Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in close 129-125 win over Grizzlies

Kings takeaways: What we learned in close 129-125 win over Grizzlies

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Build a lead. Give it back. Build a lead. Give it back.

That was the theme of Thursday night’s battle between the Kings (21-33) and the Memphis Grizzlies (28-26) at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento seemed to have control of the game on multiple occasions, but they never put Memphis away. It almost cost them a very important victory.

Down by as many as 18 in the third and 15 in the fourth, the Grizzlies made it a game late, but Buddy Hield hit free throws and the Kings held on for the 129-125 victory. 

Rookie Ja Morant finished strong and Jaren Jackson Jr. got hot from the perimeter to lead Memphis, but it was De’Anthony Melton off the bench that kept the Grizzlies in the game. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings snap their two-game skid and move to within six games of the Grizzlies in the standings. 

Fresh Legs

Harrison Barnes was showing signs of life before the All-Star break, but his performance early on Thursday evening was just what the Kings needed from their starting small forward.

Barnes knocked down his first five shots, including four 3-pointers in a wild 14 point first quarter. He kept it going in the second quarter, finishing the half with 22 points on 8-of-10 from the floor and 6-for-6 from 3-point range.

If Barnes can come close to hitting the 3-ball as he did against Memphis, it opens up everything for the Kings. He finished the game with 32 points on 11-of-17 from the field and 7-of-11 from behind the arc.

Battle at the point

Morant is the next big thing. Well, unless De’Aaron Fox gets there first.

The two young guards went at each other and the Kings’ speedster came out on top. Fox posted a 26-point, four-assist performance and led his team to victory.

Morant countered with 19 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. He added two assists but also turned the ball over five times.

What Morant has done as a rookie is impressive, but Fox’s maturity and defensive pressure late was a huge factor in this game.

New face

After joining the team at the NBA trade deadline, Jabari Parker made his debut with the Kings on Thursday. He looked every bit the part of a player who’s seen action in one game since Christmas.

Parker missed five of his shots in the first half and took just two points into the intermission. He bounced back in the second half, finishing the night with four points, two assists and four rebounds. He even played a little center when Harry Giles picked up an early fourth foul.

If Parker can round into shape, he gives coach Luke Walton another lively scorer off the bench. If he can’t quickly play himself into NBA game shape, the Kings may need to focus on other options.

Kings' Harrison Barnes to join 'players-only' NBA 2K20 tournament

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USATSI

Kings' Harrison Barnes to join 'players-only' NBA 2K20 tournament

Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we're all finding ways to continue to watch live sports -- well, a derivative of that anyway. 

Video games have been able to create a sense of normalcy during the halt across the sporting world.

The NBA just recently announced the league plans to broadcast a players-only NBA 2K20 tournament. The Kings have representation from their own Harrison Barnes (78 overall rating), The Boardroom announced Tuesday.

Along with Barnes, former Warriors star Kevin Durant (96 rating) will be participating in the tournament along with DeMarcus Cousins (81 rating), Andre Drummond (85 rating) and Donovan Mitchell (87 rating).

The matchup seeds were determined by the player's respective 2K ratings and the tourney is set to begin on Friday.

NBC Sports Bay Area/California asked fans who they would like to play 2K against. Unsurprisingly, Kings fans would want to go up against De’Aaron Fox with Dubs’ faithful wanting to face Steph Curry.

[RELATED: Kings launch initiative to give back to active community]

Both would be equally fun. 

The federal government has extended social distancing to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus to at least April 30, which means there's still plenty of time to continue these tournaments. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to see Steph and Fox play against each other -- with a controller in their hands.

Five moments to remember from Kings' 2018 comeback win over Pelicans

Five moments to remember from Kings' 2018 comeback win over Pelicans

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Kings’ victory over the New Orleans Pelicans from Dec. 23, 2018 tonight at 6 pm PT on NBC Sports California.

The NBA is closed for the next few months, but we have been accessing the archives in search of some of the best games from the last few seasons.

In our seventh installment, we go back to last season, when the Kings trailed by 19 early to the New Orleans Pelicans, but bounced back to come away with a big victory.

While we know the final outcome of the game, sometimes the details become murky over time. Here are five things to watch from the Kings’ 122-117 win over the Pelicans.

First-quarter blues

The Kings had a shocking breakout 2018-19 season, but they struggled with the first quarter in plenty of games early in the season. This game was no exception.

On their home court, the Kings couldn’t find the bottom of the bucket in the first 12 minutes, shooting just 34.6 percent from the field, including a 5-of-18 start from the first team.

The Kings’ poor offense led to a fast beginning for the Pelicans, who led by as many as 19 in the quarter.

Reel em’ in

Sacramento trailed by 11 points at the half and 10 heading toward the fourth quarter. At the 7:37 mark of the fourth, the Pelicans’ Tim Frazier knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead back to 11 points at 105-94, and then the Kings answered.

Between 7:37 and 5:29 in the fourth, a span of two minutes and 18 seconds, the Kings hit the Pelicans with an 11-0 run to tie the game. Sacramento finished on a 28-12 run to finish off New Orleans and come away with the win.

De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic scored nine points each in the fourth and Buddy Hield chipped in eight as the Kings shot as the Kings outscored the visiting team 36-21 in the final 12 minutes. 

The Backcourt

The starting backcourt of Fox and Hield was spectacular in this game. 

Hield led all scorers with 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and 6-of-11 from 3-point range. He chipped in six rebounds in his 37 minutes of action and was the driving force behind the team’s second-half comeback.

Fox didn’t break the 20 point barrier, but he posted a 19-point, 11-assist double-double in the win and he added an incredible chase-down block. When these two pushed the tempo, the Pelicans struggled to keep up.


Bogi off the bench

In addition to the big numbers from the starters, Bogdanovic brought firepower in the backcourt off the bench for coach Dave Joerger’s squad. 

With the starters struggling in the first quarter, Bogdanovic saved the day with a nine-point quarter to get the Kings’ offense going. He finished strong as well for a total of 24 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

It’s hard to beat a team when their three primary guards combine for 71 points.

Free Willie 

Willie Cauley-Stein came to play in this one. The Kings’ starting center at the time posted one of his better outings of the season, finishing with 22 points, 17 rebounds, three steals and a block.

[RELATED: Barnes joins "players-only" NBA 2K20 tournament]

In his four seasons with the Kings, Cauley-Stein struggled with major bouts of inconsistency. He put up one of his best rebounding performances in this game, including nine in the fourth quarter while Sacramento made their comeback.