Kings

Rewind: Kings' loss to the Blazers a 'good learning experience'

Rewind: Kings' loss to the Blazers a 'good learning experience'

When you are the Sacramento Kings, you don’t have the luxury of overlooking any team, especially a wounded group like the Portland Trail Blazers. Sacramento waltzed into the Moda Center looking for their fifth straight win Wednesday night and they came away with a 102-89 loss to a short-handed Blazers team.

“It was a game that we wanted and it’s a good learning experience for our guys,” coach Dave Joerger told the media following the game.

Sacramento has had plenty of ups and downs early in the season, but their climb back towards .500 was impressive. They took a step back against Portland, but the demeanor of this team continues to stand out.

“This is the NBA, we weren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the season,” DeMarcus Cousins said with a smile during post game. “That’s not even realistic.”

Sacramento struggled to find a rhythm, hitting just 31-of-79 (39.2 percent) from the field and 9-for-28 from 3-point range. They had plenty of wide open shots and couldn’t knock them down.

“The offense was stagnant at times and then when we were behind, we tried to make a 14 point shot,” Dave Joerger said. “At one point in the quarter, we got nine stops out of ten possessions and we took three one pass jumpers.”

Portland had no problem finding the net, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and a stellar 12-of-25 from three. Led by the sharpshooting C.J. McCollum, who finished the night with a team-high 20 points, Portland led by as many as 20 and never really let the Kings get within striking distance late.

“We weren’t physical enough with them, we played too soft, especially early on,” Garrett Temple told reporters in the locker room. “And they were able to knock down some shots.”

Six Blazers scored in double-figures as they turned to a team game to replace injured All-Star Damian Lillard’s 27 points per game.

“The shots won’t fall all the time, but you have to be able to compete and play hard on defense every possession,” Temple said. “If they were making tough shots, then it is what it is. But they were getting a lot of easy shots.”

While Portland was busy running their offense, Sacramento rushed their shots and the movement on the court all but stopped.

With Rudy Gay missing his seventh game in eight opportunities, the Kings needed someone to take up the scoring slack next to Cousins. Temple stepped forward to score 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting while providing solid defense against the Blazers wings.

Cousins went off for his customary 28-points, eight-rebounds, six-assist night, but Portland made life difficult on the Kings’ star center. Cousins shot just 8-for-19 from the field, although he hit an impressive 3-of-6 from long range.

“They really focused in on me,” Cousins told media members from his locker stall. “You could tell their game plan was to make everybody else have big games instead of myself. It was successful tonight -- it worked.”

In addition to Temple and Cousins, Matt Barnes added 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but Joerger needed more from his role players.

The point guard combination of Ty Lawson and Darren Collison scored just 14 total points on 4-for-15 shooting. Ben McLemore shot 2-of-9 from the field and Anthony Tolliver hit 1-for-6. It was a rough shooting night for Sacramento, but those game happen during an 82 game schedule.

The Kings return home where they will practice Thursday and possibly Friday leading up to Saturday’s mid-day game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Golden 1 Center.

They travel to Denver to face the Nuggets on Tuesday before settling in for seven straight at home beginning Wednesday against the Miami Heat.

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De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox isn't here for Fran Fraschilla's college basketball takes.

After Zion Williamson thanked the program in a video announcing his intention to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, Fraschilla sent out a tweet noting how much he believed playing for Duke helped the phenom build his brand and profile.

Well, Fox didn't agree with the notion that Duke had a lot to do with boosting Zion's worth, and he threw some shade at Fraschilla in a NSFW tweet.

In fairness, both sides have a point to make.

A year ago, Williamson was a YouTube dunking sensation, but questions about his overall skill level remained. But during his lone season in the spotlight at Duke, Williamson showed he was more than just a highlight-reel dunker, and has all the skills necessary to be the No. 1 overall pick.

However, Williamson should've had the ability to go straight to the NBA out of high school if he wanted. He still would have been a top-10 pick, and a lucrative shoe contract would have followed shortly after his name was called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about MIP candidacy]

We'll give the win to Swipa.

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

The Sacramento Kings failed in their ultimate goal of making the postseason, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a very good year. The Kings finished the season at a surprising 39-43 and they stayed in playoff contention much longer than anyone expected.

Perhaps more important than the final outcome of the season, many of the young Kings players took major strides forward in their development. The core turning potential into production, making the future bright in Sacramento.

With the season in the books, here is NBC Sports California’s take on the end of year accolades for the team.

MVP -- Buddy Hield

Coming into training camp, Hield wasn’t expected to start. A late summer knee injury cost Bogdan Bogdanovic time, opening the door for a breakout season from the former Oklahoma star.

Known for his work ethic, Hield became more than just a scorer in his third NBA season. He improved as a defender, posted a career-high in assists and rebounds, and showed an ability to hit big shots.

Hield also led the team in scoring, finishing the year averaging 20.7 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists in 31.9 minutes per game. He flourished from behind the arc, posting the seventh most made 3-pointers in a single season in NBA history with 276 makes.

The 26-year-old shooting guard took a leap from potential sixth man to near All-Star and his energy on the court was infectious.

De’Aaron Fox is in the running for this award as well, but Hield gets the nod for his consistency throughout the entire season.

Most Improved Player -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox and Hield should both draw votes for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. As far as the Kings’ team goes, it’s close, but with Hield taking home the MVP, Fox gets the MIP.

Statistical jumps from year one to year two is expected in the NBA, but Fox’s leap stands out. He bumped his points per game from 11.6 to 17.3. He increased his assists from 4.4 to 7.3, with just a .4 increase in turnovers per game. He also shored up one of his biggest weaknesses, improving his 3-point percentage from 30.7 to 37.1 percent.

In addition to all of his statistical achievements, Fox became a leader in year two and appears ready to expand his game even farther in year three.

Defensive Player of the Year -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox wasn’t just a force leading the Kings’ uptempo offense. He showed incredible improvement as a defender in year two, especially in late-game situations.

The 21-year-old point guard has tremendous upside as a two-way player. He finished the season in the top 10 in the league in steals at 1.6 per game and as he gets stronger and more mature, there is plenty of room for growth.

Willie Cauley-Stein gets an honorable mention here. He led the team in defensive real plus/minus and defensive win shares. He put up a solid season, posting career-highs in both rebounds and blocks.

Biggest Surprise -- Nemanja Bjelica

A late addition to the roster, Bjelica stepped into the starting lineup and made a tremendous impact on the Kings, especially early in the season.

The 30-year-old out of Serbia almost went back overseas before signing a three-year deal with the Kings. He posted career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played, and shot over 40 percent from behind the arc.

Bjelica struggled for a stretch in the middle of the season, but he finished strong. His ability to help space the floor was a major bonus for the team and he was a better rebounder and defensive player than expected.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about his most improved candidacy]

Rookie of the Year -- Marvin Bagley

This isn’t exactly a fair category. Marvin Bagley was the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and his only competition for the award was a redshirt freshman who had played a total of 300 minutes over a three-year period.

Don’t get me wrong, Harry Giles was very impressive, especially in the month of March after he got his sea legs. Giles looks like a rotational player at a minimum, with the possibility to jump into the starting lineup down the road. But he’ll need time to develop after missing crucial development years.

Bagley jumped off the page from the moment he stepped foot on the floor. He needs to get stronger and build his overall skill base, but the 20-year-old power forward averaged 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and a block in 25.3 minutes per game.

A pair of knee injuries cost Bagley 20 games and plenty of momentum. A summer to work out the kinks should do wonders for the former Duke star.