Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in dominant preseason win vs. Jazz

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Kings takeaways: What we learned in dominant preseason win vs. Jazz

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Every game is an opportunity to get better. On Monday night in Salt Lake City, the Kings got better.

Sacramento pushed the tempo early and often and ran the Utah Jazz off the court in a 128-115 win. The Kings scored 78 points in a wild first half of action to take a big lead after 24 minutes. 

Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah, scoring 22 points in 28 minutes. Rudy Gobert added 17 points and six rebounds, but the Jazz’s duo weren’t nearly enough to keep up with the high-powered Kings. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings improved to .500 this preseason.

Buddy and Bags

The Kings can flat-out score the ball, which the Jazz were reminded of on their home court. While six Sacramento players scored in double figures, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley stood out.

Hield used a variety of moves to create space and hit open jumpers. He finished with 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Hield also chipped in five assists and grabbed three rebounds in the win. 

With Hield launching from the perimeter, Bagley went to work inside. The 20-year-old power forward posted a second straight double-double, scoring 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks.

Plan C

De'Aaron Fox is the Kings' "Plan A" at point guard, while veteran Cory Joseph is "Plan B." With Joseph missing his third straight game with a calf injury and Fox sidelined with a sore back in the third quarter, coach Luke Walton might have revealed Sacramento's "Plan C" -- and it wasn't Yogi Ferrell.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Kings’ Swiss army knife, stepped in alongside Hield and went to work. Bogdanovic initially put his scoring on hold and set up his teammates for a team-high eight assists in 28 minutes of action. 

The Kings’ sixth-man got going late to chip in 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and he grabbed five rebounds to add to the big night.

[RELATED: Kings' switching defense dependent on better communication]

Switch

While the offense outburst was impressive from the Kings, the focus continues to be on the defensive end. After installing a base defense in the opening days of camp, Walton and his staff began integrating some switching principles over the last few days.

Due to their size, athleticism and shooting ability, the Jazz is a difficult team to switch on. That didn’t stop the Kings from trying it at times Monday. 

The Jazz managed to score 115 points on the Kings while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. Of course the Kings were successful on the offensive end as well, hitting a very good Jazz team for 128 points. 

It’s clear the Kings defense is behind the offense, but they're building chemistry and showing signs of improvement.

Kings blessed by 'basketball gods' in dramatic win against Celtics

Kings blessed by 'basketball gods' in dramatic win against Celtics

SACRAMENTO -- Front rim, backboard, front rim, front rim, front rim ... out.

An entire arena filled with fans went silent for what seemed to be 10 seconds as Marcus Smart’s runner in the lane sat on the front rim. If it rolled in, the collective sigh from almost 17,000 fans would have been heard all the way to Boston.

But that’s not what happened.

“Please roll out, please roll out, please roll out,” Richaun Holmes said. “And it finally did. But it seemed like forever.”

The Sacramento Kings stunned the Celtics Sunday afternoon, snapping Boston's 10-game win streak with a 100-99 victory. The win moved the Kings within two games of .500 on the season, but it wasn’t without drama.

“Finally the basketball gods, they were on our side,” Nemanja Bjelica said. “We think we deserve that the way we are breaking out and how much time we spend together. Winning is fun.”

The victory was a big one for the Kings who were coming off a controversial two-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday evening. It took a team effort from the Kings to pick up their fifth victory of the season.

Buddy Hield was a flamethrower from the perimeter, finishing with a season-high 35 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and added 10 assists. Bjelica finished with a double-double and when the game was on the line, Holmes came up huge.

A reserve to begin the season, Holmes is settling into the starting line-up for head coach Luke Walton. He scored a modest nine points, but two of those came in the final moments of the game and gave the Kings the lead.

With under 15 seconds remaining and the Celtics up one, Smart grabbed a rebound in the key off of a Kemba Walker miss. Smart went back up with it, but Holmes swiped at the shot attempt and then came away with the miss.

In the ensuing chaos, Smart wrapped up the Kings’ center trying to get a jump ball call. After review, Smart was assessed a foul and the Celtics were already in the penalty.

“Marcus Smart came in and got a ridiculous offensive rebound - he came flying in,” Holmes said. “I just tried to find the ball and make a play on it. Luckily we were able to get the rebound, able to get the foul, able to knock down two free throws.”

Holmes, a career 70.7 percent shooter from the free-throw line, stepped to the stripe with 13.3 seconds remaining and hit the pair that gave the Kings the 100-99.

Holmes played a crucial role in the final play as well. With 13.3 seconds remaining and trailing by one, Walker brought the ball up. He tried to shake Cory Joseph, but the Kings’ starting point guard forced him to give the ball up to Smart.

Smart burst down the lane, but Holmes flew in trying to block his shot and made the play more difficult.

“That’s my job, to try to protect the rim as much as possible,” Holmes said. “That ball hung on the rim for I don’t know how long. Luckily it bounced out and we were able to get the win.”

It was a tremendous effort from the 26-year-old big. His numbers might not jump off the page, but in the final moments, he protected the rim twice, grabbed the deciding rebound and iced the freebies from the line.

[RELATED: Kings take leap of faith betting on young core]

This was the first time at the NBA level that Holmes has been credited with the game-winning points that put his team ahead. The last time he had experienced anything like it was during his last year at Bowling Green when he hit a game-winning lay-up against Detroit Mercy.

After a brutal 0-5 start to the season, the Kings are now 5-2 over their last seven games. They’ll face the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, who are a surprising 7-4 on the season. The Suns play the Celtics on Monday night before facing the Kings on the second night of a back-to-back.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 100-99 win vs. Celtics

Kings takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 100-99 win vs. Celtics

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Every once in a while, the Sacramento Kings get a roll to go their way. That was the case Sunday as Marcus Smart’s buzzer-beating floater sat on the rim for an eternity, before falling out. 

Golden 1 Center went crazy as the Kings stunned the Boston Celtics by a final of 100-99.

Buddy Hield starred in the game, but it was a rebound and a pair of free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining from big man Richaun Holmes that set up the final dramatic play.

On the final possession for Boston, the Kings stopped Kemba Walker on a drive. He found Smart at the elbow and the Celtic’s guard made a break for the rim. In a rare moment of luck for the home team, the shot didn’t fall and the fans exploded with cheers. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings shocked the best team in the Eastern Conference to improve to 5-7 on the season.  

Buddy came to play

The Kings leading scorer didn’t disappoint during Sunday’s matinee. Needing a boost in a tough defensive matchup, Hield got hot from behind the arc to help keep his team in the game throughout the night.

Hield dropped in 16 points in the first half, backed that up with 11 in the third quarter to give him 27 heading into the fourth.

Boston made a concerted effort to limit him in the final frame, but Hield still finished with a game-high 35 points on 7-of-12 shooting from long range. He also grabbed six rebounds and picked up four steals in 38 minutes of action.

Set em’ up, knock em’ down

Bogdan Bogdanovic created for others early, matching his season-high of 10 assists. Once his teammates were properly fed, he went to work on his own game.

After scoring just two points through three quarters, Bogdanovic hit the Celtics for 10 in the deciding fourth quarter. 

Bogdanovic has a really good feel for the game. He seems to know what his team needs every game and then fills the void. 

You gotta Bjelica

Where would the Kings be without Nemanja Bjelica?

There were questions coming into the season whether Bjelica would be in the Kings’ rotation. 12 games into the season, he’s one of the team’s most valuable players.

[RELATED: NBA admits LeBron contact on decisive Lakers-Kings play]

Against Boston, Bjelica notched his second double-double of the season, finishing the night with 12 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and a block.

He’s not going to win any footraces and there are times when he struggles on the defensive end, but the 31-year-old sharpshooter continues to give Luke Walton’s club solid minutes.