Kings

Marvin Bagley set to return after missing five games with knee injury

Marvin Bagley set to return after missing five games with knee injury

With 16 games remaining in the season, the Sacramento Kings’ rotation got a little deeper Thursday morning. Rookie Marvin Bagley has been cleared to play Thursday evening against the Boston Celtics after missing the previous five games with a left knee sprain.

Bagley, who turned 20 on Thursday, went down in the third quarter of the Kings’ overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks after tangling legs with Malcolm Brogdon on a screen. His initial diagnosis called for him to be reevaluated in 1-2 weeks. He was cleared to resume basketball activities earlier in the week and is right in line with the original projections.

Before the injury, the first-year pro was rolling. He’d posted three straight double-doubles and was averaging 24 points and 11.7 rebounds over the stretch.

The No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft is averaging 13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and a block in 24.8 minutes per game. He’s missed 19 games this season due to injury.

There is no early word if Bagley has any minute restrictions or whether he will play in Sacramento’s back-to-back game on Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

[RELATED: Bogdanovic's struggles magnified with new starting group]

In Bagley's absence, Nemanja Bjelica and Harry Giles have stepped in and played well. The Kings now have a roster full of healthy bodies for the stretch run.

Kings guards De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield relive scoring first NBA baskets

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USATSI

Kings guards De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield relive scoring first NBA baskets

You don't often forget your firsts. 

For some NBA players, the memory of when they made their basket on the big stage sticks with them.

ESPN interviewed a number of marquee NBA players, who discussed how they remember their first bucket.

For Kings guard De'Aaron Fox, he remembers every detail.

"I checked in. It was actually on Trevor [Ariza], who's with us now. I did my little move, went by him, he did a back-tap, missed it and I had a layup. Yeah, I remember that. It was great. It was cool. For me, playing against the Rockets, growing up in Houston and then playing them for my first regular-season game in the NBA, it was definitely fun. It was a great experience."

For his teammate Buddy Hield, his experience was filled with much more anxiety.

"It was at New Orleans," he said. "We played against the Denver Nuggets. It was an isolation play and I got a left-handed layup going down the lane. It was wide open, and it was one of the hardest layups I've ever made. I don't know how I made it, but I made it, because it was wide open. It was one of those things. Your first NBA basket [comes with] all the anxiety, all the pressure, but it was fun, it was cool."

ESPN also interviewed Lakers wing Kyle Kuzma, veteran guard JJ Redick, and others. The verdict across the board appears to be synonymous: Anxious, high-pressure moments that they wouldn't trade anything for.

[RELATED: Hield doesn't want 'insult' contract offers]

Fox recently spoke out about wanting the Kings to keep Hield on the team with a long-term contract after a season where the two developed strong chemistry on the court. To keep that core group together is something Fox wants -- and he's making sure the negotiations have started to get that process going.

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

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USATSI

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

BOX SCORE

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.