Kings Under Review: Balanced attack leads Sacramento to much needed win


Kings Under Review: Balanced attack leads Sacramento to much needed win

SACRAMENTO -- Nothing like a little home cooking to get back on the winning track. The Sacramento kings handled their business Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center, pounding the Detroit Pistons for a wire-to-wire 112-102 win.

The final score doesn't tell the entire story. Sacramento led by as many as 23 points and the Kings held a double-digit lead from the 8:25 mark of the second quarter on.

Coach Dave Joerger received contributions across the board as they bounced back from a very disappointing loss on Tuesday to the cellar-dwelling Phoenix Suns.

The win jumped Sacramento back to the .500 mark at 21-21. Here are the positives and the negatives from the victory.


Centers Gone Wild

Willie Cauley-Stein set the tempo early and Harry Giles played big minutes as well, as the Kings' two centers worked hard to keep Andre Drummond, the NBA's leading rebounder, off the glass.

Drummond finished the night with 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven turnovers for the Pistons. He looked frustrated for much of the night and did most of his damage after the game was decided.

Cauley-Stein put in a complete effort for the Kings, finishing the evening with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. He was active and focused on slowing the Pistons All-Star from the opening tip.

Giles came off the bench to add 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals. If Sacramento can get anywhere near this kind of production from this tandem going forward, they're going to win a lot of games.

[RELATED: Dave Joerger thrilled with Harry Giles' impact]


Balanced Attack

Seven players scored in double figures for Sacramento. Buddy Hield led the way with a quiet 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but Sacramento shot an impressive 51.2 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from long range.

The second unit made a huge impact on the final score, combining to score 48 of the team's 112 points. Giles led the bench scoring with 14, but  Joerger got plenty of solid contributions across the board.

Yogi Ferrell chipped in 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and Marvin Bagley added 10 points and seven rebounds in the win.


Trouble with the Turnovers

For the second straight game, the Kings finished the night with an unacceptable amount of mistakes. It wasn't a complete breakdown, like the 26-turnover game against the Suns on Tuesday, but 20 turnovers Thursday night is more than enough to cause concern.

Giles led the way with five gaffs, including four in the fourth quarter when the game out of reach and turned sloppy. Eight other Kings turned it over at least once, with five of those players giving it away two or more times.

If this is a trend with this team, that's an issue. They've done a nice job playing a crazy pace and not turning the ball over all season.


Crashing the Boards

Sacramento isn't a great rebounding team, but against the Pistons, you wouldn't have guessed that. They boxed out and rebounded as a team Thursday evening, winning the battle of the boards 47-37.

Detroit isn't a great rebounding team, but they came in ranked ninth in the league on the offensive end. The Kings held them below their average of 11.8 offensive boards per game, limiting Drummond and Co. to just nine offensive rebounds and six second-chance points.

Pistons star Blake Griffin didn't make the trip and might have impacted the overall rebounding totals, but then again maybe he wouldn't have. The All-Star forward grabbed a total of two rebounds over his two previous games in a combined 75 minutes of action. 

Dirk Nowitzki likely makes last trip to Sacramento, talks Kings future


Dirk Nowitzki likely makes last trip to Sacramento, talks Kings future

SACRAMENTO -- During pregame of the Kings and Mavericks game on Thursday evening, a tribute video for future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki played on the monstrous scoreboard hanging high above the court at Golden 1 Center.

While the 40-year-old power forward hasn’t officially announced his retirement yet, it is likely that his 21st NBA season is his last.

When Nowitzki entered the court midway through the first quarter, Kings fans gave the 14-time All-Star a standing ovation. It was a nice moment and Nowitzki was appreciative.

Following the Kings’ 116-100 victory, Nowitzki spoke to the media and was extremely complimentary about the squad they are building in Sacramento.

“[De’Aaron] Fox is fantastic, he’s so fast, he’s probably one of the fastest players I’ve seen in this league and he got better from year one to year two,” Nowitzki told reporters following the game. “[Marvin] Bagley’s looked great off the bench. There’s not a lot of guys that get you 20 and 10 off the bench. He’s an instant problem off the bench.”

“All these young guys, they have great upside and they’ll be fun to watch for a long, long time,” Nowitzki added.

While the Mavericks fell out of the playoff race early, Nowitzki thought the Kings would snap their 12-year drought, especially after the addition of Harrison Barnes from the Mavs at the deadline.

“I actually thought the race for the eight would be there's, so it was just a tough stretch there,” Nowitzki said. “They’re a great set up for the future with Fox and Hield and now Giles and Bagley looked fantastic. They have a couple of veterans with Harrison now. They’re set up great for the future.”

Prior to tip-off, he caught up with Kings assistant general manager, Peja Stojakovic. The two battled during international play, at the NBA level and even won a championship together in Dallas during the 2010-11 season.

[RELATED: Luka makes first Golden 1 appearance]

Nowitzki ranks sixth all-time on the NBA’s scoring list and he is widely considered the greatest European player to ever play in the league. In likely his last trip to Sacramento as a player, the German-born star hit 1-of-2 from long range to finish with three points in 12 minutes.

Marvin Bagley continues to showcase star potential in win vs. Mavs

Marvin Bagley continues to showcase star potential in win vs. Mavs

SACRAMENTO -- The Marvin Bagley III era of Sacramento Kings basketball is upon us. He can hit you with a spin move, rise over you for a half hook and on Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center, he starting dropping in 3-pointers.

At 20-years-old, there is no telling where the ceiling is for the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Since returning from injury, five games ago, he’s been on fire, despite dealing with a minutes restriction.

“It was just a matter of time before I was able to show out and just go out and play,” a confident Bagley said following the Kings’ 116-100 victory. “Play without thinking and just play basketball. Whenever I’m playing like that I just play free and I’m not worried about mistakes.”

For the third straight game, the former Duke star posted 20 points or more for Sacramento, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He added 12 rebounds four the 14th double-double of his rookie campaign and blocked four shots as well.

Suiting up for the first time against fellow rookie, Luka Doncic, Bagley looked fresh and ready for the challenge. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Doncic looked every bit the part of a rookie who has had to carry the scoring load for his team all season. The Slovenian-born guard finished the night with just 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.

Following the game, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle raved about the Kings’ rookie.

“Bagley is terrific,” Carlisle told reporters following the game. “He’s much improved. Shooting the three consistently, so he’s a big problem.”

While Bagley knocked down the 3-ball at the college level, it was in limited attempts. Since joining the Kings, he’s taken a cautious approach when it comes to hoisting from the perimeter, shooting just 69 3-pointers through his first 51 games.

Tuesday against the Nets, Bagley shot and made two 3-pointers. On Thursday versus the Mavs, he looked confident in his five attempts, hitting a career-best three makes from behind the arc.

“It’s just a progression,” coach Dave Joerger said. “I’ve never told him not to, I’ve asked him that I prefer if the ball comes from inside the line where you’re getting your momentum going forward.”

For Bagley to take the next step in his progression and move into the starting lineup, the Kings need him to at least be a threat from the perimeter. If opposing defenses have to stay with him behind the 3-point line, it keeps the lanes open for De’Aaron Fox to attack the rim.

“He’s a special talent, man,” Buddy Hield said. “Sometime you don’t even run a play for him. He just gets our misses and puts it back in. That’s what comes with a special talent. He’s just going to keep growing and getting better. He’s still not to his potential.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Kings' win over Mavs]

In 10 games since the All-Star break, Bagley is averaging 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in 27 minutes per game. He’s quickly living up to the hype and showing improvement at almost every step.

With just 11 games remaining in the season, Bagley would like to end on a high note. The Kings need him to continue to develop his perimeter skills during his first real offseason and build some up his strength for the grueling 82 game NBA schedule.