Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned on 127-101 loss to James Harden, Rockets

Kings takeaways: What we learned on 127-101 loss to James Harden, Rockets

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Sometimes, the emotions of the day get the best of you. With the trade deadline shaking up Sacramento’s locker room, the young Kings looked overwhelmed and outgunned against the Houston Rockets.

Sensing the Kings were vulnerable, superstar James Harden and the veteran Rockets throttled the home team early and came away with a dominant 127-101 victory.

The loss snapped Sacramento’s seven-game home winning streak, which was their longest since 2006.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings fell to 28-26 on the season:

The Harden Effect

Harden is walking away with the NBA's MVP award this season, and it’s not even close. The veteran shooting guard loves to hoist up as many shots as he can get his hands on, and he finds a way to put the ball in the basket on most nights.

He started out strong against Sacramento, scoring 25 points in the first half. He kept chucking late, despite the game being well out of reach, finishing with 36 points on 13-of-26 from the field and 8-of-13 from long range.  

Burned by the Triple

Harden isn’t the only player on Houston who likes to shoot the long ball. Coach Mike D’Antoni has a whole group of shooters to and none of them mind tossing it up.

As a team, the Rockets finished the night 20-of-51 from behind the arc. Gerald Green hit 4-of-9 from deep. Eric Gordon went 4-for-10 and Austin Rivers chipped in a pair of makes.

[RELATED: Buddy, Steph betting favorites to win 3-Point Contest]

Frank Mason Sighting

Mason has struggled to find court time as of late. He’s the fifth guard on the roster, and coach Dave Joerger doesn’t seem to even want to go four deep on some nights.

With a lopsided score, Sacramento’s coach turned to the former Kansas star, and he responded with a nice offensive push. Mason finished the evening with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, including two makes from behind the arc. 

He also went toe-to-toe with Harden in the fourth quarter, after the All-Star took exception to a foul. Despite his size, Mason isn’t one to back down from anyone. 

NBA Power Rankings 2019: Standing of every team at All-Star break

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USATSI

NBA Power Rankings 2019: Standing of every team at All-Star break

Welcome to another week of Power Rankings! We’re nearing the home stretch and very little is decided outside of the Warriors dominance.

There are surprising teams and some major disappointments. One of the biggest surprises is in Sacramento. 

Nobody expected the Kings to be in playoff contention. But at 30-27, the young squad is just one game back of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with 25 games to go. 

[RELATED: De'Aaron Fox sends message on potential Kings-Warriors playoff series]

Here is where the league stands heading into the All-Star break:

VIEW THE POWER RANKINGS HERE

De'Aaron Fox sends message on potential Kings-Warriors playoff series

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AP

De'Aaron Fox sends message on potential Kings-Warriors playoff series

With a trip to All-Star weekend comes the barrage of media conversations. The Kings are a hot topic and De’Aaron Fox might be the belle of the ball.

After a brutal 120-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday evening, Fox was already sitting in front of a camera having conversations Thursday morning.

“We feel like we’re in a great position,” Fox said on ESPN’s First Take. “There’s been a lot of games that we’ve dropped that we probably shouldn’t have lost and there are games that we won, that we probably shouldn’t have won. But with 25 games left, I feel like we’re getting better and better.

"Marvin [Bagley] is growing throughout this year. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the eight seed, if not, even the seven.”

Confidence has never been an issue with Fox. The 21-year-old has a moxie to him that makes him a natural born leader and he backs it up with a great work ethic.

With the Kings just a game out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase, Fox was asked about a potential matchup with the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

“I think every team can be beat,” Fox said. “We’ve played them three times this year already. I think we lost by a combined eight points and all three of those games, we probably had the game, but Boogie [DeMarcus Cousins] didn’t play. He adds an entirely different dynamic to that team, but like I said, everybody is human, so every team can be beat on any given day.”

Fox was off by a couple of points. The Kings have lost all three games this season to the Warriors by a combined 10 points, although they held leads in the fourth quarter in all of them.

The Kings were a Bagley tip-in from winning one game. Buddy Hield had shots in the final minute to either tie or win the other two games.  

Sacramento will get one last look at the champs next Thursday coming out of the All-Star break.

In his sophomore season in the league, Fox has taken incredible strides. Going into the All-Star break, he’s averaging 17.2 points and 7.2 assists while shooting 36.6 percent from 3-point range.

After shooting just 30.7 percent from long range last season, Fox was asked about his improved shooting stroke by Max Kellerman.

“All summer, I just shot the ball, that’s all it is, it’s all about work, it doesn’t just come overnight,” Fox said. “All summer, that’s literally all I did. I didn’t work on ball handling, I had that. I didn’t work on athleticism, I had that. I just worked on my strength and shooting the ball. That’s all I did the entire summer.”

In a ranging conversation, Fox gave Giannis Antetokounmpo his nod for the NBA’s MVP award. He spoke on the 2017 NBA Draft and why he might have been the third point guard taken. Lastly, he was asked about the Kings future and whether he and his teammates have spoken on sticking together for the long haul.

“It definitely comes up,” Fox said. “With Buddy in his third year and Marvin in his first year, me in my second and what we’re able to do already - we’re definitely competing. We go out every game, we’re competing against some of the best.”

Kellerman, a renowned Lakers fan, finished the interview by loudly proclaiming, “I can’t wait until you’re a Laker.”

[RELATED: Breaking down Kings' chances to break 12-year NBA playoff drought]

Fox replied quickly, “I don’t know about that one.”

Sacramento has put Fox as the centerpiece to their rebuild and through the first season and a half, he’s exceeding expectations. Sacramento fans can have confidence going out and buying a No. 5 jersey, Fox isn’t going anywhere for a long time.