Kings struggle with communication, physicality in road loss to Jazz

Kings struggle with communication, physicality in road loss to Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY -- On their way to a 15-27 record, the Sacramento Kings have lost in many different ways this season. More often than not, it’s in the closing moments of games that they come up short.

That wasn’t the case Saturday night in Utah. From the opening tip, the Jazz jumped all over the Kings and they refused to let up.

“They’re obviously one of the best teams in the West,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Even though they lost that winning streak against New Orleans, they showed they’re a really good team. After one bad loss at the end, they stepped it up against us and they showed their quality as a team. It’s frustrating, but we gotta look forward from this point. We can’t look back.”

At 29-13, the Jazz are one of the most complete teams in the NBA. They lost their 10 game winning streak Thursday in overtime against the Pelicans, but they are starting to move up the standing in the Western Conference.

With their 123-101 drubbing of the Kings, the Jazz are now just a half-game behind the Nuggets and the Clippers, who are tied for second in the Western Conference standings.

It wasn’t one player that did damage against the Kings. It was all of them.

Rudy Gobert dominated the post, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. With the Kings collapsing to paint trying to stop Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic launched from the outside, hitting 6-of-9 from long range on his way to 30 points.

Donovan Mitchell worked the two-man game with Gobert to finish with 22 points and Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to drop in 20.

“We just have to be more physical on the defensive end,” De’Aaron Fox said. “You know, execute the game plan and live with the results. But I don’t think we did that. You know, Rudy [Gobert] got easy shots, easy layups, easy dunks. You know Bojan [Bogdanovic] got some easy ones. I just think, you know, throughout the game it was too easy for them offensively.”

The ball moved around effortlessly for Utah. They ran their playsets and while there wasn’t a lack of effort from the Kings, they seemed a step slow and completely out of sync.

“We’ve got to talk more, we’ve got to communicate more,” Marvin Bagley said. “Sometimes it happens so fast that we don’t communicate. If we keep allowing that to happen, we’re just going to get beat all game like we did tonight.”

It’s been a difficult season for Sacramento when it comes to injuries to key players. They got Bogdanovic back after a six-game absence with an ankle issue, but they are still missing starting center Richaun Holmes who may be back as early as later this week.

While missed games are part of the issue, the team is trying not to use it as an excuse.

“You can’t control the injuries, but we can control how we approach every day in practice, how we come together, how we try to lock in and win,” Bagley added. “I think if we continue to focus on what we control, then we’ll be alright and we’ll to where we want to be.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier over the next few games. The Kings fly to Miami on Sunday where they’ll face a Miami team that is not on 29-12 on the season, but they are extremely physical.

[RELATED: Fox's development is silver lining in tough season]

Head coach Luke Walton is trying to make adjustments on the fly as he gets players back, but it’s a tall order. You add in Saturday’s trade that once again shook up the roster and the lack of continuity and overall playtime together is tough to overcome. 

With 40 games remaining on the schedule, Walton has no other option but to continue to feed the core minutes together and hope that they find the chemistry that is currently missing on the court. With any luck, the current group stays healthy so the team can assess what they have and what they need heading into the offseason.

Kings guard Kyle Guy reveals his grandfather died from coronavirus


Kings guard Kyle Guy reveals his grandfather died from coronavirus

The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forever changed Kyle Guy's family.

The Kings' second-round draft pick revealed Saturday that his grandfather died Friday night after contracting the virus.

"When I was 7 or 8 my grandpa had me sign a piece of paper saying he’d be my manager (jokingly) if I ever made it to the NBA 😂 something as small as that was always on my mind while I tried to make that dream come true. I know he’s up there waiting for his cut lmao.. and one day, I’ll give it to him ❤️," Guy wrote on Instagram.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 277,205 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and 6,593 deaths in the country.

[RELATED: Kings' former arena to be converted to hospital]

Guy, who grew up in Indianapolis and went to school at the University of Virginia, signed a two-way contract with the Kings in July.

Five things to watch from Kings’ emotional comeback over Timberwolves

Five things to watch from Kings’ emotional comeback over Timberwolves

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Kings’ victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves from Jan. 27, 2020 this afternoon at 3 p.m. on NBC Sports California.

To pass the time while the NBA figures out it’s next moves, NBC Sports California is bringing fans some of the best games from the last few seasons.

In our ninth installment, we go back to earlier this season when the Kings fell behind huge and pulled off an improbable comeback on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

This was an emotional night for both teams. NBA legend Kobe Bryant had passed away the day before. The Timberwolves opened the game with an eight-second violation and the Kings gave it back on a 24-second shot clock violation to pay tribute to Bryant.

While we know the final outcome, sometimes the details are forgotten. Here are five things to watch from the Kings’ 133-127 overtime win over the Timberwolves at the Target Center.

The Decision

99 times out of 100, an NBA head coach pulls his starters when they are down 22 points with six minutes remaining in the fourth. That is not what coach Luke Walton did.

Showing some faith in his team, Walton left his starters in the game and they responded with a 33-11 run over the final 5:42 of the fourth to force overtime.

With momentum on their side, the Kings put the T-Wolves away in the extra five minutes to come away with one of the most stunning recoveries in team history. Sometimes you just have to play out the entire 48 minutes and show respect to the basketball gods.

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Buddy goes big

Buddy Hield can fill it up, but against the T-Wolves, he was on a different level.

In 38 minutes off the bench, Hield posted a career-high 42 points on 14-of-24 from the field and 9-for-14 from behind the arc.

With the Kings trailing big in the fourth, it was Hield who caught fire, scoring 20 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field in the final 10:30 of the game.

With his teammates feeding him the ball at every opportunity, Buddy Buckets put on a show. A lifelong fan of Bryant, Hield had a little extra motivation in this game as well.

Fox misses ... and then doesn’t

It looked like the game was over in the third quarter and the Kings were barely breathing late in the fourth. The team got hot, played defense and had a little luck on their side to help claw back into the game, but they still needed a special play to get over the hump.

With three seconds remaining on the clock, De’Aaron Fox was fouled and sent to the line with his team trailing by three points. The Kings’ starting point guard nailed the first free throw and before the Timberwolves knew what hit them, he threw the ball off the front of the rim, caught it on the way up and scored a layup to tie the game.

Fox finished the game with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He closed out the game with six points in the overtime session to give the Kings the shocking comeback win.

Revenge game

Nemanja Bjelica spent his first three seasons in the NBA playing in Minnesota. He had all but given up on the league after that experience before the Kings talked him into signing a three-year deal.

In the overtime victory, the Kings power forward did a lot of everything. Bjelica knocked down 4-of-6 from long range on his way to 20 points. He added eight assists, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 41 minutes of inspired basketball.

When Bjelica is on, the Kings are a different team.

[RELATED: Former Kings arena turned into coronavirus surge hospital]

Laws of averages

The Timberwolves aren't a great 3-point shooting team, but they were on in this game. The 'Wolves shot an incredible 23-of-46 from 3-point range and that almost carried them to victory.

Andrew Wiggins knocked down seven triples and Robert Covington added six of his own.

Unfortunately for the T-Wolves, they went cold when it mattered, hitting just 2-of-6 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter and 1-of-7 during the overtime session. As quickly as they shot themselves out to a huge lead, the Timberwolves shot themselves right out of the game.