Kings

Rewind: Kings go Jeckyll and Hyde, use late run to rout Nets

Rewind: Kings go Jeckyll and Hyde, use late run to rout Nets

The Sacramento Kings kicked off their six-game road trip the right way Sunday night in Brooklyn, throttling the home team 122-105 on their way to win No. 7 on the season. But it wasn’t without drama.

Slow starts continue to plague this team. A flagrant foul in the fourth quarter completely changed the momentum of the contest. And then, boom, the Kings jump all over the home team for a huge run. 

Sacramento trailed by as many as nine in the first quarter. Brooklyn got out and ran, hitting the Kings for nine points on the break in the first 12 minutes. They also stole a page out of the Houston Rockets’ playbook, dropping in 5-of-10 from long range before the Kings could even break a sweat. 

With the starters stuck in mud, Joerger turned to his bench and once again, they responded with a solid outing.

“The bench has been incredible,” DeMarcus Cousins told reporters following the game. “They’re coming in with energy. They’re giving us that extra push we need.”

Omri Casspi hit two 3-pointers and a layup at the rim for eight quick points off the bench before half. Ty Lawson instantly pushed the tempo, scoring six points and handing out four assists before the whistle for intermission. Garrett Temple anchored the defense and Matt Barnes did the dirty work. 

The second unit kept the game within reach as the Kings trailed by just one at the break. 

And then Cousins came to play in the third.

Sacramento’s franchise player went to work against Brook Lopez and the Nets frontline, dropping in 18 of his 37 points in the third quarter on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, including a perfect 2-for-2 from deep. 

“He’s a difficult cover because he can play facing you, he can play with his back to the basket, he can shoot a little bit, he can drive a little bit, he creates a lot of contact and can get to the foul line,” Dave Joerger said in his postgame interview. “You look down and how do you take that for granted? He had 37 and 11 - wow.”

Joerger may not take Cousins’ stats for granted, but he’s starting to get use to them. After Sunday’s performance, the All-Star center is now averaging 28.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this season. He’s punishing teams from all over the court, including the perimeter, where over the last four games he has hit 15-of-25 from 3-point land. 

It appeared that the Kings would run away with the game, but with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter and Sacramento leading by 18, veteran Matt Barnes was called for a hard foul on Sean Kilpatrick. After further review by the officiating crew, Barnes was hit with a Flagrant 2 and ejected. 

“My reputation, I guess, kind of proceeds me, such as tonight,” a clearly frustrated Barnes said. “A foul - definitely a hard foul, but they took one look at the screen and automatically a Flagrant 2.”

Barnes made a play on the ball, but his off arm caught Kilpatrick in the chest, knocking him off balance. Kilpatrick hit the floor hard, but the Flagrant 2 call seemed extreme. 

Brooklyn seized the moment, using the call to propel them on a 14-2 run over the next three minutes to draw the Kings within six at 99-93.

“We just had to buckle down and guard them,” Garrett Temple told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “We understood they were on a high after that flagrant foul 2 by Matt (Barnes). It’s a game of runs.”

Almost as if a switch had been turned off and then suddenly turned back on, the Kings recovered and hit the Nets with a 16-0 run in a little over two minutes to put the game away.

“I don’t really know how to explain it, we just go to another level - it’s unexplainable,” Cousins said. “It happened tonight and we were able to get the game out of reach and seal a victory.”

The Kings have shown an ability to dig major holes for themselves all season. But they have also proven that they can make tremendous runs as well, even if it hasn’t always led to victories. 

Sunday night in Brooklyn, the Kings were able to Jeckyll and Hyde themselves to a win. 

“The biggest thing is staying poised,” Cousins said. “They hit us a few times tonight, we stayed poised, got back on track and pulled out a solid win.”

The Kings don’t have long to celebrate the victory. They face John Wall, Bradley Beal and the 5-10 Washington Wizards Monday evening at the Verizon Center on the second night of a back-to-back.

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic re-injures left knee, needs another procedure

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Associated Press

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic re-injures left knee, needs another procedure

SACRAMENTO -- After a week of speculation, the verdict on Kings shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic’s knee is in.

For the second time this offseason, the Serbian is heading for a procedure on his left knee after an MRI revealed a minor injury. The timetable for his return is unknown at this time.

Bogdanovic re-injured his knee Monday while playing for the Serbian national team in World Cup qualifying. He felt discomfort in the knee during the first quarter against Estonia and left the game early. Once Bogdanovic was back in Sacramento, the Kings medical staff evaluated the 26-year-old wing this week and determined that action was needed.

According to the Kings, Monday’s procedure will be performed by Dr. Riley Williams in New York, and Bogdanovic is expected to make a full recovery. The team will send an update when more is known.

Bogdanovic averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game for Sacramento in his rookie NBA season.

Zach Randolph: Kings training camp profile

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USATSI

Zach Randolph: Kings training camp profile

No one was more consistent on the offensive end for Sacramento than Zach Randolph last season. He fought back father time as long as possible and then finished the season as a spectator when the Kings went young.

Nothing is guaranteed in season two as a King for Randolph. The 37-year-old forward cashed in with the Kings, signing a two-year, $24 million deal in 2017. He’s owed $11.7 million this season, making him difficult to move via trade.  

The Kings plan to go young this year from the opening tip. That doesn’t bode well for Z-Bo, who is nearly twice the age of Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III. 

Strengths

Randolph is a legendary tough guy that brings a grit and a personality to the floor. As he’s advanced as a player, he’s focused more on his perimeter game, extending all the way to the 3-point line where he shot an impressive 34.7 percent last season. 

Still a reliable scorer in the post, the Kings turned to the 17-year NBA veteran on countless occasions last season to help steady the ship. Randolph shot 63 percent at the rim and 50.9 percent inside of 10 feet last season. 

While he struggles to get off the floor, Randolph still managed to post 9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season by positioning and using his strength on the blocks.

On the defensive side of the ball, Randolph’s physical limitations hurt the team in transition and against quicker players. He can still hold his position in the post, but as a defender, he’s not a great option.

Weaknesses

The Kings went out and drafted a Ferrari to play the point guard and then paired him with a mack truck. Randolph is too slow to play in the uptempo offense the team hopes to transition to this season and would be better suited playing for a team that place a more methodical half court game.

As his game has moved away from the basket, Randolph’s field goal percentage and free throw attempts have steadily declined. He posted 2.2 assists per game last season, which is well above his career average, but he’s not a natural passer. 

Father time is undefeated. Randolph is stationary on both ends of the court. He can still score in bunches and get a rebound when you need it, but he can’t defend more athletic fours.

Path to Improvement

There is no way to turn back the hands of time. By adding the 3-point shot, Randolph extended his NBA career for few extra seasons, but even that has its limitations. 

The only path for improvement this season for Randolph is taking on an even larger role as a leader and locker room influence behind the scenes. With a fleet of young bigs, the Kings need Randolph to become more of a coach than a player and help teach the ins and outs of being a professional and the finer nuances of NBA post play. 

Projection

This is a complex situation. If the primary focus was just on wins, Randolph could still play 18-20 minutes per game and put up numbers. The Kings are going to run and gun and it’s hard to imagine Z-Bo keeping up. 

Bagley, Giles and Willie Cauley-Stein are the future and the present. Nemanja Bjelica fits the role of stretch four and Skal Labissiere is going to need some minutes as well. It’s a crowded front line and we haven’t even mentioned veteran Kosta Koufos. 

Z-Bo started 57 games and played 25.6 minutes per night last season for Dave Joerger. It would be shocking to see that again this year. Things can change, but Randolph’s court time should be limited this offseason barring a series of injuries or a complete collapse of scheme.