Kings takeaways: What we learned in 132-131 preseason loss to Pacers

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 132-131 preseason loss to Pacers

The Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers faced off early Friday morning for the first of two preseason games in Mumbai, India. The historic event marked the first official NBA game played live in India, a country with a population of just over 1.35 billion.

It was an entertaining battle between two up-and-coming teams that spilled into overtime. After leading by as many as 21 points early in the game, the Kings struggled to close out the game in the fourth and had to play catch up in the extra frame.

Despite a spirited effort, the Kings couldn’t get the big stop when they needed it, and they fell 132-131.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings open their 2019-20 preseason schedule with a loss.

They are who we thought they were

Running. Gunning. Gunning. Running. The Kings put on an offensive show, especially in the first half when they dropped 72 points on the Pacers. They ran the floor, found the open man and buried shots from the outside.

De’Aaron Fox set the tempo early, breaking down Indiana’s defense and finding his shooters for open looks. Buddy Hield launched from everywhere on the court, Harrison Barnes came up with the big shots and Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench to provide the spark

. This is what Kings basketball is going to look like this season. Win or lose, it should be a fun brand of basketball to watch.

Mr. Holmes, I presume

In case you didn’t know his name before, Richaun Holmes put on a show in his first game in a Sacramento Kings uniform.

The 25-year-old center out of Bowling Green loves to play in the pick-and-roll and he plays with intensity and energy. Known for his ability to hammer the ball down in the two-man game, Holmes showed off his defensive skills as well. He stood his ground against Domantas Sabonis, rotated to cut off the baseline and made a couple of nice recovery shot blocks.

On the offensive end, the former Sun scored 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting in 19 minutes to go with four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Holmes is in a competition with Harry Giles for minutes off the bench at the five. Giles missed the trip to India with knee soreness.

[RELATED: Why Walton doesn't think India trip will disrupt Kings' plans]

Let it fly

Head coach Luke Walton has to love the early showing of his new club. Not only did they push the tempo and get up and down the floor, but they launched and hit from the perimeter all game long.

The Kings knocked down 15-for-36 from behind the arc, outscoring the Pacers 45-30 from distance.

Walton has made it clear that he wants more 3-pointers this season. He set the mark of 35 attempts per game earlier in the week.

His team fell slightly short of the goal in regulation, but managed to get there in OT. Hield led the way with four makes and Bogdanovic added three, but it was a team effort. Eight different Kings knocked down a triple, including Yogi Ferrell who buried a half-court shot at the buzzer to end the first half.

Kings take trip to Folsom Prison, Luke Walton suits up for justice reform


Kings take trip to Folsom Prison, Luke Walton suits up for justice reform

SACRAMENTO -- It wasn’t your typical Thursday evening. Instead of sitting at home and taking in a few extra minutes of NBA basketball, I dressed in a mandated all black outfit and headed to Folsom Prison to watch Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton play basketball with and against a group of incarcerated men.

The basketball was sloppy but entertaining. The emcee of the event wandered around the court making up nicknames for the players like “Skilz," “The ponytailed gangsta” and everyone’s personal favorite, “white shadow.”

There were no fights or risk of danger. A few hundred of the estimated 2,400 residents of the prison sat in the stands eating popcorn and cotton candy and cheering everything from dunks, to the tap dancers at halftime to Vivek Ranadivé, Vlade Divac, Marvin Bagley, Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelica, who were in attendance. 

Before taking the court, players and management met with individuals in a closed-door session. Media members were not allowed in, but Bagley gave a glimpse into what the conversation was about.

“We had a round table discussion earlier before we got to the court, we were sitting in a circle and one of the things I was saying was that basketball isn’t going to be forever it’s something that I do right now, but I’m a person first, just like everybody here,” Bagley said. “To be able to share love, show love, no matter what you’re doing or what you did in the past, no matter what you’re in here for, everybody has an opportunity to move forward and love. I think if we all continue to love one another and have positivity in the world, we’ll get to a place where there’s not as much silly, craziness going on.”

The Kings’ 20-year-old power forward is just starting out on his NBA journey, which will include all kinds of opportunities to get involved and use his platform in unique ways. He was on the sidelines dancing and greeting players coming off the court. He even went over to the stands after the event and took pictures.

“I can’t even really put it into words, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Bagley said. “Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never been to a prison before. You always hear about it and see it movies, but to walk through and see what it’s like, it was definitely eye-opening and something I’ll remember.”

Photo via Sacramento Kings

Opened in 1880, Folsom is a level 2-3 prison. While there are lifers mixed amongst the population, many of the residents will someday find their way back into society, which was the focus of the event.

“Through art, storytelling, and values-based conversations focused on redemption, mercy, and the possibility of a second chance, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, in partnership with One Community, will aim to humanize incarcerated individuals in the media and public opinion,” the team’s official press release said.

The event was co-sponsored by the Kings, the Milwaukee Bucks and the REPRESENT JUSTICE campaign and it won’t be the last event like this that the Kings will be involved with.

“We're proud to be the first participant in the Play for Justice initiative, which is shining a bright light on the unique issues facing incarcerated people in communities around the country,” Ranadivé said in a prepared statement. “Sports franchises have a unique opportunity to bring about positive change, which is why in the past year, the Kings and the Bucks brought together leaders from across two cities to share best practices and find new solutions to social injustices. This collaboration with REPRESENT JUSTICE is another example of how we can use our platforms for good.”

[RELATED: Holmes comes up clutch on Kings' final possession]

According to the team’s press release, “The games are part of the Campaign’s efforts to engage audiences and spark collective action to demand a fair legal system, dignity for system-impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentencing.”

The game was played outdoors under a makeshift tent brought in by the Kings. Walton’s team came away with the victory, but he was too winded to speak to the media after the game. He had a few dunks, but he looked every bit the part of a 39-year-old who retired from the game six years ago.

Kings' Richaun Holmes continues to shine after crucial stop vs. Thunder

Kings' Richaun Holmes continues to shine after crucial stop vs. Thunder

NBA team used to try to post up 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas during his time with the Sacramento Kings. More often than not, they came up empty.

Thomas is stronger than he looks and a lot of guards aren’t comfortable playing in the post, regardless of who they are guarding.

Teams have tried to reverse this trend in the last few seasons in the league. Instead of isolating smaller players in the post, they instead try to drag bigs out to the perimeter and then take advantage of their often inferior lateral quickness.

That was the gameplan Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. With 13.4 seconds on the clock, the Thunder made sure the ball was in Chris Paul’s hand and then worked to get the switch they were looking for.

OKC then spaced the floor, isolating Paul on center Richaun Holmes and having him go one-on-one with the 6-foot-10 big.

“You’ve just got to guard,” Holmes told NBC Sports California. “Chris Paul is a Hall of Famer, a very smart player and you’ve just got to make him as uncomfortable as possible.”

Paul started on the left elbow and crossed over Holmes while sliding to the right elbow. The 6-foot-1 guard tried to step back and fall away to create space, but Holmes stayed with him stride for stride.

“You don’t want to let your teammates down, so I was just trying to make him take as tough a shot as possible and that’s what I was able to do,” Holmes added.

Paul’s 15-foot jumper barely cleared the outstretched right arm of Holmes and hit the front rim. Harrison Barnes flew in for the rebound and the Kings came away with the 94-93 win.

It’s a lot of pressure to put on a center, but head coach Luke Walton has trust in Holmes. The crowd was on their feet begging for one more stop. While Paul is dancing around waiting for an opening, you can see the Kings locked up in man-to-man coverage, leaving Holmes alone on an island.

“I could feel the energy come up,” Holmes said of the crowd. “We were able to rally around that. It was a good feeling. It was a good feeling to come out there and even a better feeling to come away with the win.”

Trevor Ariza is in the post fighting with Steven Adams, Bogdan Bogdanovic is boxing out Danilo Gallinari and both Barnes and Cory Joseph stayed tight on their men on the perimeter.

“Yeah, he’s impressive,” Walton said of Holmes. “He’s been impressive all year. I look back at that first win we were able to get against Utah here and he switched out on [Donovan] Mitchell in that game and made a great defensive contest. He’s been one of the main points with our defense turning around where it has from the start of the season to now.”

Sacramento was atrocious on the defensive end during their 0-5 start to the season, but they’ve turned things around. The Kings currently allow the 13th-most points per game at 108.3 and they are 19th in defensive rating. There is plenty more room for improvement, but they are winning games with their defense for the first time in years.

The Kings now have won three in a row against quality opponents by a combined six points. All three games came down to the final seconds.

“It’s the NBA, we’re competing, they’re competing,” Holmes said. “The last few games we’ve been going down to the wire. That’s what you live for. You live for the opportunity to be out there on the floor and make the play. I enjoy every minute of it.”

[RELATED: Bagley's 'best basketball yet to come' after his Kings return]

The schedule gets lighter over the next few games, but the Kings are not in a position to let up. They’ve almost recovered completely from their abysmal start to the season and are starting to get healthy at the right time.

Getting Marvin Bagley back may change Holmes’ role slightly with the team, but he earns every minute with his play on both ends of the court. His defense against Paul was just a small sample of what the Kings have seen throughout the first quarter of the season from their starting center.