Kings

NBA Gameday: Kings send down picks before back-to-back vs Blazers

NBA Gameday: Kings send down picks before back-to-back vs Blazers

After letting one slip right through their fingers on Thursday night, the Sacramento Kings have no time to feel sorry for themselves. Before taking a much needed four-day break, they face the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night at the Moda Center on the second night of a back-to-back.

Sacramento squandered a 19-point first half lead against a young upstart Lakers team and then crumbled down the stretch. Inefficient offense plagued them throughout the night and their inability to get a big stop when they needed it proved to be their undoing. 

Following Thursday’s  game, the Kings allocated their three rookie first-round picks -- Georgios Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson -- to the Reno Bighorns. The trio are expected to spend plenty of time in the D-League this season. 

Portland is coming off a 111-80 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers. They are led by the dynamic backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum who combine to score 51.2 points per game, but coach Terry Stotts has plenty of other scoring options to turn to if his guards go cold.

OPENING LINE 

Trail Blazers by 6.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings vs. themselves -- Portland is a quality team on the second night of a back-to-back, but so were the Toronto Raptors. Sacramento is still working to find an identity early in the season, but they need to show some resiliency if they hope to be anything more than a 30-35 win lottery team.   

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 4-6, fourth place in Pacific
Trail Blazers: 5-4, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: No injuries to report.
Trail Blazers: F Al-Farouq Aminu (left calf strain) out, Festus Ezeli (left knee) out. 

SERIES HISTORY 

The Blazers have owned the Kings of late, winning seven straight, including a four-game sweep last season. During the Sacramento-era, Portland holds an 86-45 advantage and they lead the Kings 127-76 all-time.

QUOTE

“We’ve just got to play for 48 minutes. We can’t take our foot off the gas. We have to have more of a killer instinct.”  -- Matt Barnes following the Kings’ loss to the Lakers

Marvin Bagley makes case to join starting lineup despite Kings' loss

Marvin Bagley makes case to join starting lineup despite Kings' loss

At some point, Marvin Bagley III is going to force Dave Joerger’s hand with his play. Sacramento’s head coach has been reluctant to start his prized rookie, instead choosing to go with 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica at the power forward position.

There are reasons you start a player like Bjelica over an unproven rookie, but those reasons are starting to fade. The veteran forward is a high IQ player that stretches the floor with his jumper. He’s seldom out of position and he can stuff the stat sheet.

But over the last few weeks, Bjelica has struggled mightily and Bagley is starting to build momentum to move into the starting lineup with his energetic play.

With Bjelica taking an evening off to rest and recover on Tuesday evening in Toronto, Bagley picked up his first NBA start. The 19-year-old didn’t disappoint.

“I think I played pretty good,” the former Duke star told reporters following the game. “I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but that’s the part of being out there and learning and growing as a player.”

Bagley dropped in a career-high 22 points on 10-of-20 shooting in the Kings’ 120-105 loss to the Raptors. It was first time a Kings player has scored 20 or more in his first NBA start since Omri Casspi achieved the feat in Dec. 16, 2009.

He also added a game-high 11 rebounds to go with a pair of blocks in 38 minutes of action. His double-double was the first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound double-double in a first career start for the Kings since Nov. 29, 1972, when Mike Ratliff dropped in 20 points and 19 rebounds against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Bagley continues to say the right things when asked about whether he would prefer to start or come off the bench. But he made it pretty clear with his play that he’s open to bigger role.

“I love playing and being out there,” Bagley said. “I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win. We came up short tonight, but every game I try and come out and play like it’s my last game.”

Taken with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, Bagley is a walking double-double. He’s missed 14 games this season with two separate injuries, but his ability to act as a primary scorer in the post adds a new dimension to the Kings’ offense.

Where Bjelica helps spread the floor, Bagley has an advanced offensive game down low. He also has incredible potential as a rebounder and he continues to lead the team in blocks per game.

Joerger’s cautious approach to the development of the talented young big was the right move. Bjelica’s play helped the team get off to a shocking start and he is a valuable piece to what the Kings are trying to do.

But the time is coming when Bagley will step into the starting lineup on a regular basis. It might already be here.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 120-105 loss to Raptors

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 120-105 loss to Raptors

BOX SCORE

Playing without three starters, the Sacramento Kings gave an equally shorthanded Toronto Raptors team a run for their money Tuesday evening at Scotiabank Arena.

With De’Aaron Fox, Nemanja Bjelica and Iman Shumpert all resting and recharging, Dave Joerger’s squad stayed within striking distance throughout three quarters. But with the game on the line, the more experienced team got some separation in the fourth to pull out the win on their home floor. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings drop one in Toronto by a final of 120-105 to fall back to .500 on the season at 24-24.

Rookie First

19-year-old Marvin Bagley III picked up his first career NBA start in Bjelica place. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft answered the call and put up big numbers against a quality Raptors frontline.

The rookie patrolled the paint and ran the floor to finish the game with a career-high 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting. Bagley added 11 rebounds and two blocks in 37 minutes of play.

Bjelica was lights out to start the season, but he’s faded over the last month. It’s only a matter of time before Dave Joerger and his staff make the move to Bagley as a full-time starter. Games like this might expedite that decision.

The Other Rookie

Harry Giles continues to build momentum with his play. He makes plenty of mistakes, but he also shows flashes of brilliance on both ends of the court.

In 22 minutes of action, Giles finished with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting. He also chipped in four rebounds, two assists and blocked two shots. 

He’s improving every time he steps on the floor.

Buddy and Bogi

Without Fox in the Kings’ lineup, the Raptors focused on stopping Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield. 

Bogdanovic started at the small forward spot and finished the night with 16 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals. 

The Raptors locked down Hield for much of the game, but he still managed to score 15 points on 5-of-14 from the field. He added five assists, but he wasn’t much of a factor after dropping 10 points in the first quarter.