Rewind: Blowout exhibition win reveals new options for Kings

Rewind: Blowout exhibition win reveals new options for Kings

SACRAMENTO -- There isn’t much you can take away from a 135-96 win over a team like Maccabi Haifa. The Kings shot 67.1 percent from the floor. They knocked down 52.5 percent from long range and they handed out 30 assists. They led wire-to-wire and it wasn’t even close.

This isn’t an NBA caliber team so you have to look deeper than just the numbers. With so little on the line, Dave Joerger was able to get creative with his squad and try new things. Sample size is small, but the Kings’ new coach might have found something very interesting.

Speed kills and the Sacramento Kings have some flat out burners. During the third quarter, Joerger and his staff turned to a combination of players that they haven’t even matched together in practice. 

“It was fun, we got the ball off the rim, got rebounds or stops and we’re just running,” Lawson said of the small ball lineup. “Everybody’s getting open shots.”

Joerger began the third quarter with a lineup of Lawson, Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Anthony Tolliver and Kosta Koufos and the impact was immediate. Joerger has gone small plenty of times, but not like this. In fact, Lawson and Collison hadn’t even played together in practice. 

“I thought it was fun today,” Collison said. “We got a chance to get up and down the floor and not just be a half court team. We can go out in transition. Ty’s a willing passer, I’m a willing passer. We can use our speed.”

Both Lawson and Collison played the first 5:17 of the third, pushing the Kings lead from 27 at the half to 39 midway through the quarter. Lawson scored four points and handed out five assists during the stretch, while Collison hit for five points on 2-for-2 shooting. 

“They’re two electric guards, I think they’re going to be great for us this year,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “All the doubt Ty came in with, it’s early, but I think he’s proven a lot of people wrong. I’m happy about that. We get those two guys playing together, that could be a scary combination.”

Both Lawson and Collison have experience playing in dual point guard sets. Last season Collison played alongside Rajon Rondo for plenty of minutes and he started plenty of games next to Chris Paul with the Clippers before joining the Kings. Lawson saw time with Nate Robinson, Jameer Nelson and Andre Miller with the Nuggets under George Karl.

With the tempo heating up, it was McLemore that seemed to awaken. While plenty of his points came after the point guard tandem had hit the bench, the pace of the game didn’t slow. McLemore scored 11 of his game-high 18 in the quarter as Sacramento pulled away. He looked more comfortable in an up-and-down game with pace than he has all preseason.

Joerger is busy installing a high-post offense, which will take time to perfect. But in the meantime, he can go small to change the tempo of the game and maybe steal a few easy buckets. 

“We get in passing lanes, we’re small (and) quick, I feel like the perimeter guards will have a tough time dealing with that,” Lawson said.

The Sacramento Kings are a major work in progress. But while they are developing an identity as a regimented offensive and defensive unit, they may have stumbled onto multiple different combinations of player groupings that open the floor and change the flow of the game.

Giants fans in the house

As the game neared its conclusion, the arena appeared to have cleared out of many of the listed 16,000 in attendance. But late in the fourth quarter, a huge contingency of fans hanging out in the new Sierra Nevada Draught House exploded when Conor Gillaspie roped a triple over the head of the Cubs centerfielder to give the San Francisco Giants a 4-3 lead.  

The Draught House was packed with wall to wall people who had both an incredible bird's eye view of the Kings game and plenty of screens to watch as the Giants eventually pulled out the win and extend their playoff run for at least another game.

[RECAP: Giants walk off on Cubs, stave off elimination]

How De'Aaron Fox energized Kings after his rough first half vs. Bulls

How De'Aaron Fox energized Kings after his rough first half vs. Bulls

When he's fully engaged in the action, Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox is a difference-maker. The 20-year-old looked out of sorts in the first half of Monday's 108-89 win over the Bulls, scoring just two points on a pair of free-throw makes.

And then he went off.

The former Kentucky star let his defense jump-start his offense in the third quarter, and the Bulls had no idea how to slow him down.

“For the most part, it started with the two steals, the steal I got, the dunk, got another steal and then Shump (Iman Shumpert) hit the three,” Fox said in his postgame interview. “That got all my juices flowing, my energy up, and then I started making shots.”

With Fox firing on all cylinders, his teammates got out of the way and let him shine. That’s been a hallmark of the Kings’ winning formula this season. They ride the hot hand and take turns having big moments.

Fox hit 8 of 11 shots in the second half to score 23 of his 25 points. He added six assists, four rebounds, four steals and one block in 34 minutes of action.

“De’Aaron Fox, what he did from the first half to the second half was awesome, and we need that,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said.

After trailing by 14 in the first half and as much as 12 in the third quarter, Fox and his Kings teammates outscored Chicago 38-19 in the period, and they didn’t let up there. In the fourth, Sacramento’s young core took turns pummeling the Bulls on their way to the victory.

After scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half, Buddy Hield found success late as well.

Hield hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get himself going late in the third quarter, and then added another 3-ball in the fourth to finish the night with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

“We’re just doing our job and trying to figure out how to help our team win,” Hield said of the big second half for the Kings' starting backcourt. “Just push the tempo, make shots and make the right plays for our teammates.”

The combination of Fox and Hield outscored the Bulls 34-33 in the second half, as the Kings rolled up the home team by 30 after the break to come away with the win. The 33 points allowed in the second half is a new season-low for the Kings.

“The energy in the second half came from within,” Joerger said. “You’re always looking for emerging leaders, and guys grabbed onto each other, and they brought their own energy in the second half.”

[RELATED: Unnamed Kings players take big shot at Bulls]

Rookie Marvin Bagley chipped in 16 points and two rebounds playing against his former Duke teammate, Wendell Carter. Willie Cauley-Stein added an 11-point, 16-rebound double-double, and Bogdan Bogdanovic went for 16 points and six rebounds.

With the victory, the Kings improved to 14-12 on the season, including an 8-7 record on the road. They’ll travel home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.

The schedule gets much tougher over the next 13 games for Sacramento. They’ll play 12 teams with a .500-or-better record, with the New Orleans Pelicans (14-15) as the lone exception.

Unnamed Kings player zings Bulls over their complaints about new coach

Unnamed Kings player zings Bulls over their complaints about new coach

It appears the Kings have been doing their pregame reading.

Sacramento beat the Bulls 108-89 on Monday night, one day after reports spread of a near-mutiny in the Chicago locker room. The Bulls, who recently underwent a coaching change, apparently haven't taken too kindly to interim head coach Jim Boylen's practice philosophies.

Well, the Bulls are unlikely to be any more satisfied the next time they meet for practice following Monday's loss to the Kings, in which Sacramento came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half.

Apparently, the Kings know it, too:

Sacramento has experienced its fair share of organizational dysfunction over the last several years, so this unnamed player might know very well the morale level in the Chicago locker room right now.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that next practice ...