Kings stumble after underestimating, disrespecting depleted Heat

Kings stumble after underestimating, disrespecting depleted Heat

SACRAMENTO -- Two teams playing on a second night of a back-to-back walked into Golden 1 Center Wednesday night. One team was playing to strengthen their playoff position after a huge win the night before. The other team was an undermanned 10-win team struggling to field an 8-man rotation.  

“A team that’s so decimated by injuries, I think we underestimated them,” veteran Garrett Temple said. “They got a lot of easy early on - a lot of easy 3’s. And when you give give a team hope, they are NBA players and they can play the game.”

The Sacramento Kings are running out of excuses for why they play down to their competition. The stunning 107-102 loss to the Miami Heat Wednesday was just another in a long list of winnable games this season that Sacramento let slip through its fingers.

What’s worse is that the Kings made a tremendous run, like they usually do. This time it was solely on the back of their second unit, who used a 19-0 run to erase a 19-point third quarter deficit. They even took a lead in the fourth quarter and then Dave Joerger turned back to a group of starters that had struggled mightily all night long.

With 8:23 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Kings leading 91-89, Joerger inserted DeMarcus Cousins and Matt Barnes into the game for Kosta Koufos and Anthony Tolliver. Four minutes later, Sacramento’s momentum was gone and they trailed 98-93.

Coach Dave Joerger gave his take during the post game interview.

“Fatigue, guys were out of gas - second night of a back-to-back,” Joerger said as to why he made the switch.

Whatever magic the Kings had captured quickly dissipated. It’s not an indictment on Cousins or Barnes, more on the flow of the game. Something was working and then it was gone.

Cousins was in no mood to talk to the media following the loss and neither were most of his teammates.

“No excuses,” Cousins said when asked whether fatigue played a role in the loss.

Temple took it a step further, completely destroying the notion that fatigue played a role.

“That’s B.S., if there was no camera, I’d use the whole word,” Temple said when asked about Joerger’s fatigue comment. “They were off a back-to-back as well. There was nothing about fatigue. Nobody plays 38 minutes a game on this team.”

“I don’t think we respected them early on and let them get hot and then it became a game,” Temple added.

A straight shooter, Temple played a huge role in the comeback. He finished the night with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed three steals in 31 minutes off the bench. He was part of a group that energized the team both in the first half and second half after sluggish starts by the first team.

“I’m very disappointed, the most disappointed I’ve been this season,” Temple said. “This is a game we have to win. After a big game in Denver to get that eight seed and then come in here against a decimated Miami Heat team that’s coming on a back-to-back as well - so that’s no excuse. This is a game we have to get. We’ve just got to get it. We can’t lose games like this. I just hope it doesn’t come back to bite us.”

Ty Lawson was a spark plug off the bench as well, scoring 15 points and handing out six assists in 29 minutes. Arron Afflalo had another solid game with the second group, scoring 15 points on 3-of-3 shooting from downtown. Tolliver chipped in 14 on 5-for-6 shooting.

The second unit scored a season-high 61 points and it could have been more.

With the loss, Sacramento fell to 15-20 on the season and wasted a valuable opportunity to go up two games on the Portland Trail Blazers, who lost to the Golden State Warriors.

The Kings return to the court Friday evening to face another injury depleted team in the Los Angeles Clippers before the schedule gets dramatically more difficult.

Grayson Allen excited to face Bagley, Giles: Harry 'incredibly tough mentally'


Grayson Allen excited to face Bagley, Giles: Harry 'incredibly tough mentally'

SACRAMENTO -- It’s a Blue Devils party Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center. Not one, not two, but three Duke players prepare to take an NBA court in a regular season for the first time, including two from the Sacramento Kings and one from the Utah Jazz. 

“It’s a whole bunch of brothers in the NBA,” Harry Giles III said following practice on Tuesday. “We go from college being brothers together, to the league.”

Giles sat out his rookie season last year and is finally ready to make his debut after rehabbing his knees and building up his body. He’ll see time with fellow Duke big man Marvin Bagley III on the Kings’ front line, giving Sacramento an athletic pairing up front for the foreseeable future. 

Overlapping both Giles and Bagley in Durham, North Carolina was shooting guard Grayson Allen. Selected by the Jazz with the 21st overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, Allen, 23 is the elder statesman of the group.

He spent four seasons working with head coach Mike Krzyzewski with the Blue Devils and he’s excited to see his former teammates. 

“More teams than not will have Duke guys, that’s kind of crazy and a lot of will be guys that I played with, so I’ll see this a lot throughout the year,” Allen said.

Allen spent last season watching Bagley go crazy in the ACC. The Kings prized rookie posted 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for Duke as they finished the season with a record of 29-8.

The previous season, Allen watched Giles join the team and then have another set back in his long recovery from bilateral ACL tears.

“He’s incredibly tough mentally and you have to be to do what he’s done - stay a confident basketball player after having so many injuries, so many setbacks,” Allen told NBC Sports California during shoot around Wednesday. “I definitely felt for him when he was at Duke because over the summer he was getting better, you could see what he could do and then something else happens where he has to have a little procedure or something minor.”

Both Bagley and Giles left Allen with vivid memories, but Giles’ struggles and perseverance stood out to the team’s captain. 

“I’m really happy to see him now, last game in the preseason when we played him, I could tell he is comfortable and confident moving around,” Allen said. “He’s getting back to himself. That’s awesome for me to see because I know how good he can be. You see flashes of potential all the time, where you just know he’s a special, talented basketball player. It’s really cool and you just know a guy that’s been through that kind of journey has more mental toughness than pretty much anybody.”

When the ball goes up in the air, it will be all business for the trio of players. They come from one of the best NCAA basketball programs in the country and they’ve been taught by a legendary coach. 

The journey for each is unique. Bagley is the blue chipper looking to make a splash after being taken with the 2nd overall selection over the summer. Allen is the grizzled vet after playing a full four seasons at Duke, and Giles is the comeback kid, trying to prove that he’s back after struggling with injuries over the last three years.

"It's going to be exciting," Bagley said on Monday. "Preseason is over. It's the start of our NBA careers, officially."

Kings vs. Jazz live stream: Watch NBA season opener online on MyTeams

NBC Sports Bay Area

Kings vs. Jazz live stream: Watch NBA season opener online on MyTeams

The Kings haven't made the NBA playoffs in 12 years, and this might not be the season when that drought ends, but their young guns provide hope for future.

Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles are scheduled to make their NBA debuts Wednesday night as the Kings open the 2018-19 season against the Jazz at Golden 1 Center.

Bagley, this year's No. 2 overall draft pick, is motivated to show he's actually the NBA's top rookie, and Giles, the Kings' second first-round pick last year, is eager to display his overall health after he missed all of last season. De'Aaron Fox, the No. 5 pick in last year's draft, joins Bagley and Giles in giving Sacramento three young stars capable of blazing a new path.

Fans wanting to see their new-look team can do so by downloading the MyTeams by NBC Sports app, where they can watch the game live and read the latest insights from Kings insider James Ham.

Here's how you can watch the Kings-Jazz NBA season opener, as well as NBC Sports Bay Area's special one-hour pregame show, live online.

When: 7 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Oct. 17 (pregame show starts at 6 p.m.)
Live Stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app