Kings

Kings Under Review: Marvin Bagley's breakout not enough in loss to Raptors

Kings Under Review: Marvin Bagley's breakout not enough in loss to Raptors

The final score doesn't quite tell the whole story. The Sacramento Kings were highly competitive for most of the game Tuesday evening against the Toronto Raptors. Playing shorthanded, they hung in tough against a very good Eastern Conference squad. 

A few mistakes here and there proved costly and for the second straight game, the Kings went home without a win. With the 120-105 loss to the Raptors, Sacramento is now 1-3 on their season-long six-game road trip. They'll have a few days to regroup and recover before taking on a struggling Grizzlies team Friday in Memphis.

The loss pushed the Kings back to the .500 mark at 24-24. Here are the positives and the negatives from the loss.

POSITIVE

Bagley Breakout

Marvin Bagley has been waiting patiently for his moment to start. The 19-year-old has been solid for most of the season, showing flashes of the athleticism and advanced offensive game that made him the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.

With Nemanja Bjelica sitting out his first game of the season to rest, Bagley finally got his chance and he didn't disappoint. Sacramento's prized rookie went to work against the Raptors front line, finishing with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-20 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks.

The double-double was the sixth of the season for the former Duke star in 34 games. Coach Dave Joerger has used Bjelica to space the floor and open running lanes for De'Aaron Fox, but Bagley is the future at the power forward position for the Kings. His performance against Toronto shows that the future might be now.

POSITIVE

Bogi at the Three

Bogdan Bogdanovic is the Kings' most versatile player. He can score from anywhere on the floor. He is their best pick-and-roll player on the squad and he can play three or four positions on the court. He's also a player that doesn't mind starting or coming off the bench.

Anytime Iman Shumpert misses a game, Bogdanovic steps into the starting lineup. He changes the look and feel of the opening group, giving Joerger the ability to run more sets in a half court offense.

Against the Raptors, Bogdanovic carried the bulk of the distributing duties, finishing the night with 16 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals.

POSITIVE/NEGATIVE

Resting Players

When Joerger made the decision to sit three of his starters, he did so without the knowledge that Kawhi Leonard would also rest for the Raptors. The instant reaction from fans was that the Kings were throwing away the chance to beat a shorthanded Raptors team, ignoring the fact that Toronto came into the game 11-2 on the season without their star forward.

Could the Kings have beaten the Raptors if they went in at full strength? Maybe. Then again, Maybe not.

Fox, Bjelica and Shumpert have all struggled mightily in the month of January. The hope is that a three-day respite will help reboot and recharge the trio. It might not work, but running the group into the ground on the second night of a back-to-back is a recipe for disaster. 

NEGATIVE

Ben McLemore's Mental Lapses

When you're given an opportunity at the NBA level, no matter how long you've been in the league, it's a chance to show your coaching staff you are ready. That is not what McLemore did Tuesday in Toronto.

While McLemore hit a few shots, scoring 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting, including a pair of makes from long range, he also made a couple of inexcusable mistakes.

With the Kings trailing by eight at the end of the third quarter, McLemore fouled Delon Wright on a 60-foot buzzer beating attempt. The replay clearly showed McLemore running down the court with his hand on Wright's arm. When the Raptors guard went to shoot the ball with .2 of a second remaining, it was an easy call.

Wright hit two out of three to push Toronto's lead back to double-digits heading to the fourth. In the fourth, he gave a tough foul to Norman Powell as flew in for a fastbreak lay up.

McLemore hasn't played much this season, but he can't make rookie mistakes like this in his sixth season in the NBA.

'Basketball gods' give one back to Kings in dramatic win over Celtics

'Basketball gods' give one back to Kings in dramatic win over 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.

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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

BOX SCORE

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.

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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.