Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 103-101 loss to Knicks

Kings takeaways: What we learned in tough 103-101 loss to Knicks

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SACRAMENTO -- Playing to the level of competition has been an issue all season long for the Sacramento Kings. They have beat some of the best teams in the league, but they have also messed around with a few cellar-dwellers and got burned.

The Kings led by double-digits most of the night, but they allowed New York to climb back in the game in the fourth. With the game on the line, it was a 5-20 Knicks team that made the plays and handed Sacramento a devastating loss on their home floor by a final of 103-101.

Julius Randle bullied his way to 26 points and nine rebounds. Elfrid Payton added 16 points off the bench to help New York pick up their sixth win of the season. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings blow a golden opportunity against a struggling Eastern Conference opponent and fall to 11-14 on the season.

Inexcusable

After beating the Mavericks, Rockets and Thunder over the last three games, the Kings allowed a bad Knicks team to sneak up and bite them. 

This is a common theme this season. Sacramento has the ability to hang with the best the league has to offer, but they’ve overlooked team like the Hornets, Bulls and now the Knicks. 

A win would have put the Kings within a game of .500. Now they are once again searching for answers. 

Dunking Buddy

Buddy Hield is known for his ability to hoist the 3-ball, which he did plenty of Friday against the Knicks. He also showed off his leaping ability, hammering down a handful of dunks over the unsuspecting group from New York.

Hield torched the Knicks for 34 points on 14-for-23 from the field and 6-of-13 from long range. He added a career-best 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and fourth of his career. 

The Kings’ leading scorer has now strung together 10 straight games with 20 points or more. 

Bench troubles

The second unit struggled mightily and may have cost the Kings a victory. The Knicks rallied against the reserves to end the second and third quarters and they continued the trend to start the fourth.
All four players that came off the bench ran negatives in the +/- category, including a negative 12 for Yogi Ferrell and a negative 11 for Bogdan Bogdanovic. 

The group is adjusting to the return of Marvin Bagley, but they have to find a way to keep the momentum in games. 

Kings struggle with communication, physicality in road loss to Jazz

Kings struggle with communication, physicality in road loss to Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY -- On their way to a 15-27 record, the Sacramento Kings have lost in many different ways this season. More often than not, it’s in the closing moments of games that they come up short.

That wasn’t the case Saturday night in Utah. From the opening tip, the Jazz jumped all over the Kings and they refused to let up.

“They’re obviously one of the best teams in the West,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Even though they lost that winning streak against New Orleans, they showed they’re a really good team. After one bad loss at the end, they stepped it up against us and they showed their quality as a team. It’s frustrating, but we gotta look forward from this point. We can’t look back.”

At 29-13, the Jazz are one of the most complete teams in the NBA. They lost their 10 game winning streak Thursday in overtime against the Pelicans, but they are starting to move up the standing in the Western Conference.

With their 123-101 drubbing of the Kings, the Jazz are now just a half-game behind the Nuggets and the Clippers, who are tied for second in the Western Conference standings.

It wasn’t one player that did damage against the Kings. It was all of them.

Rudy Gobert dominated the post, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. With the Kings collapsing to paint trying to stop Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic launched from the outside, hitting 6-of-9 from long range on his way to 30 points.

Donovan Mitchell worked the two-man game with Gobert to finish with 22 points and Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to drop in 20.

“We just have to be more physical on the defensive end,” De’Aaron Fox said. “You know, execute the game plan and live with the results. But I don’t think we did that. You know, Rudy [Gobert] got easy shots, easy layups, easy dunks. You know Bojan [Bogdanovic] got some easy ones. I just think, you know, throughout the game it was too easy for them offensively.”

The ball moved around effortlessly for Utah. They ran their playsets and while there wasn’t a lack of effort from the Kings, they seemed a step slow and completely out of sync.

“We’ve got to talk more, we’ve got to communicate more,” Marvin Bagley said. “Sometimes it happens so fast that we don’t communicate. If we keep allowing that to happen, we’re just going to get beat all game like we did tonight.”

It’s been a difficult season for Sacramento when it comes to injuries to key players. They got Bogdanovic back after a six-game absence with an ankle issue, but they are still missing starting center Richaun Holmes who may be back as early as later this week.

While missed games are part of the issue, the team is trying not to use it as an excuse.

“You can’t control the injuries, but we can control how we approach every day in practice, how we come together, how we try to lock in and win,” Bagley added. “I think if we continue to focus on what we control, then we’ll be alright and we’ll to where we want to be.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier over the next few games. The Kings fly to Miami on Sunday where they’ll face a Miami team that is not on 29-12 on the season, but they are extremely physical.

[RELATED: Fox's development is silver lining in tough season]

Head coach Luke Walton is trying to make adjustments on the fly as he gets players back, but it’s a tall order. You add in Saturday’s trade that once again shook up the roster and the lack of continuity and overall playtime together is tough to overcome. 

With 40 games remaining on the schedule, Walton has no other option but to continue to feed the core minutes together and hope that they find the chemistry that is currently missing on the court. With any luck, the current group stays healthy so the team can assess what they have and what they need heading into the offseason.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 123-101 blowout road loss to Jazz

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 123-101 blowout road loss to Jazz

BOX SCORE

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Jazz knocked the Sacramento Kings onto their heels in the first quarter and never let up Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena. 

Maybe it was an afternoon trade that sent Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan to Portland that distracted the Kings, or maybe they were just unprepared to match the home team’s intensity. Whatever the reason, the game was over early as the Jazz dropped the Kings by a final of 123-101

Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gobert, Jordan Clarkson and Donovan Mitchell all broke the 20-point barrier and Joe Ingles picked the Kings apart with a game-high 12 assists.   

Here are three takeaways as the Kings fell a season-high 12 games under .500 at 15-27 on the season.  

Missed assignments

The Jazz are a very good offensive team, but the Kings made them look like the Houston Rockets.

It started with the two-man game featuring Mitchell and Gobert. When the Kings tried to slow the pair in the pick-and-roll, the Jazz’s shooters started launching at will.

In one of their worst defensive performances of the season, the Kings allowed the Jazz to shoot 50.6 percent from the field on their way to a 22-point blowout. 

Fouling Fox 

De’Aaron Fox loves to go up against Mitchell, a fellow 2017 draftee. The speedy guard continued his recent hot streak, finishing with 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go with eight assists and four rebounds. 

Unfortunately for Sacramento, their starting point guard struggled with foul trouble beginning early in the game, which limited his aggressiveness on the defensive end. 

Fox managed to play 31 minutes, but he fouled out with 3:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Battle of the Bogdanovics

Bogdan Bogdanovic made his return to the court after missing the previous six games and he looked rusty. The Kings’ six-man scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting and chipped in four rebounds and four assists.

[RELATED: What Bazemore, Tolliver trade means for Kings]

The Jazz’s Bojan Bogdanovic (no relation) hammered the Kings for 30 points on 10-of-15 from the field and 6-of-9 from behind the arc. Sacramento had no answer for the 30-year-old sharpshooter.

Bogdan has struggled with injuries all season long. Bojan is having a career-year after signing in Utah as a free agent. On Saturday night, the Jazz’s version was the better player.