Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in preseason rout of Maccabi Haifa

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Associated Press

Kings takeaways: What we learned in preseason rout of Maccabi Haifa

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings made their NBA preseason debut at Golden 1 Center on Monday night and took care of business. They shook off a slow start to throttle Maccabi Haifa by a final of 132-100.

It was a team effort for the Kings, as seven players finished in double-figure scoring. As a team, Sacramento shot 53.1 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range, and dished out 36 assists.

Josh Childress scored 18 and Kennedy Meeks added 17 to lead Maccabi. Scott Machado chipped in 15 points and four assists for the Israeli league team.

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' lopsided win.

Welcome to the ballclub

Nemanja Bjelica missed the Kings’ first three preseason games with a sore knee. He finally made his debut Monday night and had an immediate impact.

The 30-year-old combo-forward started and scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and picked up three blocks. He was active on the defensive end and showed a knack for being in the right position for the rebound.

You can’t have enough high basketball IQ players on your squad.

Justin Jackson sighting

Jackson has struggled early in the preseason, but Maccabi Haifa might have been just what the doctor ordered.

The sophomore small forward looked confident with his shot, knocking down 4-for-8 from long range on his way to 18 points. He added three rebounds and two assists.

Jackson has started all four preseason games at small forward for Sacramento, but this was his first double-digit scoring effort.

Starter or sixth man?

Buddy Hield looked great as the Kings’ first option off the bench last season. He was comfortable in the role and carved out a niche.

In the Kings' first three preseason games, though, Hield started in place of the injured Bogdan Bogdanovic. Against Maccabi Haifa, Kings coach Dave Joerger mixed it up, starting Frank Mason III alongside De’Aaron Fox. Whether it’s a comfort issue, getting more shots or a one-off, Hield was brilliant in a reserve role.

The third-year guard shot 9-for-11 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from long range on his way to a game-high 22 points. He added five assists and two steals in 27 minutes of action.

De'Aaron Fox calls out Laura Ingraham's 'shut up and dribble' hypocrisy

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USATSI

De'Aaron Fox calls out Laura Ingraham's 'shut up and dribble' hypocrisy

Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, as he has done with more frequency as of late, turned to social media Thursday to voice his opinion about racial injustice in America.

The Kings’ young star retweeted a video from Complex Sports, which strings together two separate segments from Laura Ingraham's show on Fox News.

The first segment is a clip from 2018, when Ingraham told NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant to “shut up and dribble,” admonishing them for criticizing President Donald Trump.

In the second segment, she defends Saints quarterback Drew Brees for his comments made Wednesday to Yahoo Finance.

Fox clearly didn’t like the double standard.

“Is anybody surprised??? Black basketball players “shut up and dribble”

White football player who agrees with her “he’s allowed to have his view” & “this is beyond football” and it’s so natural to them,” Fox commented.

James also responded to Ingraham.

Brees has been scrutinized over the last two days for his comments regarding kneeling during the national anthem. 

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said during the interview.

Brees’ statements have caused an outpouring of responses, including an emotional video posted by his teammate, Malcolm Jenkins.

[RELATED: Poole: Brees reveals that he's part of problem, not solution]

Like many people, Fox has become more active over the last week on social media regarding racial injustice as protests rage worldwide after George Floyd's tragic death while in Minneapolis police custody. He’s finding his voice in a critical time in history.

Kings in NBA playoff picture, but tough schedule lies ahead in restart

Kings in NBA playoff picture, but tough schedule lies ahead in restart

The format is set. The NBA is returning. How will all of this play out for the Sacramento Kings?

What we now know is that every team invited to Orlando will play an eight-game schedule that according to reports, is based directly off their remaining schedule prior to the league's coronavirus suspension.

If the NBA decides to restart from where the season left off, the Kings' schedule is manageable. Keep in mind that every team invited to the tournament is either a playoff team or one on the fringe.

Sacramento will miss out on contests against the Hawks, Cavs (two times), T-Wolves and Warriors. They also won’t have to face the Clippers, Nuggets and Lakers twice.

Here is a quick look at the games on the docket for the Kings, if the league follows the pre-existing remaining schedule:

New Orleans Pelicans

The Kings were amped up to play the Pelicans on March 11. So much so that they remained on the court while New Orleans sat in their locker room at Golden 1 Center. They’ll get their shot at Zion Williamson and Co. right off the bat, which might determine the fate of both of these teams.

Season series: 0-1

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn is an interesting team. They play extremely hard every night and they have plenty of star talent, but Kevin Durant isn’t coming back from his Achilles injury to play in a shortened season and it’s unlikely that Kyrie Irving (shoulder) returns either. Spencer Dinwiddie has played well in Irving’s absence, but this is a must-win for the Kings if they hope to make it to the play-in game.

Season series: 0-1

[RELATED: NBA return: Five things to watch as Kings get invite to Orlando restart]

Dallas Mavericks

The ghost of draft picks past. Sacramento will draw Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks as their third game of the restart. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis were finding a rhythm when the shutdown hit, although Dallas was just 4-4 over their previous eight games.

Season series: 1-2

Houston Rockets

On Dec. 8 the Kings walked into Dallas and stunned the Mavericks. The next night, they did the same thing to the Houston Rockets. Sacramento could use a repeat of that two-game stretch. The Rockets are the best team the Kings face in their eight-game schedule. Plan on a hundred combined 3-point shots between the two clubs.

Season series: 1-1

Orlando Magic

Does home court advantage matter when there are no fans? We’ll find out as the Magic hosts all 22 teams. This is a tough team to figure out. They have talent and length, but at 30-35, they have the worst record of any team the Kings will face. Jonathan Isaac was ruled out for the rest of the season before the shutdown, but there is a shot he returns with the extra time added on.

Season series: 0-1

Pelicans

Zion. Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram. Jrue Holiday. Tiebreakers at stake. Both of the games against New Orleans are paramount to the Kings’ chances. The Pelicans will get JJ Redick back from his hamstring injury, which adds to the difficulty.

Season series: 0-1

Indiana Pacers

The last time the Kings played Indy, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley just were coming off of injuries and the Pacers took advantage. Indy is tough and Victor Olidipo getting an additional four months to completely recover from injury makes them even more difficult. Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren all give the Kings fits, which makes this one of the more difficult games on the schedule.

Season series: 0-1

San Antonio Spurs

If the Kings and Spurs still are in the hunt at this point in the schedule, there is a chance that this game could pit a team with a 13-year playoff drought against a franchise trying to preserve a streak of 22 straight seasons in the postseason. A lot has to happen for this game to have meaning, but you never know which teams come to Orlando ready to compete and which teams wilt under the pressure.

Season series: 1-1

Sacramento is just 3-9 against this group, but that means very little when you factor in a four-month layoff. This race to the finish likely will be decided by who walks into the gym focused and ready to play from game one.

If the Kings have a shot, they need somehow to overtake the Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers in the standings, while remaining within 3.5 games of the Grizzlies and ahead of both the Spurs and the Suns.

It’s complicated and there still is a chance the NBA adjusts the Kings’ schedule slightly, but the Kings are in the running.