NBA Gameday: Skal, Kings close home slate against Suns

NBA Gameday: Skal, Kings close home slate against Suns

SACRAMENTO -- With the 2016-17 campaign nearing a conclusion, the Sacramento Kings close down the inaugural season at Golden 1 Center Tuesday evening against the Phoenix Suns.

The Kings have dropped two straight, but they made a game of it Sunday against the Houston Rockets. Seven players scored in double figures for Sacramento, including 25 from rookie Skal Labissiere and an impressive 20-point, 11-assist performance from veteran point guard Ty Lawson.

Phoenix has rattled off two straight wins after dropping the previous 13 games. Like the Kings, they have turned to their young core down the stretch, featuring eight players 24-years-old or younger. Rookies Tyler Ulis and Marquese Chriss start alongside 20-year-old budding star Devin Booker and young bigs Alex Lin and T.J. Warren.


Kings by 4.5


Kings: 31-49, third place Pacific

Suns: 24-57, fifth place Pacific


Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss: The Rematch -- Labissiere came off the Kings bench and dropped a career-high 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting and added 11 rebounds in less than 30 minutes of action the last time these two faced off. Chriss shot 6-of-14 from the field for 17 points and added seven rebounds and five blocks in 32 minutes, but he was clearly overshadowed. These two will have plenty of battles against one another over the next decade in the NBA.


Kings: Arron Afflalo, Tyreke Evans and Kosta Koufos are out (rest), and Darren Collison (migraine headache) is also out.

Suns:  C Tyson Chandler and PG Eric Bledsoe shut down for the remainder of the season. PG Brandon Knight (back spasms) out, Leandro Barbosa (hamstring) out.


Sacramento leads the season series between these two teams 2-1 after beating the Suns on their home floor 107-101 last month. Phoenix leads the all-time series 131-89 and they hold an 84-50 advantage during the Sacramento-era.


“There’s a level of experience that you have to have. They’re playing at a doctoral thesis level and here is a young guy in his first year and you’re trying to spit some words out of what coverage we should be in and it just takes experience. It’s not that they’re trying to mess up - they are trying to do the best they can.” -Dave Joerger on his young club following the loss to Houston

Kings vs. Mavericks live stream: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

NBC Sports Bay Area

Kings vs. Mavericks live stream: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

The Kings leave a devastating loss in the rearview mirror following a 123-121 loss to the Nets on Wednesday. 

But Thursday is a new day and the Mavericks are a new team.

The Kings' home crowd will get the first glimpse of Luka Doncic -- the powerful rookie phenom who could have worn a Kings uniform. He will face his "successor" in Marvin Bagley III who is shooting 52.2 percent from the field this season -- this is on pace to be the fourth highest by a Kings rookie in franchise history.

Not bad.

The Kings are 8-4 against the Mavs since the 2015-16 season which is the team's best record against any Western Conference opponent over that time period.

Here's how you can watch Kings-Mavericks, as well as NBC Sports California's pregame and postgame coverage, live on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app. 

When: 7 p.m. PT on Friday, March. 21 (pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Live Stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app


Luka Doncic makes first Sacramento appearance after Kings passed on him


Luka Doncic makes first Sacramento appearance after Kings passed on him

SACRAMENTO -- The top five of the 2018 NBA Draft class is turning out to be special. It will take time to figure out where they rank historically, but the early returns are stunning.

No. 1 overall pick, Deandre Ayton, rolls through Sacramento on Saturday. He’ll likely see a heavy dose of No. 2 overall pick, Marvin Bagley III.

Before that battle takes place, Sacramento will get their first live look at rookie phenom and No. 3 overall selection, Luka Doncic, Thursday evening. The sure-fire NBA Rookie of the Year has put up huge numbers for the Mavericks this season, averaging 21.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 7.5 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game.

The 20-year-old out of Slovenia has played professionally for years overseas and came into the season NBA ready. His rookie numbers are impressive, but in many regards, expected.

Sacramento’s front office liked Doncic during the draft process. In fact, Vlade Divac has known the family for years and considered him the second-best prospect in the draft.

Concerns over fit with the Kings current roster, as well as what position Doncic might play at the NBA level played a role in the Kings’ decision.  

But the single biggest deciding factor for Sacramento in the evaluation process was the talent level of Bagley. The Kings believe he has the highest ceiling in the draft class and they may still be correct.

Did the Kings make a mistake drafting Bagley over Doncic? The early results might suggest that they did, but it will take years to fully assess.

Bagley is showing signs of star power. He also plays with an incredible motor and is known for his off the court work ethic.

Sacramento loves Bagley’s long-term fit with point guard De’Aaron Fox and shooting guard Buddy Hield. They believe this group can be franchise cornerstones that will eventually lead the franchise back to the playoffs after a 12-year drought.

Injuries have cost Bagley 19 games this season, but when healthy, he’s a force. The 6-foot-11 power forward is averaging 14.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and nearly a block in 24.3 minutes per game.

In eight games since the All-Star break, the former Duke star has bumped those numbers up to 19.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 26.9 minutes a night. He’s coming off back-to-back 20-point games, including a 28-point, 7-rebound performance against the Nets on Tuesday.

Expect a heavy dose of Bagley down the stretch for Sacramento and not because they’ve fallen out of playoff contention. The rookie has earned his minutes with his strong play and he adds a new ingredient to the Kings’ offense when he’s on the floor.

[RELATED: Divac explains why Bagley over Doncic wasn't easy]

In addition to Ayton, Bagley, and Doncic, fourth overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. put up solid numbers for Memphis before going down with an injury. No. 5 pick, Trae Young, is posting 18.5 points and 7.8 assists this season for Atlanta.

With the season almost in the books, this has already proven to be one of the strongest top end of the draft in recent history. Doncic will take home the hardware, but it’s way too early to start passing out judgment on which player will have the best NBA career out of this group.