Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 124-120 loss to champion Raptors

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 124-120 loss to champion Raptors

BOX SCORE

Running with the Champs. 

The Kings went down big early, but fought their way back on the road Wednesday against the defending NBA champions. In the end, the Toronto Raptors made plays when they needed it and came away with a 124-120 victory.

Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam put up big numbers for the Raptors' starting unit, and Serge Ibaka scored 21 points off coach Nick Nurse’s bench. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings had their two-game win streak snapped and dropped to 2-6 to start the season.  

Let it fly

The Raptors left the Kings open on the perimeter all game long, daring them to shoot it from deep. That is exactly what Sacramento did. 

The Kings took 44 3-point attempts, tying a franchise record with 20 makes.

Bogdan Bogdanovic knocked down 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, Buddy Hield went 5-for-7 and five other Kings players hit at least one 3-pointer. 

Barnes goes big

Harrison Barnes is quietly building some momentum. The veteran forward played a team-high 38 minutes Wednesday and made the most of his time on the floor.

Needing a presence inside, the Kings routinely dropped the ball into Barnes down low. Barnes finished with 26 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He was physical against the Raptors' big front line, hitting 8-of-10 from the line.

Barnes chipped in four rebounds, two assists and a block, and he didn't turn the ball over once. 

[RELATED: Why Hield has such high hopes for Fox's bright NBA future]

Loose handles

De’Aaron Fox came into the evening averaging a career-worst 3.6 turnovers per game through the first seven contests. That number took another hit against the Raptors.

In 34 minutes of action, Fox turned the ball over seven times. He was sloppy with the ball from the opening tip, and it didn’t improve as the game went on.

Coach Luke Walton is asking a lot of his young point guard, but Fox has to do a better job of valuing the ball. Fox still managed to finish the evening with 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. 

Kings' Nemanja Bjelica, Bogdan Bogdanovic deliver in win over Blazers

Kings' Nemanja Bjelica, Bogdan Bogdanovic deliver in win over Blazers

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are not accepting condolence cards.

Despite an atrocious 0-5 start to the season and major injuries to both forward Marvin Bagley and point guard De’Aaron Fox, the Kings refuse to give up on the final 70-plus games of the season. The Portland Trail Blazers learned that lesson on Tuesday evening at Golden 1 Center.

It took a full 48 minutes, but the Kings staved off the Blazers late to come away with a 107-99 victory in front of an appreciative home crowd.

With two of their top scorers on the shelf, the Kings need more from every member of the rotation. Against a Portland team that made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, it was a pair of Serbian national team teammates that came to play.

Nemanja Bjelica was the only Kings player that could find the bottom of the net in the first 8:41 of the first quarter. The 31-year-old forward scored seven of the team’s first eight points, with Richaun Holmes putting in a lone free throw as Sacramento fell behind 18-8 early.

“Bjeli started off well and everybody is staying together as a group and just connecting with each other and supporting each other,” Buddy Hield said.

Bjelica posted his first double-double of the season, finishing the evening with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes.

The veteran big started the game well and then came to the rescue late with a 26-foot three-pointer to give Sacramento an eight-point lead with 2:37 remaining in the fourth.

“Great win, especially in front of our fans,” Bjelica said. “I mean, we’re always talking about is we want to make the playoffs, we need to win every game at home, so it is very important for us.”

Needing a spark to wake up the offense, coach Luke Walton turned to the Kings’ other Serbian-born player, Bogdan Bogdanovic. The third-year wing changed the entire momentum of the game with his defense, scoring ability and playmaking.

Bogdanovic picked up three steals in just under six minutes of play in the first quarter and matched his career-high with four steals on the night.

On the offensive end, Bogdanovic hit Portland with a team-high 25 points, including 15 in the first half while the Kings were struggling to keep up.

“He’s fun to watch, man,” Hield said of Bogdanovic. “Playing with him, he’s such a good passer. He’s a good playmaker and he’s always about team. You see him making shots and scoring, but he’s always a team-first guy.”

With Fox sidelined, Bogdanovic took the reigns of the offense. He finished with 10 assists in 32 minutes of action and during crunch time, he made the right plays when it mattered.

“I think I’m an experienced player and I can adjust to any role here,” Bogdanovic said. “I’m just trying to help the team to get these wins and tonight it was 10 assists. I’m more happy with the win.”

It was Bogdanovic who fed Bjelica for the open three in the fourth. He had another pass to Cory Joseph for a three at the 2:01 mark of the fourth and he found a cutting Harrison Barnes with 1:30 remaining to help seal the win.

Bjelica and Bogdanovic put up the big numbers, but it was a team effort for Sacramento.

Hield struggled with his shot, but still managed to post 20 points on the evening. Barnes went scoreless in the first half but finished with 16 after a strong final 24 minutes. Joseph played solid defense on Damian Lillard and Richaun Holmes chipped in the team’s third double-double with an 11-point, 10-rebound, two-block performance.

[RELATED: What we learned as Kings take down Blazers without Fox]

The Kings have a long road in front of them, but they are playing a better brand of basketball after a tough start and they are starting to show improvements on both ends of the court. With the win, Sacramento is now 4-1 over their previous five games and they’ve climbed to 4-6 on the season.

They’ll have a much tougher test on Friday when they fly to Los Angeles to face LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the 8-2 Lakers.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in balanced 107-99 win over Blazers

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AP

Kings takeaways: What we learned in balanced 107-99 win over Blazers

BOX SCORE

No Fox? No problem.

Playing the first of what could be many games without their star young point guard De’Aaron Fox, the Kings were the aggressor Tuesday evening at Golden 1 Center in a matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum put up big numbers for Portland, but the Kings received huge baskets late from Nemanja Bjelica and Cory Joseph late to come away with a 107-99 victory over the Blazers. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings picked up their fourth win in five games to improve to 4-6 on the season.  

Active

With De’Aaron Fox on the shelf, the Kings need everyone to step up if they hope to compete. Against the Blazers, that player that shined the brightest was Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Sacramento’s super-sub put on a show from the moment he stepped on the floor. He wreaked havoc on the defensive end, coming away with four steals. 

On the offensive end, he scored 15 of his 25 points in the first quarter, when very few of his teammates could buy a bucket. Bogdanovic shot 8-for-19 from the field on the evening, including 3-of-8 from long range. He also chipped in a team-high 10 assists. 

If the Kings are going to survive the Fox injury, Bogdanovic needs to play like this every night.

Double-Doubles

When the season started, Bjelica and Richaun Holmes were supposed to be the Kings’ two bigs off the bench. We're a few weeks into the season, and the duo now is doing damage for Sacramento’s starting unit.

Bjelica was active early, hitting a pair of shots to get the Kings’ scoring going. He played well for stretches throughout the game, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.

With Bjelica working the perimeter, Holmes went to work in the paint, dropping in 11 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes. 

The two bigs complement each other well on the court. 

[RELATED: Kings rise in latest NBA power rankings]

If at first you don’t succeed, keep chucking

The basket looked extra small when Buddy Hield took shots in the first half against the Blazers. The Kings’ sharpshooter missed his first two 3-point attempts so badly it was as if he was aiming at the wrong basket.

Eventually, Hield settled in, hitting a pair of 3-balls in the third quarter to get going. He finished the night with 20 points on 7-for-21 shooting from the field and just 2-of-11 from 3-point range.

With Fox out, the Kings need Hield to shoot. It helps when it goes in, but just the threat of one of the game’s best shooters is enough to help the team on some nights.