days off on both Wednesday and Thursday, the extra day of rest will give the group a three day break to recharge.

The Raptors are shorthanded as well, missing All-Star Kawhi Leonard (load management), Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) and OG Anunoby (personal).

Kings survive late push from Suns, team win moves them within game of .500

kingshighlightsusatsi.jpg
USATI

Kings survive late push from Suns, team win moves them within game of .500

SACRAMENTO -- Coming out of a busy summer of additions, the Sacramento 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 the Kings are scrambling back towards the .500 mark.

In their 120-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday evening, head coach Luke Walton’s crew almost blew a 26 point lead, but they 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 has flourished. When Dewayne Dedmon struggled with his shot, Richaun Holmes took over the starting center job and is making a huge difference for the Kings. And when 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 Luke Walton, but on Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center his team picked up their sixth win in eight games and they did it with a rotation that is constantly 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 posting a career-high 31 points on 7-of-9 shooting from long range to lead all scorers.

The seven makes from distance was 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.”

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

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 in 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 helped stem the tide momentarily 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. "He can pass the ball, he can playmake, he can just do so many different things. He's very important to this team.”

Sacramento is still developing an identity, but they were solid on defense again and there is always 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.”

The Kings fly out to New York on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for their Friday matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. They’ll play a tough four-game schedule on the road leading up to Thanksgiving, after a rough start to the season, they seem to be back on the right track.

Injury Note

After posting a career night Bogdanovic was forced to leave the game with 1:22 remaining. Following the game, 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.